Ogletree Deakins loses another group of lawyers

Firm has seen the departure of 12 lawyers in two weeks

Anyone who didn’t know any better may wonder if a mass exodus was afoot at Atlanta-based law firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart. 

This week, the firm accepted the resignation of six lawyers—all of whom are expected to head over to competing labor and employment firm Littler Mendelson. Last week, the firm lost another six lawyers. And all of them also jumped ship for Littler. 

The 12-lawyer exodus is all happening in the wake of the departure of Ogletree’s former vice president and shareholder Don Prophete. Amid what seems to have been some major in-house drama, Prophete tendered his resignation in March, claiming the firm had mistreated a fellow Ogletree colleague. Last week, Prophete announced he was going to Littler … and he was taking six Ogletree lawyers with him.

One of the lawyers who left with Phophete told Thomson Reuters the weeks leading up to his resignation were “chaotic” and everyone was “waiting to see what would happen next.”

Above the Law has a detailed story about the events leading up to Prophete’s departure, including excerpts from his scathing resignation letter.

Ogletree Deakins Managing Shareholder Kim Ebert said the firm is disappointed the lawyers are leaving, but their departure will not impact Ogletree’s commitment to its clients or its growth model, pointing out that the firm has opened two offices and added 15 lateral shareholders this year.

“While we hate to see these 12 attorneys leave, we have more than 650 lawyers who successfully practice with us in 44 offices, and our focus is on them and our outstanding clients,” he says.

Ebert also said that the 12 lawyers to leave with Prophete are far fewer than the former Ogletree shareholder claimed would follow him. “Only four of the 20 lawyers in Kansas City (where Prophete was based) have chosen to join him, and those lawyers who had worked with him the longest have chosen to stay with our firm,” Ebert adds.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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