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Withers takes its pick of McKenna Long partners ahead of Dentons tie-up as firm launches three US offices

Withers has launched three new offices in the US with the hire of a nine partner team – the majority of which come from McKenna Long & Aldridge as the US firm carries on leaking partners ahead of a combination with Dentons.

While one of the partners will be based in the private client specialist’s existing San Francisco office, the rest will be spread among new outposts for the firm including San Diego, Los Angeles and Rancho Santa Fe.

Of the nine partners being brought in by Withers to build its Californian presence, eight are from McKenna Long with Fred Vandeveer, Jeremy Crickard, Michelle Graham and Steve Chidester joining in Rancho Santa Fe; Carol Kao and Jeremy Moffit launching the San Diego office; Diana Hastings in San Francisco; and Elizabeth Bawden based in Los Angeles. Partner Michael Brophy is joining from Russ August & Kabat.

The McKenna Long team also comprises 16 other lawyers and nine support staff while counsel Christine Steiner joins from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.

Withers managing director Margaret Robertson said: ‘Our new California team provides a huge boost to our US capabilities and, in addition to our recent East Coast hires, grows our American partnership size by nearly a third. Our San Francisco office opened at the start of 2014, and an integrated technology, estate planning and real estate practice is winning work across the north of the state. The new team allows us to significantly extend our footprint across California, as well as provides real weight and strength for our clients in, and with interests in, the state.’

McKenna Long and Dentons confirmed that they would combine in April but the firms took the unusal step of stating in the announcement that ‘by mutual decision, not all lawyers and professionals will join the combined firm.’

Since then, there have been several partner exits including in May when Covington & Burling took a 20 lawyer team from McKenna Long consisting of five partners and 15 other fee earners. The group, which included the former chair of McKenna’s government contracts practice Frederic Levy, joined the firm’s Washington base.