When D.C. office Quinn Emanuel snagged Weil Gotshal’s two litigation partners, Michael Lyle and Eric Lyttle, it seemed for some to be business as usual. After all, lateral hiring is high right now, especially on Quinn’s front. But was it business as usual? There have been mixed reports on how Weil has handled the transition. Some have said that “It’s not an ugly or awkward situation,” as they said to Above the Law, but there is some indication that Weil actively fought to keep the two – Mike Lyle was managing partner of the D.C. office, and both of them were popular in the office – but ultimately failed.
This apparently lent itself some bitterness to the Weil tribe as Barry Wolf, the executive partner of Weil, flew in from New York to detail in a meeting how Steven Tyrrell would replace Lyle and what the departures would mean. One of Above the Law’s tipsters also said that Wolf “trashed Mike and Eric as disloyal, to the entire office,” rendering a confused and bitter scene, and that subsequently, “Morale is very low – this is a big blow … It’s a real mess.”
Whether that is actually the case is uncertain, however, as others are quoted as saying that morale was already low due to Mike’s disengaged management, and further that Quinn is basically hated for other reasons – having already once stolen a partner, William Burck, in 2012, and now representing the opposite side in a court case:
“There’s a ton of bad blood between Weil and Quinn Emanuel,” said one commentator. “Weil is representing Apple in the smartphones war, QE has the Android side.”
That also sounds like business as usual, but there might be some telltale signs that Weil is angry, such as their insistence that the departing partners stick to the requirements of their partnership agreement. This is not often enforced and means that Lyle and Lyttle may be forestalled in leaving to join Quinn.
Whatever the case, lateral moves are on the rise, and if any firms resort to a little bad talking to quell the wounds of drained partners that would only make sense.