Legal Business

‘The firm is in excellent shape’: Boies Schiller elects new chair

Partners at Boies Schiller Flexner have elected New York-based litigator and white-collar defence and internal investigations partner Matthew Schwartz as chair. Schwartz will step into the role from 1 January 2025 to serve for a three-year term.

He will take over from current chair and co-founder David Boies, who has held the position since the firm was established in 1997 and was elected to serve a final one-year term for 2024. Boies will remain a member of the executive board and will continue his active trial practice.

Schwartz will continue to serve as one of the firm’s three managing partners during his time as chair-elect, alongside Sigrid McCawley and Stuart Singer. Singer is a longtime executive committee member and former administrative partner for the Fort Lauderdale office, where McCawley is also based. Singer steps up as managing partner as New York-based Alan Vickery steps down to concentrate on his practice after three years in the role, though he will remain on the executive committee.

Schwartz made partner at Boies Schiller in 2015 and became a managing partner in 2021 after joining the executive committee the previous year. His prior experience includes a nearly decade-long stint as assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York. As a senior member of SDNY’s securities and commodities fraud task force, his prominent work included investigations into JPMorgan and Commerzbank and leading the federal case against Bernie Madoff that ultimately saw the disgraced financier convicted and sentenced in June 2009 for his role orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He now leads Boies Schiller’s crisis management and global investigations and white-collar defence practices.

Schwartz said in a statement: ‘The firm is coming off one of the strongest years in our history. We have an impressive stable of clients… a strong pipeline of valuable and high-profile cases making their way through the justice system, and a deep bench of trial lawyers. Boies Schiller’s future is very bright.’

Schwartz’s positive reference to the firm’s performance artfully avoids reference to a longer time horizon. It dropped out of the Legal Business Global 100 in 2018 after entering the table in 2017 when a 3% increase in turnover took it to $410m. With reported gross revenues of $220m for its most recent financial year, the firm is now a little over half the size it was five years ago. Its 2022 revenues were down 4% on 2021, though its PEP increased by 13% year-on-year to around $2.5m.

This decline in revenue resulted from a significant dip in headcount: the firm went from 320 lawyers in 2018 to just 150 in 2022. Many in the market have attributed partner losses to Boies’ representation of Harvey Weinstein and Elizabeth Holmes. High-profile exits included Nicholas Gravante, who left the firm for Cadwalader in January 2021 less than a year after becoming a managing partner at Boies Schiller, and Natasha Harrison, who took five other partners from the firm’s London office with her when she departed in January 2022 to set up Pallas Partners.

Harrison has always asserted that her move was motivated by a desire to be ‘the architect of my own firm’ rather than by any push factors concerning Boies Schiller. The firm has since began rebuilding in London, with a total of five partners now working solely from its City office. Its most recent UK hire saw it bring over Constantine Cannon London office founder and art law specialist Pierre Valentin in June. Valentin joined with five other lawyers, and splits his time between London and Milan.

Schwartz stressed that Boies Schiller’s profitability and per lawyer metrics remain healthy. ‘I would be surprised if we got anywhere close to the size we were before’, he told Legal Business. ‘We didn’t just get smaller to get smaller. We got leaner. We focused on core competencies.’

Schwartz went on: ‘We will continue to focus on modest opportunistic growth. We have to be very careful that we maintain our excellence, our cohesion, and our culture.’ He pointed to antitrust and bankruptcy insolvency disputes as key areas of growth. The firm also aims to extend its geographical reach while doubling down on its core strengths on the East Coast. ‘Adding to our capabilities on the West Coast and overseas, especially in London, will continue to be a focus.’

The issue of succession at Boies Schiller has been a fraught one. Both Gravante and Harrison were widely touted as potential heirs to David Boies prior to their departures. Now 82, Boies has a remarkable reputation in the market, with a long list of high-profile cases under his belt, from his work for the Justice Department in the major antitrust case United States v. Microsoft (2001), to acting for former US vice president Al Gore in Bush v. Gore (2000), the US Supreme Court litigation over the 2000 election that ultimately saw George W. Bush elected president after the court’s conservative majority overturned the Florida Supreme Court’s decision ordering a recount of 61,000 ballots missed by Florida vote tabulation machines.

