Aug 2 (Reuters) - Six Chadbourne & Parke partners, all of
whom worked with the firm's longtime client British American
Tobacco, said Thursday they planned to join London-based Herbert
Smith in September.
The group includes Thomas Riley, who had been the head of
Chadbourne's litigation department, and Gregory Loss, who led
its products liability group. Five of the partners are based in
New York, where they plan to open an office for Herbert Smith.
Chadbourne in a statement said the firm regretted the
partners' decision to leave "but understand their business
justifications for doing so."
Herbert Smith is one of a handful of firms that British
American Tobacco turns to most often for legal work. The
Chadbourne group has worked with the company for years and had
represented the tobacco giant in a variety of matters, including
a $450 million lawsuit by hospitals in Missouri against the
tobacco industry that ended in a defense verdict in March 2011.
They also represented British American in the Department of
Justice's $280 billion racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco
industry in 1999. After 11 years of litigation, the case against
British American was dismissed last year.
"We remain committed to a strong products liability
litigation practice in the U.S. and internationally," said
Andrew Giaccia, Chadbourne's managing partner. "We wish the
tobacco team well."
Riley declined comment.
A spokesman for British American Tobacco in a statement said
it intended to continue to hire Chadbourne in the future.
Herbert Smith's hiring of the Chadbourne lawyers comes as
the firm pushes to expand internationally. Earlier this year it
said it would open in New York, and in June it announced it
would merge with Australia's Freehills. If completed, the
Freehills merger will create a 2,800-lawyer firm called Herbert
Smith Freehills with 20 offices globally.
Anthony Dempster, a partner at Herbert Smith spearheading
the firm's New York plans, acknowledged the close relationship
the incoming Chadbourne team had with British American Tobacco,
a mutual client of Herbert Smith's.
But he cautioned against overemphasizing the tobacco work,
saying Herbert Smith expected the partners would work on a
number of assignments for its network of international clients.
"They are actually commercial litigators with a huge amount
of expertise," Dempster said.
Tobacco litigation in the United States has been on the wane
since the 1990s, when tobacco companies reached a $200 billion
settlement agreement with states attorneys general. The
settlement covered Brown & Williamson, a then operating
subsidiary of British American.
While personal injury litigation against tobacco companies
continues, particularly in Florida, many of the ongoing court
fights focus more on regulations over cigarette packaging and
Dempster said Herbert Smith anticipated more hiring for the
New York office, which he expected would have nine partners by
the end of the year. The firm is seeking to recruit partners
experienced in arbitration and investigations, he said.
Chris Parker, an international arbitration partner already
at Herbert Smith, is relocating from London to join the New York
Herbert Smith said it grossed £480 million ($746.6 million)
in its fiscal year ending April 30, up 3.2 percent. Profits per
partner, meanwhile, slipped 5.8 percent to £840,000 ($1.31
Chadbourne by contrast grossed $306 million in 2011, down
0.2 percent, according to The American Lawyer. Profits per
partner declined 0.8 percent to $1.32 million.
(Reporting By Nate Raymond)
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