Debevoise & Weil lose old hands to new boutique

Two septuagenarian US attorneys have left Weil Gotshal & Manges and Debevoise & Plimpton to set up their own white-collar litigation boutique – for the second time.

John Martin and Otto Obermaier, whose combined age is 141, first set up shop together in 1972, when Martin Obermaier & Morvillo became one of America’s first specialised white-collar crime firms.

The new firm, also entitled Martin & Obermaier, the same name as the first incarnation of their earlier firm, will specialise in white-collar work, along with arbitration.

“It’s two old guys trying to relive their youth,” said Obermaier.

The move comes just weeks after Martin released an investigative report ordered by Merck’s management board into the drug maker’s handling of claims against pain medication Vioxx.

Since setting up their first firm together in the 1970s, both men had moved on to become US attorneys for the Southern District of New York, and Martin also became a federal judge.

When Martin retired from the bench in 2003, he joined Debevoise, where in his of counsel position he billed $1000 (£530) an hour. Meanwhile, Obermaier left public service to join Weil Gotshal as a litigation partner.

The firm Martin and Obermaier left behind, now know as Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason Anello & Bohrer, will be their landlord at their new offices on Fifth Avenue as they are leasing space off their former partner, Robert Morvillo.