Schwartz, then, is left with a lot to live up to. ‘I don’t think of myself as stepping into David’s shoes’, he said. ‘I certainly don’t think of myself as replacing him. I’m not trying to take over from him or to do what he’s done for the last 26 years. I’m going to do this job differently and I’m going to do it, I think necessarily, in a way that collaborates closely with the partnership – certainly the other managing partners and the executive committee, but also the partnership at large.’

In his statement, Boies stressed both his faith in Schwartz and the firm’s commitment to continuity: ‘This change isn’t an abrupt transition so much as a continuation of a process that has played out in recent years. I’ve worked very closely with Matthew in his capacity as managing partner and executive committee member over the last three years, and I know he will be an excellent choice as chairman. From the strength of our client relationships to our deep bench of attorneys to our pipeline of high-value cases, the firm is in excellent shape as we look to complete this transition by the end of next year.’

Legal Business

Boies Don’t Cry

‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid? When I’m making big decisions, there’s always fear attached. I try to put the fear aside and say: “What would I do if not afraid?” Last year when Natasha Harrison still ran Boies Schiller Flexner’s (BSF) London office, she revealed her mantra in conversation with Legal Business. When news broke in January that she and the majority of her disputes team were leaving BSF to start a new litigation-only firm, Pallas Partners, such thinking must have been at the front of her mind.

Legal Business

Harrison leads Boies Schiller team exodus to set up rival firm

Natasha Harrison has left Boies Schiller to set up a rival firm in the City, with five other partners also departing the firm.

The move will be a massive blow for the US litigation giant’s City ambitions, given Harrison’s reputation as one of the most influential and outspoken law firm leaders as well as a respected litigator.

The new firm will be called Pallas Partners, a source claiming knowledge of the matter told Legal Business.

Partners Tracey Dovaston, Fiona Huntriss, Will Hooker, Neil Pigott and Matt Getz are also leaving Boies Schiller.

Harrison has had various leadership roles since joining BSF from Bingham McCutchen in 2013, including London managing partner, and was also touted as chair elect to succeed David Boies when he retires.

Natasha Harrison was unavailable for comment.

A spokesperson for BSF said in a written statement: ‘We wish our former colleagues well as they embark on the next phase of their careers. As for BSF, we are committed to our London office, which means identifying and bringing in new talent to supplement our existing strengths, but also cultivating a London presence that is better integrated with the firm’s core work and clients.

‘Practices such as international arbitration – which was a strong factor in opening the Milan office – as well as antitrust and competition, and cross-border investigations and white collar defense, will be a significant focus as we grow our UK office in the coming months and years. We will also continue to serve our clients in their litigation before the English courts, and in other jurisdictions that look to English law.’

For more on Natasha Harrison, read her recent Life During Law interview

Legal Business

Life During Law: Natasha Harrison

My maths teacher was married to a criminal barrister, so I did a mini-pupillage at his set. Loved it but decided I didn’t want to do criminal law. Over the years that followed I did more mini-pupillages, including at a commercial set, a common law set, as well as work experiences at law firms, the BBC and Foreign Office. All of which confirmed I wanted to do commercial law.

I really wanted to go down the barrister route, but I was the first person in my family to go into law and I didn’t know any barristers growing up. I had been to Durham rather than Oxbridge and I was a girl.

Legal Business

Disputes perspectives: Tracey Dovaston

I’d like to say becoming a lawyer was a very well-thought-out decision in my teenage years, but it wasn’t. I recall taking a career aptitude test at school, and it was one of the few professions I’d actually heard of. Law sounded interesting, and I’ve always enjoyed the legal wrangling in various TV shows. Showing my age, it included the less esoteric ones at the time, like LA Law in the late 80s and early 90s.

