Pierce Bainbridge Adds More Big Law Recruits in New York, DC

Founder John Pierce claims his young firm has “cracked the code of building a law firm for the digital age.”

By Meghan Tribe | October 30, 2018

Soon after boasting that it would surpass Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as a litigation powerhouse (https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/08/02/is-this-the-fastest-growingfirm-in-big-law/), Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht has recruited four new partners and an executive to the rapidly expanding firm in the past week.

Former Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison associate Jeffrey Newton and ex-Reed Smith counsel Tillman Breckenridge joined as partners in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively. The firm also added Kristin Darr, an attorney who was strategic marketing manager at Linklaters in New York, as of counsel and chief marketing officer.

Those additions come just days after Pierce Bainbridge announced its addition of ex-Davis Polk & Wardwell partner Patrick Bradford and former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati senior associate Craig Bolton as partners in New York, where Pierce Bainbridge opened an office earlier this year (http://www.law.com/therecorder/2018/07/10/fast-growing-la-boutiqueexpands-in-new-york/).

“We’re really putting together the best of the best from the big firms,” said managing partner John Pierce, who founded the firm (https://www.law.com/almID/1202776068666/) in early 2017.

Pierce, a former partner at Latham & Watkins and Quinn Emanuel, started what is now Pierce Bainbridge following his sudden departure from K&L Gates in 2016 (https://www.law.com/sites/almstaff/2016/06/06/a-new-kl-gates-hirequickly-and-quietly-departs/). He briefly served as the co-head of K&L Gates’ litigation group, which hired him earlier that year from Latham to serve as a partner in its Silicon Valley office and in its Pittsburgh headquarters.

Pierce reappeared a year later as managing partner and co-founder of Pierce Sergenian, alongside former Quinn Emanuel colleague David Sergenian.

While Sergenian subsequently left Pierce Sergenian to form his own shop, Pierce Bainbridge has been on a lateral tear in its short life span, recruiting from a number of Am Law 100 firms and going through several name changes (https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/03/26/ex-big-law-partnersboutique-has-both-a-new-name-and-office/) in the process.

“There’s a very self-selecting person that ends up at a young company like this,” said Bolton, who focused on complex commercial and intellectual property disputes at Wilson Sonsini.

“One of the fun things about Wilson Sonsini is we work with a lot of these sort of young, dynamic companies that were disrupting existing organizations,” Bolton said. “So jumping over to a place like Pierce Bainbridge, it’s exciting. It’s basically an opportunity to join one of those companies—to be a part of something that’s new, innovative and trying to change a business model that’s existed for a long time.”

Just a few months after opening up shop, Pierce Bainbridge struck a deal with Scottsdale, Arizona-based litigation financier Pravati Capital (https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/almID/1202785191902/), becoming one of the first public examples of a portfolio financing for a firm’s slate of contingency matters. The firm has also made strategic investments in technology, partnering with artificial intelligence system ROSS Intelligence (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/artificial-intelligence-is-the-newhi-tech-game-changer-for-lawyers-300693001.html) to use its litigation-focused research tools to streamline its services.

The firm’s willingness to experiment extends to the way it structures its fees, new partners said.

“I do believe the firm encourages you to develop new business and bring it in with a price structure that works for you,” said its newest hire Bradford, who was the first African-American equity partner at Davis Polk.

While Bradford said he would ideally like to bill clients at $800 an hour, he said a benefit of his new firm is the freedom to make arrangements that work for both the client and the firm.

“We’re not giving our services away for free,” he said. “But I would say that flexibility in pricing is a big selling point, especially when you have people who are working together for the first time.”

Newton, who spent seven years at Paul Weiss, echoed that point.

“The ability to come up with a fee arrangement and a way to work a case for a client is candidly something that can be harder at a firm with a more entrenched model that is reliant on a certain level of fees just because of the overhead,” Newton said.

“That sort of dynamism is another thing that has attracted clients and me, candidly, to Pierce Bainbridge,” he added.

Newton first joined Paul Weiss in 2009 but left a year later for successive clerkships with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Newton returned to Paul Weiss in 2012, where he worked on complex litigation matters, including securities class actions.

In his move to Pierce Bainbridge, he is also joined by Breckenridge, an appellate litigation partner at Bailey & Glasser in Washington, D.C. Before joining the litigation firm, Breckenridge was a senior associate at Fulbright & Jaworski and counsel at Reed Smith, where he worked in each firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and appellate practice.

There are many more lateral additions on the horizon, Pierce said, declining to name specifics.

“Nothing and no one is going to stop us,” said Pierce of his firm’s latest hires. “We have cracked the code of building a law firm for the digital age.”

Copyright 2018. ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

Download PDF