Dozens of Partners Leave Global Law Firm K&L Gates
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Summary: Despite a great financial win, numerous partners leave legal powerhouse K&L Gates.

Last month, law firm K&L Gates announced it made a $210 million contingency fee as a result of a $750 million patent settlement, but now ABA Journal reports almost 30 partners exited anyway. So what’s happening?


ABA Journal writes that the departure has nothing to do with financial problems, but instead with management. They cited a source who complained to Law360 that the firm was “run like a dictatorship.” The management was allegedly so bad that equity partners who would have benefited substantially from that contingency fee still left.

K&L Gates is managed by a 75-member management committee. However, ABA Journal states that Law360 sources say the majority of members are primarily there to not disagree with firm chairman Peter Kalis.

According to K&L Gates’ website, Kalis is the firm’s chairman and global managing partner, and, “During his tenure as Chairman, the firm has grown from under 400 lawyers in six offices in the Eastern Time Zone to over 2,000 lawyers in 45 offices on five continents. He is the only law firm leader to be recognized on three of the industry’s most prestigious lists.”

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Kalis responded to the criticism of him and his management. He said that the complaints are unfair and that the firm works to give partners a voice. He believes the complaints stem from those who do not fit in with the firm’s culture.

Fifteen partners left for Mayer Brown, and the group included Laurence Platt, who reportedly earned $30 million worth of business for K&L Gates. In addition to snagging the fifteen partners, Mayer Brown also hired 17 other lawyers from the firm.

Four K&L Gates partners headed to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and it’s rumored they are bringing others with them.

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young also hired four K&L Gates partners.

Former partners told Am Law Daily that partner profits were diminished because of high administrative and real estate overhead. Some also said that the partners had to pay as much as 60% of their annual compensation to the firm.

Kalis acknowledged that partners would be attracted to other firms with lower buy-ins.

According to the K&L Gates website, the company employs 2,000 lawyers globally. The firm has been consistently ranked as one of the top 10 firms in various categories from organizations like U.S. News and World Report and BTI Client Services. Notable alumni include Rick Santorum, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and Eric Schneiderman, the current New York Attorney General.

Source: ABA Journal


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