I picked Herbert Smith. I applied to a number of places, but I had heard partner Lawrence Collins, now Lord Collins of Mapesbury, speak at a careers event at university. Herbert Smith was well-known as a preeminent litigation firm and so I thought that was where I wanted to go. I wrote to him directly. I didn’t think it would make any difference, but it did. When I started, I was a trainee in his litigation department. I had an opportunity to work with him first hand, and he supported me in the early stages of my career.

Legal Business

‘Let’s tear up the rule book’ – Boies chief sets out her stall for a radical rethink of the elite law firm model

If law firms are to survive and thrive, they must dramatically modernise the way they work and serve their clients; they must become more adaptable, flexible and collaborative if they are to prosper. While clients have accelerated and evolved in their respective sectors, the legal industry itself has failed – at best to keep pace – at worst to change in any meaningful way. Either way, law firms remain significantly and meaningfully behind the curve.

Covid-19 may be the disruptor the legal industry has long needed, sparking change and generating the long-awaited revolution. If so, how will these changes manifest? And how do we create the blueprint for the modern law firm?

How we value our services

For many decades, lawyers have valued their services with reference to the number of minutes spent thinking about and working on a matter; time is the value proposition, rather than the outcome. While this may have been effective and acceptable 25 years ago, we have failed to adapt and deliver a true value-based proposition.

The fee model is outdated and increasingly out of step with client needs. The legal profession remains one of the few areas of business that is wedded to charging by the hour, yet the societal shift that is taking place suggests the value of time is increasingly more important than the time spent. It’s about what and how you deliver rather than the quantum of time. This will require law firms to re-think how they deliver value and price their services. Incremental changes are no longer adequate; valuing our services by the hourly rate needs to be abandoned. Rather, we should price by way of the true value we deliver to clients. Just as investment banks price their services on the achieved deal, so should law firms; litigators need to price on outcomes rather than the hours plodding through the process. In this way we will finally be truly aligned with our clients. Let us tear up the rule book.

At Boies Schiller Flexner we spend time listening to our clients’ needs around fees – whether it be certainty, skin in the game or flexibility. We then craft a bespoke menu of fee options specific to the client and matter, designed to ensure our respective interests are aligned.

Rethinking the one-stop law firm

This also chimes with how clients are increasingly using law firms. The one-stop law firm upon which so many firms built their model in the 1990s and 2000s is losing its lustre. Sophisticated clients increasingly unpack legal services to receive the best expertise in different areas. They choose one firm for financing requirements; another for corporate work and yet another for litigation.

This evolution will require law firms to ensure they have the best-in-class lawyers in all of their offerings and be willing to collaborate with other firms as clients cherry-pick the right lawyers to meet their objectives. As a leading litigation firm, Boies Schiller lawyers frequently co-counsel with the corporate, finance and restructuring departments of Magic Circle and leading US firms across the City. This trend is only set to increase.

How we work

Other key changes will happen within law firms themselves, generating a significant cultural and structural shift. Covid is sparking a major re-evaluation. Nearly every lawyer – across all generations – has adapted to working from home and it is unfathomable that we will return to the old order. This means workspaces will need to be completely re-thought; no longer can thousands of square footage dedicated to meeting rooms, in-house dining facilities and individual offices be justified. They are unsustainable economically and will be rejected by lawyers and clients, presenting an opportunity to change the working model.

Post-Covid-19, with heightened reliance on technology-driven services, it will be increasingly important that law firms are lean, nimble and capable of pivoting rapidly to meet changing markets. Huge overheads and real estate footprints will make this far more difficult to achieve.

How we use technology

Technology has shown itself to be a saviour, connecting us to colleagues and clients, enabling work to be executed seamlessly and with relatively little disruption. This has inevitably changed working patterns with people operating flexibly from home. While there will be a continued need for office space and face-to-face meetings, I can see a time when law firms adopt a more flexible model with employees booking desks on days that they need to be in the office. At the click of a button, technology such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom has also dramatically changed the way meetings are conducted across the globe, reducing the need for overseas travel and the world’s carbon footprint in the process. This will continue to be the norm rather than exception. And savings made on real estate can and should be invested in cutting-edge technology in the office and home working.


