Landlord forces Skjerven partners to pay their rent

Skjerven Morrill, the San Francisco firm that collapsed shortly after Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, is facing a massive bill for unpaid rent after its landlord launched a suit against its former tenant

The firm, which held space in the Boston Properties-owned Three Embarcadero Center, owes $142,000 (£90,000) and potentially huge costs after bowing out of a lease that expires in 2006.

Skjerven was hit with an unlawful detainer claim after its lawyers vacated the office but failed to empty its assets from the space.

Business and real estate litigation partner at Bartko Zankel Tarrant & Miller Glenn Zwang said Skjerven has now “handed over the keys” and will no longer be charged a daily fee for occupying the building. But he added that the former partners “would be responsible for not fulfilling the terms of the lease”.

Skjerven's troubles mirror Brobeck's, which was also recently hit with an unlawful detainer claim from landlord Equity Office Properties, which wants the firm to exit its base at One Market, although there are hopes that Morgan Lewis & Bockius will take over the lease.

Bruce McDiarmid, a former Skjerven partner and one of a number who have joined Pillsbury Winthrop, said since the firm had now vacated, the suit was “moot”.