Sonnenschein cashes in as Altheimer lawyers jump ship

The migration of lawyers from disintegrating Chicago firm Altheimer & Gray has begun in earnest, with four US practices snapping up a range of refugees.
Chicago’s Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal has bagged four partners, including Jeremy Margolis, head of Altheimer’s litigation department and a member of the firm’s executive committee.
Litigator Robert Andalman and two real estate partners Barry Nekritz and Marjorie Zessar have also made the move to Sonnenschein.
The Chicago firm was seen as the frontrunner to merge with Altheimer, which had spent two years trying to find a practice to link up with prior to last month’s decision to dissolve. Sonnenschein had been prepared to merge with Altheimer, but only after it had cleared up its potential liabilities. As The Lawyer revealed, these included $30m (£18.8m) worth of debt (The Lawyer, 7 July).
Philip Gordon, another member of Altheimer’s executive committee, will move to Perkins Coie’s recently-opened Chicago office with 11 corporate and real estate lawyers.
There have been reports that Gordon and Margolis had previously talked to Sonnenschein. However, this may have been in connection with the potential merger rather than attempting to secure new positions.
It is not clear where the remaining members of the executive committee will go. It is expected that chairman Gery Chico will concentrate his efforts on running for the 2004 Senate primary, while managing partner Jeffrey Smith and private equity rainmaker Sy Peck are expected to join the same firm.
Other firms to gain Altheimer lawyers include Neal Gerber & Eisenberg, which has grabbed a group of intellectual property and real estate lawyers, bringing its running tally of ex-Altheimer professionals to 19, and Jenner & Block, which has taken on real estate specialist John Buttita.