Natasha Harrison, the London lawyer once pegged as likely successor to American litigator David Boies at the firm he founded, is leaving Boies Schiller Flexner.
Harrison is starting a boutique firm in London, sources familiar with the situation told Bloomberg Law Wednesday. The move comes less than three months after she announced she would step down from her leadership posts at the firm.
Harrison and two Boies Schiller spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The departure means that both lawyers tapped in late 2019 to help the firm transition away from the leadership of founders Boies and Jonathan Schiller are now gone. Manhattan litigator Nick Gravante left the firm and his role as co-managing partner last year after unsuccessfully lobbying Boies and Schiller to explore a merger with New York’s Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
Harrison joined Boies Schiller to open its London office in 2013 and is widely credited with increasing revenue there amid an overall downturn as several notable U.S. partners fled the firm in recent years. She’s currently leading U.K. litigation against Credit Suisse over its role in Mozambique’s $2 billion “tuna bonds” scandal.
Boies, the 80-year-old trial lawyer who has seen public criticism over his work for Harvey Weinstein and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, is expected to again be named the firm’s chairman following its annual winter meeting.
Harrison had served as vice chair and was one of four managing partners—along with Sigrid McCawley, Matthew Schwartz, and Alan Vickery—said to be tasked with running much of the firm’s day-to-day operations.
“One of my goals when I became a managing partner was to grow the firm into a next generation firm,” Harrison told Bloomberg Law in September, “to pivot away from individual personalities.”
She told Bloomberg Law in September that pandemic-related travel restrictions had made it difficult to fulfill her leadership duties. The U.S. earlier this month eased restrictions on travel to the country from the U.K. and Europe.
The firm reported a 38% decline in gross revenue last year, trimming profits per partner by nearly a third, according to The American Lawyer. Its attorney headcount has fallen by more than 40% over the last two years to 177 at the end of last year.
Despite the departures of several rainmakers, Boies Schiller is likely to see a cash infusion next year. A federal judge in Alabama is weighing whether to approve a nearly $630 million fee award for the firm and other lawyers involved in a massive antitrust class action against Blue Cross Blue Shield. Boies Schiller’s piece of that haul is expected to be about $125 million, which is half of the total revenue the firm brought in last year.
The firm recently added 15 new lawyers to launch an office in Milan, Italy, its first new outpost in eight years. The move, which Boies told Bloomberg Law was necessary to give the firm an EU presence following Brexit, signals a tacit shift away from London.
Boies said he doesn’t expect the firm’s headcount to jump back up to the 300 or so lawyers the firm employed in previous years.
“If there was a way to stay at 150, that wouldn’t be a bad place,” he said in a Nov. 3 interview. “Maybe a little larger than that.”