Nine years after a 14-lawyer exodus led to the demise of a prominent bankruptcy firm, the partners left behind are finally getting their day in court.
An Essex County judge has scheduled an April trial in a suit charging that Roseland, New Jersey’s Lowenstein Sandler violated fair business practice rules and stole financial secrets in poaching the lawyers from Ravin, Sarasohn, Cook, Baumgarten, Fisch & Rosen, also in Roseland.
Within a month of the February 2000 defections, the remaining 50 or so attorneys and support staff scattered, leaving behind a shell firm that is seeking damages.
The 260-lawyer Lowenstein Sandler, the state’s second-largest firm, denies it violated any legal or business ethics guidelines on the hiring of laterals. The firm says Ravin Sarasohn was in dire financial straits well before Lowenstein Sandler made the offers.
The suit alleges Lowenstein Sandler induced three equity partners to break a provision of the Ravin Sarasohn partnership agreement that required a 60-day notice of withdrawal. It also claims Lowenstein Sandler schemed to “steal confidential Ravin, Sarasohn financial information” to target and solicit key attorneys.
Lowenstein Sandler, formerly Lowenstein, Sandler, Kohl, Fisher & Boylan, is a corporate law firm ranked 161st largest in the US in terms of attorney headcount, and 84th in profit per attorney by the AmLaw 200.
The firm maintains offices in Roseland, New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; New York City, and Palo Alto, California.