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James Hurst Shakes Legal World by Leaving Winston Strawn
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lateral move to Kirkland

Summary: Rainmaking lawyer James Hurst leaves one large Chicago firm for another.

You know you’ve hit that sweet spot in your legal career when you make a lateral move and your steps of departure echo throughout the country. As we’ve mentioned before,  so it is with James Hurst, a heavy hitter in the Chicago legal market who is leaving Winston & Strawn after 25 years to join Kirkland & Ellis.

  
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“His reputation is so big nationally,” said Bobbie McMorrow, a large firm legal consultant, “I got 10 emails this morning from other managing partners and heads of intellectual property who were surprised he left Winston. This is as big a deal as Chicago is going to see.”

Hurst’s reputation was built over decades, and began when he graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1989. In 2012 the American Lawyer placed him as one of the top eight finalists for Litigator of the Year. His is a name recognized nationally, in part for the work he’s done for Winston working on their Executive Committee, and also as a chair on their acclaimed litigation department.

Hurst was chairman at Winston, representing such pharmaceutical companies as Abbott Laboratories, who in 2003 quadrupled their HIV/AIDs drug cost, raising antitrust claims. He advised them throughout their court case.

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Winston is sad to see him go, but recognizes that Hurst can’t work with name brand pharmaceuticals with equal freedom as he could at the new firm since Winston deals especially with generic drug makers.

As Thomas Fitzgerald, Winston’s managing partner, said, “He is a great partner and friend. Obviously maintaining the generic clients is important to us. We have plenty of lawyers who can continue to represent those clients and we hope those clients will stay with us.”



This sounds a tad nervous, but Kirkland meanwhile is eager for the acquisition, saying, “Jim has earned acclaim as one of the finest trial lawyers in the country. His experience trying cases across a range of areas and industries, including in intellectual property disputes, made him a perfect fit for our practice and client base.”

That the coveted James Hurst managed to be a “perfect fit,” need not surprise us. Aligning our own careers to give our parting steps such a resonant echo is what concerns us, and in this James can give us a bit of inspiration. Building a career where you make waves by a lateral move shows you are doing something right.



 

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