Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is losing 12 lawyers to the New York office of Chicago-based firm Winston & Strawn - leaving a gaping hole in the firm's real estate structured finance practice group.
The defections, which include three partners and two of counsel, leave just one partner and two assistants working in the New York group.
The team is led by partners Peter Korda, Bill Seligman and Corey Tessler. The senior lawyers joining as of counsel are Patricia GoPaul and Regina Baldwin.
The group's clients include First Union National Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank and Prudential.
Seligman says: "We think Winston & Strawn will be a much better place to support a high end commercial real estate practice, particularly one such as ours that is so involved with capital markets.
"The firm lacked the critical mass in New York, and it was difficult to gain acceptance in the New York real estate community without a larger group."
He adds: "I think all of our clients have already indicated that they will be retaining us."
Winston & Strawn is also recruiting the head of corporate from the New York office of Los Angeles firm Loeb & Loeb, Christopher Aidun.
Aidun is joining the firm's new economy practice, representing emerging internet and technology companies. His clients include The Reader's Digest Association and Capital.com.
The new arrivals bring the number of lawyers in the firm's New York office to 150. It plans to expand to between 250 and 300 in the near future.
New York managing partner Bob Bostrom says that the new additions signal the firm's commitment to growth.
He says:"The Orrick Herrington team will be working closely with our corporate, securitisation and real estate practice groups. The team fits well into our strategy of growth in New York, where we feel we can bring expertise and depth to our existing client base and expand our client base in the city."
The 700-lawyer firm has offices in Paris and Geneva and four in the US, and is understood to be in the process of attempting to crack the London market.