Morgan Lewis rescues a third of Brobeck partners

Brobeck Phleger & Harrison's one time white knight Morgan Lewis & Bockius has rescued around a third of the collapsed firm's partners as Citibank set Valentine's Day as the wind-up deadline – two weeks earlier than anticipated.

Morgan Lewis, which recently pulled out of merger talks with Brobeck at the eleventh hour, triggering its demise, is set to take on around 50 partners out of a total 150, and potentially office space in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Irvine.

The group includes Richard Odom, Brobeck's chairman, who took on the post when Tower Snow, who subsequently left for Clifford Chance, stepped down.

The majority of the haul will be housed in San Francisco, with around five in Palo Alto and a couple of partners in Irvine.

The move is a clear indication that Odom was in favour of the merger with Morgan Lewis, although it was finally blown apart when Steven Zager, head of the firm's litigation practice, left for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Zager has since been joined at Akin Gump by 17 former Brobeck lawyers.

The partners secured their escape as Citibank, Brobeck's largest creditor, unexpectedly brought the final wind-up date forward by two weeks to 14 February.

Although swathes of lawyers have already found new homes, the sudden immediacy of the closure means that some staff and lawyers will find themselves unemployed.

Those with new partnerships include Craig Andrews, a corporate and business partner, who is expected to take a group of 10 partners with him to Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker.

Speculation also suggests that O'Melveny & Myers is close to securing a clutch of partners, including a very senior venture capital specialist. Morrison & Foerster is one of a few other firms to have also taken on partners.

It is presently unclear whether partners who left prior to Brobeck's collapse will be liable for any of its bank debt or property costs.

The question also remains as to whether former partners, the majority of which went to either Dewey Ballantine or Clifford Chance, will have their capital contributions, believed to run into millions of dollars, returned.