02 Sep 2021

Boies Schiller’s London-based deputy chair steps down citing Covid-19 US travel restrictions

Natasha Harrison says running US firm from overseas over extended period is impractical

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The London-based deputy chair of New York litigation specialists Boies Schiller Flexner, who was being lined up to be the firm's next leader, is stepping down from the role.

Natasha Harrison told Bloomberg Law the move was driven by the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic “had increased in scope and duration” making her role impractical.

“I’m sitting in London running a US firm with managing partners who are there, but I can’t be there,” she said. “You need to be present.”

She added that she would stay on as one of four managing partners at least until the end of the year.

It is the latest of a series of management shake-ups at Boies Schiller, where chairman and co-founder David Boies remains at the helm overseeing ongoing efforts to transition its leadership to a new generation of partners.

Harrison emerged as the heir apparent to Boies last December, when she was promoted from co-managing partner to the deputy chair role after fellow co-managing partner Nicholas Gravante quit for Cadwalder Wickersham & Taft. At the same time, three US-based co-managing partners were appointed.

The firm experienced a steady stream of partner departures during 2020, including a 13-partner West Coast team, which joined King & Spalding. Law.com reported that its lawyer headcount fell by 41% from 300 to 177 attorneys in 2020 with revenue down by 38% to $250m.

In an interview with The Financial Times in April last year, Harrison and Gravante said they were leading a restructuring that included an overhaul of the firm’s compensation system for younger lawyers as part of a plan to make it smaller, better organised and focused more heavily on big ticket litigation.

Previously, the firm had experienced a run of bad publicity, notably around Boies’s former representation of now convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein and his association with discredited blood-testing company Theranos, where he was a board member.

Harrison joined Boies Schiller in 2013 from Bingham McCutchen to set up and lead its London office as managing partner. She joined the firm’s executive committee in October 2017.

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