Brobeck Phleger & Harrison has lost four partners in quick succession. John Missing, Lawrence Gornick, William Levin and Gary Fergus have all left Brobeck during the past few weeks.
Product liability litigators Levin and Fergus have set up their own San Francisco practice, acting for claimants.
Gornick, who had been at the firm for 13 years, has joined the San Francisco office of Los Angeles-based Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker.
Missing, who set up Brobeck's Washington DC office three years ago, is leaving the firm to become a partner in Debevoise & Plimpton's Washington office. He joins Debevoise's 150-member litigation department, where his practice will concentrate on contentious securities matters and class actions.
“I've been here a long time and had to decide if I wanted to do this for the rest of my professional career or move in another direction”
Ralph Ferrara, managing partner of Debevoise's Washington office, said: “The addition of John Missing broadens the base and complements the experience of our securities litigation team.”
The defecting partners are understood not to have been motivated by economic concerns.
Levin stated: “I've been here a long time and had to decide if I wanted to do this for the rest of my professional career or move in another direction.”
Levin, Fergus, Missing and Gornick have left Brobeck at a tough time for the firm. Financial figures for 2001 revealed that revenue was down to $447m (£311.2m) from last year's $476m (£331.2m). Profits per equity partner dived 44 per cent to $660,000 (£459,000).