Dewey management team partners quit for Winston & Strawn and O’Melveny

Dewey & LeBoeuf is set to lose members of its top management team for the first time since the new group was introduced, with litigation head Jeffrey Kessler quitting for Winston & Strawn as part of a 22-partner defection and Richard Shutran joining O’Melveny & Myers.

O’Melveny has snatched Shutran and New York and renewable and clean energy head Junaid Chida, two of Dewey’s most influential figures, with tax partners Arthur Hazlitt and Mark Caterini and project finance partner Dev Sen joining the duo. All five partners are New York-based.

Separately, Kessler is jumping to Winston & Strawn, while fellow litigation partners Seth Farber and Harvey Kurzweil are joining him as part of a 23-strong raid that includes partners Paul Victor, James Smith, John Aerni, Aldo Badini, Suzanne Jaffe Bloom, Eva Wolaniuk Cole, David Feher, David Greenspan, Adam Kaiser, Kelly Librera, George Mastoris, Jonathan Miller, Richard Reinthaler, and Kevin Wallace.

Winston & Strawn is also taking Dewey London competition and disputes partner Peter Crowther, Los Angeles litigation partners John Schreiber and Matthew Walsh and Washington DC energy partner Elias Farrah, as well as Chicago energy litigation partners Timothy Carey and Elizabeth Bradshaw.

Kessler and Shutran were both members of Dewey’s five-person ‘office of the chairman’ introduced in March to replace the previous system where Steve Davis was the sole chairman (28 March 2012)

The exits are the latest examples of key, high-billing partners leaving the US offices, with a Silicon Valley corporate team led by Richard Climan and Keith Flaum quitting for Weil Gotshal & Manges and New York corporate partner Berge Setrakian joining DLA Piper (8 May 2012).

Last week The Lawyer revealed that New York corporate rainmaker and former firm vice-chair Mort Pierce was set to join White & Case (3 May 2012).

However, none of the departing partners so far have been members of the office of the chairman. Davis was ousted from the quintet at the end of last month after the Manhattan district attorney’s office launched a criminal investigation into his conduct (30 April 2012). Kurzweil and Farber were instructed as counsel to the firm following this.

The two remaining members of the office of the chairman are restructuring head Martin Bienenstock and Washington DC managing partner Charles Landgraf.

Shutran said in a statement: “We saw a great opportunity at O’Melveny, not only to help deepen the firm’s transactions capabilities in New York and elsewhere, but also to join an excellent team of lawyers whose values are consistent with our own.”

Kessler said: “Winston offers a platform that provides our group a strong foundation for serving our clients at the highest levels.”