CORRECTED-Washington law firm Dickstein loses energy group in latest departures

Mon Jul 1, 2013 8:39pm BST

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(Clarifies not all of the defecting energy group are lawyers, corrects spelling to Jonathan Odell from O'Dell, corrects number of lawyers at Crowell)

By Casey Sullivan

July 1 (Reuters) - The Washington law firm Dickstein Shapiro, following a round of defections over the past four years, is losing a six-member energy group including its chief to the larger Crowell & Moring, both firms said.

Dickstein, a 300-lawyer firm, has become known in the legal industry for its insurance recovery, intellectual property and regulatory practices. Its energy practice is also sizeable and its website lists 22 lawyers specializing in the area, including the firm's chairman.

Dickstein energy practice head Larry Eisenstat, who sat on the firm's executive committee and was at the center of the firm's crucial business decisions, joins Crowell's Washington office with two partners and three junior members.

Eisenstat, who helped build the firm's energy practice, has had clients including Constellation Energy Partners, Reliant Energy, Competitive Power Ventures and NRG Energy .

He is the latest loss for Dickstein, which has seen its lawyer count dip since 2009 from 360 to 308, profits per partner fall from $1,050,000 to $950,000 and revenue slow from $297 million to $258 million, according to trade publication The American Lawyer.

Dickstein Chairman Mike Nannes addressed the firm's financial performance in a statement but did not address the departures other than to wish them well: "We continue to position our firm for the future. With our fiscally sound, debt-free platform, we are confident in our market-leading practices, and clear about our path to continued prosperity."

Nannes declined multiple requests for an interview.

In May, Nannes announced to the firm's lawyers in a memo that he would step down from his post after 10 years. Jim Kelly, the leader of Dickstein's corporate and finance group, will take over as chairman on January 2014, a firm spokeswoman has confirmed.

Eisenstat said in an interview that his move was not linked to the leadership change, but pointed instead to Crowell's energy clients and the firm's geographic reach.

Dickstein energy and corporate partners Jonathan Odell and Patrick Lynch, who worked on Dickstein's energy group on corporate and finance matters, also join Crowell.

The lawyers begin work today.

Crowell staffs nearly 500 lawyers in 11 offices nationwide in a range of practices including litigation, regulatory, corporate, labor and employment, healthcare and government contracts. It ranked No. 83 out of U.S. law firms for its 2012 gross revenue at $350 million and No. 98 in profits per partner at $925,000. (Reporting By Casey Sullivan; Editing by Ted Botha and Chris Reese)

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