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Ten years after hiring Coudert partners, Dechert pays $2.4m to settle dispute

A long-running case between Dechert and the administrator of the now dissolved Coudert Brothers over the former’s hiring of Paris and Brussels-based partners has finally come to an end with the US dispute shop agreeing to pay $2.4m in a settlement.

The dispute dates back to 2005 after Dechert recruited a six-partner team from Coudert’s Paris office and five others from its Brussel’s outpost, with the partners exiting without billing for work already performed. This came a month after Coudert, which had 28 offices around the world, announced that it was to claim bankruptcy in one of the largest dissolutions of a law firm as it had failed to secure a firm-wide merger.

The firm’s assets were then sold off to numerous other firms including Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in the UK, Russia and China. The administrators claimed that Dechert underpaid Coudert for the French and Belgian offerings after hiring its partners and taking their respective billings – a claim that Dechert disputed.

The filings for the settlement, cover how, in July, the bankruptcy court reached a settlement agreement which resolved all claims between Dechert and the administrator, Development Specialists Inc. McCarter & English partner and executive committee member David Adler represented the administrator, while partners Joel Miller and Nick Cutaia at Miller & Wrubel acted for Dechert.

Dechert declined to comment.

In July, last year Jones Day prevailed in an ‘unfinished business’ case with the Coudert administrator with the New York Court of Appeals deciding in its favour.