Natasha Harrison steps down from Boies Schiller's leadership role

3 minute read

The logo of law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP is seen outside of their office in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Harrison remains as one of the firm’s four managing partners
  • David Boies says the firm has not appointed a successor for Harrison

(Reuters) - Boies Schiller Flexner said on Wednesday that Natasha Harrison, a London-based lawyer who was seen to be next in line to take the reins from the firm's chair, famed trial lawyer David Boies, has stepped down from her role as deputy chair of the litigation firm.

Harrison had been tapped as co-managing partner and one of Boies' likely successors in 2019, along with former partner Nicholas Gravante. She was elevated to the deputy chair post last December after Gravante decamped for Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

In a firmwide email obtained by Reuters, the firm's managing partners, and founders Boies and Jonathan Schiller, said "a variety of professional and very personal factors" that are largely tied to challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to Harrison's decision.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

"International travel restrictions have prevented Natasha from spending the kind of time in the U.S., actively engaging with the leadership team, the Firm and our U.S.-based clients, that she feels is necessary to fulfill the obligations of the Deputy Chair position," the email said.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Boies said the firm has not appointed a successor for Harrison and will discuss whether there is a need for the deputy chair role.

Harrison will remain one of the firm's four managing partners, serving alongside Sigrid McCawley, Matthew Schwartz, and Alan Vickery, and will continue to serve on its executive committee.

"We have a transparent, effective team of managing partners," Harrison said in the interview with Reuters on Wednesday. "I expect the other managing partners will become more involved in other aspects of the business I've been leading on. I think from a firm perspective, things will be quite seamless."

The firm was founded in 1997, the same year Boies was hired by the U.S. government in antitrust litigation against Microsoft Corp, boosting the firm's reputation as a litigation powerhouse. He later represented Vice President Al Gore in the U.S. Supreme Court battle over the 2000 presidential election recount.

The firm had for years been among the most profitable U.S. law firms, with partners commonly earning seven-figure compensation, according to data from The American Lawyer.

But, it has lost dozens of partners since the start of 2020. Departing lawyers cited concerns over transparency, culture and the health of the firm, among other factors, as their reasons for leaving. Harrison has said in previous interviews that some of the departures were planned and part of a restructuring and leadership change.

Last year, the firm's revenue dropped 38% to $250 million while profits per equity partner dropped by 32% to nearly $2.3 million, according The American Lawyer.

Looking ahead, Boies said he is expecting better financial results for this year.

"Our revenue was down significantly last year in part because of the pandemic and in part because the number of lawyers that we had reduced," Boies said. "But I think this year we will be well over the million dollars of revenue per lawyer benchmark."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Xiumei Dong covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firm strategy and growth, in-house counsel and the Washington, D.C., legal market. Reach her at Xiumei.Dong@thomsonreuters.com.