Even More Trouble for Howrey

Another group of lawyers leaves the sinking firm en masse.

By: Marisa M. Kashino

And the great Howrey hemmorhage continues.(Read our prior coverage here, here, and here.)


Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is getting a 15-lawyer group from the quickly dissolving law firm, including four partners from Howrey’s Washington office. The DC partners joining Pillsbury are David Dekker, Jeffrey Gans, Melissa Lesmes, and Michael McNamara.

The lawyers were all part of Howrey’s construction-litigation practice. Ironically, Howrey acquired the large construction group from the law firm Thelen in 2008, when that firm dissolved. Their move to Pillsbury means the construction lawyers have likely narrowly avoided going through the same experience a second time. It’s clear that Howrey will soon cease to exist as a stand-alone entity, though the bulk of its remaining partners have been given offers to join the law firm Winston & Strawn. It’s not clear whether the Howrey name will somehow be incorporated into Winston & Strawn’s branding.

During a phone interview with Washingtonian.com this afternoon, new Pillsbury partner Gans said he and the rest of the group began looking for another firm in early January. He said they were given offers to join Winston, but the firm "just wasn't a great fit for us." Some reports about Howrey's troubles have cited the decision to acquire the large construction practice from Thelen in 2008-when the construction industry was at a standstill- as evidence of Howrey's poor management. But Gans said his practice "experienced healthy growth" at Howrey, and is currently "very active." Gans said the group is bringing its general contractor and owner clients to Pillsbury, and is excited about developing new relationships with Pillsbury's existing clients.

As for experiencing the implosion of yet another major law firm, Gans said it hasn't been easy. "There is an unfortunate sense of deja vu, just in having to move your practice to another firm," he said. "It's difficult mentally and physically to have the energy to do that." Hopefully the third time's the charm.

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