More senior defections from Milberg Weiss

Patricia Hynes, one of America's most powerful female litigator, is stepping down to become of counsel – the UK equivalent of a consultant – while Robert Sugarman is setting up his own practice in Uniondale.

News of the departures come less than a week after The Lawyer Online revealed that Alan Schulman, managing partner of Milberg Weiss' San Diego office, has left to set up a Californian office for arch-rivals Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman.

By leaving their posts in 1999, the three partners have reportedly avoided having to cough up a multi-million dollar contribution to Milberg Weiss' $50 million settlement with Lexecon Inc, which was not covered by insurance.

Lexecon sued Milberg Weiss for malicious litigation and won a $45 million verdict last April. The firm settled the case for $50 million rather than face a punitive damages hearing.

All three partners have been at the firm for more than 15 years and each were members of the management committee