Morgan Lewis Loses Two More to Reed Smith

Maya Meinert

Daily Journal

December 18, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Two more insurance recovery attorneys have left Morgan, Lewis & Bockius for Reed Smith, following the departure of two others last week, to bolster Reed Smith's growing policy holder-side practice.

San Francisco partner David E. Weiss and Chicago partner Thomas A. Marrinson joined Reed Smith Monday. They arrived on the heels of former Morgan Lewis insurance recovery practice co-chair David M. Halbreich and partner Douglas C. Rawles, who joined the firm's Los Angeles office.

Weiss, who graduated from the University of San Francisco Law School in 1990, Halbreich and Rawles have worked together since their days at the former Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.

"David is one of most creative lawyers I know," Halbreich said. "We'll continue to practice together in the same way we have been because we have some of the same clients. He's someone I turn to often."

Although changing law firms, Weiss and Marrinson will remain in their respective cities.

Weiss, 42, represents corporate policy holders in complex insurance coverage disputes, including environmental, product, and errors and omissions liability.

Though he declined to name the clients he would be taking with him, Weiss said he will be bringing his major clients with him to Reed Smith.

He has represented McKesson Corp., a health care services and information technology company, in litigation over coverage of millions of dollars in environmental liabilities, as well as ETrade in litigation over coverage for underlying stock-loan lawsuits.

David A. Thompson, managing partner of Reed Smith's San Francisco office, said Weiss will strengthen the firm's insurance recovery practice on the West Coast.

"His skill set, client roster, his excitement about using the platform of Reed Smith nationally and internationally is something that David can help us with and that we can help David in expanding his insurance recovery practice," Thompson said.

At the time Halbreich and Rawles joined Reed Smith, Rawles attributed the move to a business decision made by Morgan Lewis that affected their policy-holder practice. Weiss echoed Rawles' reason for leaving the firm.

But according to an industry insider who spoke on condition of anonymity, Morgan Lewis, as well as other firms, have lawyers who act as panel counsel for "some of the world's largest insurance carriers."

These attorneys have been pre-approved by insurance companies to represent their policy holders in litigation. Law firms that have both panel counsel and a policy holder-side insurance recovery practice may experience tension because panel counsel fees are paid by insurance companies, and insurance recovery lawyers' clients sue the same companies.

Jami McKeon, deputy leader of Morgan Lewis' litigation practice and chair of the firm's commercial litigation group, said in an e-mail, "We wish David all the best, and we'll miss him as a colleague and friend, but the bottom line for our insurance recovery and litigation practice is that neither its strength nor its client base will be affected. This particular practice is truly national in scope and is one of the country's most diverse."

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