Many law firms already have innovation departments, implementing artificial intelligence mechanics in research and document assembly, practice management coordination and predictive coding. This will inevitably have an impact on how work is researched, creating efficiencies and an evaluation of what support structures will be needed. As employees become more tech-savvy and self-sufficient, the traditional role of the legal assistant, for example, will need to evolve and diversify.

The drive for efficiency and structural change, better use of technology and the ability to be more fleet of foot in meeting client expectations are just some of the fundamental characteristics that will be the hallmark of the modern law firm.

Sheryl Crow sang, ‘A change would do you good’. That’s never been more true for the legal industry than right now. Creating the blueprint for the modern law firm will be an exciting journey that should be embraced rather than feared. Prepare for the revolution.

Natasha Harrison is co-managing partner and London head of Boies Schiller Flexner

Legal Business

The future of disputes debate: The justice brand

Alex Novarese, Legal Business: Will the UK legal system be more or less trusted post Brexit?

Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, Hinduja Group: As a business, we trust English law and the English courts. Whenever we do business in any part of the world, unless it is in the US, we always go for English law. So long as the courts remain a brand – and they will, irrespective of whether Brexit happens – London will be attractive.

Legal Business

HSF public international law head to boost Boies Schiller City practice following Miles exit

US litigation specialist Boies, Schiller & Flexner has hired Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) head of public international law Dominic Roughton.

Roughton (pictured) will complement the firm’s international arbitration group in London, following the exit of long-serving Wendy Miles QC who quit for rival US firm Debevoise & Plimpton last month.

The firm has also signed a lease to double its office space moving from its current location in Tower 42  to a 13,000 sq ft location on the top floor of 5 New Street Square.

Experienced in international state-to-state and investor-state disputes, Roughton has acted as counsel in commercial arbitrations under ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, SCC, SIAC, JCAA and CIETAC rules.

Boies Schiller managing partner Jonathan Schiller said: ‘International arbitration has been a key area of focus for our firm ever since it was founded 20 years ago, and we have built a record of which we are justifiably proud.

Managing partner for Boies Schiller’s London office, Natasha Harrison, told Legal Business: ‘He’s not a direct replacement [for Miles]. It’s about adding substantial depth to the international disputes practice, particularly in international arbitration. Dominic has an exceptional public international law background which complements our existing commercial arbitration offering.

‘Our strategy for growth is led entirely by client demand. That means finding the right people to meet that demand. Dominic and Matt Getz, recruited last year as part of the global investigations practice, are prime examples of exactly the right people.’

Harrison also indicated that the firm plans to make more partner promotions in London in the near future, after Fiona Huntriss’ promotion last year.

The arrival of Roughton follows the move Kenneth Beale made to Boies Schiller in June 2015, joining from WilmerHale’s arbitration group.

The firm generated £7.6m in the year to October 2015. The UK practice has handled major work for Barclays and M&G Asset Management, as well as acting for bondholders on a high-profile dispute impacting Canary Wharf.

In 2016, Boies Schiller brought a case against the Greek state on behalf of gambling company OPAP, after the state appropriated valuable license rights in the Greek lottery.

Exit terms at Australian firm HSF are notoriously stringent, with the firm recently battling a claim against eight former partners who quit to join White & Case. Court documents from the dispute revealed that former partners cannot join a ‘direct competitor’ within six months of resignation and are also prohibited from practising within ‘restricted areas’ surrounding HSF offices in the same time period.

HSF said New York partner Laurence Shore would lead the global public international law practice with assistance from partner Christian Leathley and partner Andrew Cannon.

Read more: ‘Focal points – Law boutiques and the art of focus’

Legal Business

Corporates sign up to female equality in arbitration pledge launched by Boies Schiller and Freshfields partners


Energy giants BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell are among the first corporates to sign up to a pledge for gender equality when selecting arbitrators launched by senior partners at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

The Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge is a call for the international arbitration community to commit to increase the number of women appointed as arbitrators after decades of being dominated by older males.

