It’s been a year since the messiest law-firm breakup in recent history. Last November, Michael Hausfeld was, as he said at the time, “abruptly and unceremoniously” told—via a note left on his office chair—to leave his firm. The antitrust lawyer had been the top rainmaker at the DC plaintiffs firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll (now Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll) when his partners voted him out.
He didn’t go quietly. He started his own shop, Hausfeld LLP, taking about 20 other Cohen, Milstein lawyers with him, and hired Venable partner Stefan Tucker to look into a possible lawsuit.
In a town with some big egos, Hausfeld is known for having one of the biggest. In the words of one source who knows him, “People who have a reputation for being difficult to work with have that reputation for obvious reasons.”
Two of the other Cohen, Milstein lawyers who followed Hausfeld to his firm have since gone elsewhere. Associate Andrea Hertzfeld returned to Cohen, Milstein; partner Charles Tompkins now practices at the Boston firm Shapiro Haber & Urmy. Tompkins says he left “to pursue some different opportunities” and that he and Hausfeld “remain colleagues.” Hertzfeld declined to comment.
Are the drama, departures, and firm-jumping over? Hausfeld—who ended up not suing his old firm—says they are: “We’re looking ahead.”