The previous anointed successor to veteran US trial lawyer David Boies plans to stop his agency Boies Schiller Flexner to launch a rival London follow.
Natasha Harrison, who was till September deputy chair of the powerhouse New York agency, had been seen as the subsequent in line to take over from Boies as chair.
She is probably the most excessive profile in a string of latest defections from Boies Schiller, whose status has been tarnished in recent times by its affiliation with Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film mogul, and Theranos, the fraudulent blood-testing start-up.
Harrison has centered the London workplace on monetary disputes and is at the moment main a class-action lawsuit in opposition to Credit score Suisse, representing traders within the Swiss financial institution’s Greensill-linked supply-chain finance funds. She can be representing bondholders who’re suing Credit score Suisse over Mozambique’s $2bn “tuna bonds” scandal.
Harrison advised the Monetary Occasions that she was leaving to arrange a “completely different kind of legislation agency”, having been appointed deputy chair of Boies Schiller final yr and tasked with restructuring the enterprise.
Harrison was named co-managing associate in 2019 alongside Nicholas Gravante, who defected to Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in December after pushing for a merger between the corporations. Harrison was at that time named deputy chair — and inheritor obvious — however stepped again from that function in September to return to her managing associate place.
“I grew to become managing associate in an excellent interval of instability and the entire agency wanted to be reset,” she stated. “I really feel I’ve executed [that] technique and . . . now it’s time to move it again to the US to take it to the subsequent stage.”
The brand new follow, which can launch early subsequent yr, will give attention to high-end business litigation together with large monetary markets instances and arbitrations. The agency will function versatile payment fashions and Harrison desires to create an setting “the place the technology developing can actually thrive”, together with by way of performance-based pay and versatile hours.
Boies Schiller will preserve a London base after Harrison’s exit. However a major variety of companions are anticipated to depart together with her, based on an individual near the agency, and her departure means the potential lack of vital purchasers and instances.
That impression follows a yr of upheaval for the agency, which lately closed three workplaces in a streamlining effort and has gone from a peak of 350 legal professionals to fewer than 200.
The agency was constructed across the large character of star litigator Boies, now 80, who based it with Jonathan Schiller within the late Nineties. It’s present process a tough generational and managerial transition.
Boies is extensively considered one of the vital expert trial legal professionals of his technology. Amongst different seismic instances, he represented the US Division of Justice in its antitrust victory over Invoice Gates and Microsoft; represented vice-president Al Gore within the authorized case that grew out of the Florida recount in 2000; and helped overturn a ban on homosexual marriage in California.
However the agency is now attempting to maneuver in direction of a extra balanced base. Talking to the Monetary Occasions final yr, Harrison stated Boies Schiller “doesn’t simply rotate round David now”.
Boies Schiller has additionally been dogged by destructive publicity surrounding Boies’s directorship at Theranos, the Silicon Valley start-up whose blood-testing know-how turned out to be a fraud.
He was additionally the longtime lawyer for Weinstein, the Hollywood producer and convicted rapist. The New York Occasions Firm, one other longtime consumer, fired Boies Schiller after it emerged that the agency had employed personal detectives to intimidate journalists and whistleblowers within the Weinstein case.
Harrison acknowledges that companions did depart on account of these points — greater than 70 had left within the earlier 18 months by March final yr — however she claims the primary concern has been a scarcity of succession planning.
Harrison, who relocated to Florida together with her household for 3 months at the beginning of lockdown final yr, stated the pandemic had made her re-evaluate her profession. “I simply thought if I don’t do it now I by no means will, and the thought of constructing a contemporary legislation agency which would be the blueprint for the longer term may be very thrilling,” she stated.
Boies Schiller didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.