In 2015, women accounted for just 16% of arbitrator appointments to London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) run arbitrations. Women made up 71 of the 449 appointments last year, with the bulk of those coming from the LCIA itself, as party-appointed arbitrators continued to be male-dominated. Of the 208 appointments made by the parties in dispute, just 7% were women, compared to 28% female-male ratio when selected by the LCIA. Diversity is equally as poor, often worse, among other arbitral centres and often not reported.

A year-long in the making, the pledge is the brainchild of two of the arbitration community’s leading female names, Sylvia Noury of Freshfields and Wendy Miles QC of Boies Schiller. The pair will co-chair a 30-person steering committee overseeing the group’s progress, which includes BP’s assistant general counsel Joanne Cross and ConocoPhillips’ managing counsel Suzana Blades.

The pledge has attracted over 300 signatures since being launched on Friday, with Orange general counsel Isabelle Hautot, General Electric vice president and senior litigation counsel Bradford Berenson and vice chair of the European Central Bank’s review board, Concetta Brescia Morra, all signing up. Crucially, given their increasingly powerful role in determining who hears and decides upon disputes that end up in arbitration, a large number of arbitral institutions have also signed up, including the LCIA, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

The pledge aims to ensure that:

• Committees, governing bodies and conference panels in the field of arbitration include a fair representation of women;

• Lists of potential arbitrators or tribunal chairs provided to or considered by parties, counsel, in-house counsel or otherwise include a fair representation of female candidates;

• States, arbitral institutions and national committees include a fair representation of female candidates on rosters and lists of potential arbitrator appointees;

• Where they have the power to do so, counsel, arbitrators, representatives of corporates, states and arbitral institutions appoint a fair representation of female arbitrators;

• Gender statistics for appointments (split by party and other appointment) are collated and made publicly available; and

• Senior and experienced arbitration practitioners support, mentor/sponsor and encourage women to pursue arbitrator appointments and otherwise enhance their profiles and practice.

Legal Business

Boies Schiller posts first London revenue figures, raking in £7.6m


Boies, Schiller & Flexner has filed its first office revenues since launching in the City raking in £7.6m through to the end of October 2015.

Having launched its first London base in 2014, the US firm has managed to generate 3% of global revenues that reached $380m. The litigation powerhouse saw gross revenues grow 10% in 2015 from the previous year, with partner profits exceed the $3m mark for the second year straight.

Since its launch into the City, Boies Schiller been instructed by a series of clients and has a few panel wins under its belt including for M&G Asset Management. The office also won the pitch for the high profile Canary Wharf dispute on behalf of Class A1 Noteholders, which includes financial institutions Legal & General and Prudential. It successfully pitched against the likes of Herbert Smith Freehills, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Sidley Austin, Akin Gump and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

London managing partner Natasha Harrison told Legal Business: ‘Over 70% of London office revenue is generated from local clients, with the balance being generated by US clients. For us this is the perfect balance. We are self-funding and profitable, but also connected to the US, and able to serve our US clients on their important international disputes.’

The office comprises 16 fee-earners, including four partners, three counsel and six associates based in London, and last month, the office launched a City investigations practice with the hire of disputes and investigations lawyer Matthew Getz who joined as a partner from Debevoise & Plimpton. This came after Kenneth Beale and Wendy Miles joined from WilmerHale to bulk up the office’s arbitration practice in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

‘We have been focused on growing our international disputes practice in London, and a core part of our strategy is to develop our offering to clients in the international investigations area, including white collar, regulatory and criminal investigations,’ said Harrison. ‘It is all about identifying leading lawyers in their field who can deliver the highest quality of service to our clients. With Matthew on board, we can meet rising client demand for this work, especially in the financial services sector.’

Harrison joined the firm from Bingham McCutchen at the end of 2013 to head the firm’s foray into the London market in 2014. The launch was the firm’s first office outside of the US mainly to service the firm’s major clients including Barclays, which Boies Schiller had been representing over Libor related issues.