10 August 2020

Paul Weiss hires partner duo from Boies Schiller to bolster litigation practice

Paul Weiss is planning to expand its footprint on the West Coast

Meredith Dearborn and Jessica Phillips join the firm amid plans for West Coast expansion

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has hired two disputes partners from Boies Schiller Flexner as the firm eyes a possible office opening in Northern California.

Meredith Dearborn and Jessica Phillips both join Paul Weiss’s litigation department, with Dearborn potentially moving to the West Coast, and Phillips staying in Washington DC. 

Both are experienced litigators, with Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp saying the duo’s “experience and track record of success on behalf of the nation’s largest technology companies in their most important matters, will be of great benefit to our clients, including many based on the West Coast.”

Dearborn, who described her move to Paul Weiss as “a new adventure”, has been recognised as a talented litigator by the legal media for some years. Part of the successful defence team for Uber in a recent trade secrets case against Google’s Waymo, her technology experience will be crucial to Paul Weiss’s future plans to open in Silicon Valley.

The arrival of the duo follows the trophy hire of former Boies Schiller partner and technology law specialist Karen Dunn in June. Dunn made the move alongside fellow colleague and antitrust partner Bill Isaacson.  

Karp described Dearborn and Phillips’ arrival as a “transformative opportunity” for the firm and although no specific location or date has been announced for the opening of a Northern Californian office, the firm is seeking to expand its work with technology companies who, he said, face “significant legal, regulatory and political challenges and exposures as their influence continues to grow.”  

Dunn and Isaacson have acted for clients such as Apple, Oracle, Facebook, Uber and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with Dunn also partnering with Dearborn in previous cases. Karp’s comments indirectly referenced current antitrust investigations into big technology companies, which are likely to impact almost every part of that sector.

Phillips, meanwhile, brings extensive experience in a broad range of commercial litigation areas, from employment law and business disputes, to constitutional law. She has also defended anti-corruption prosecutions and related sanctions, and export control instructions, in which she managed successful corporate defences.

That last suite of skills will be useful to tech sector clients as US-China trade tensions build up, with the Trump administration announcing potential measures against the popular video-sharing app TikTok. 

Phillips leaves Boies Schiller after four years, having previously spent seven-and-a-half years at Latham & Watkins. She is also currently providing pro bono representation to individuals injured while protesting the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. She joins Dunn and Isaacson in the DC office.

Dearborn and Phillips’ exit is the latest in a series of blows for Boies Schiller, with the firm losing around 20 lawyers to various firms between April and late July.

Paul Weiss will not be alone in opening in Silicon Valley this year—in July, UK magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer made five new lateral hires to open their seven-partner office there. 

Lauren Woodhead contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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