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Leading US employment partner Lawrence Ashe has quit Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker and taken a team of three partners and one associate with him following a row over conflicts
Ashe is launching a new firm in Atlanta, Ashe & Rafuse, with another former Paul Hastings partner Nancy Rafuse, which he hopes will grow to at least 10 lawyers within weeks.
"I'm not satisfied with how large firms are serving the employment law needs of clients, whether they're an individual or a large corporation," said Ashe. "Quite frankly, there's too much overhead, too high a rate structure, too little flexibility and not enough client sensitivity."
The firm claimed that Ashe's insistence on advising employees as well as employers led to too many conflicts of interest.
Philip Marzetti, chair of Paul Hastings' Atlanta office, said that clients did not want the firm representing plaintiffs at the same time that it was defending the clients in similar cases.
Ashe said that, when he joined the firm in 1980, it was agreed that he could represent a limited amount of plaintiffs, but that when Nancy Abell succeeded Paul Grossman as chair of the employment team that agreement was cancelled.
Partners David Gavertz and Dan Turner have joined Ashe & Rafuse from Paul Hastings. Rafuse will become managing partner. Ashe claimed that every active client he had would be moving with him. These include Home Depot and Procter & Gamble.
Ashe also represented Coca-Cola in its 1999 class action race discrimination lawsuit, which settled for $192.5m (£120.7m).