Alembic has sued Holland & Knight for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud and nine other counts.

In 1 on January 12, 2009 at 1:18 am

Multinational law firm Holland & Knight LLP has become embroiled in a legal wrangle with a Montgomery County recruitment consultancy that helped it hire several of its senior attorneys.

At issue is who should be paid for recruiting Richard Jay Ferris Jr. and Hongjin Zhang, both experts on Chinese law who joined Holland & Knight in October 2004.

The law firm, founded in Tampa, Fla., employs more than 1,250 attorneys and is one of the top 15 largest law firms in the world, according to its Web site.

Alembic Consulting Inc., based in Rockville, claims it is owed a fee of $151,500 for the Ferris and Zhang hires. That is disputed by Nelson Korchak, a former member of the headhunting firm, who left to set up his own consultancy at around the time the two lawyers were hired.

Korchak says he set up the deal on his own and should be paid $145,000, with his former colleagues receiving nothing.

Holland & Knight, sent invoices by both parties, opted to pay neither, prompting a lawsuit from Korchak, filed last month in Montgomery County Circuit Court against both the firm and Alembic.

Alembic responded early this month by filing counter-claims against Korchak and a cross-claim against Holland & Knight.

We are caught in the middle of a divorce, said Philip T. Evans, a partner at Holland & Knight's Washington D.C. office. We hope they can get it resolved.

He is not so sanguine about some of the allegations in Alembic's cross-claim, in which the company alleges Holland & Knight owes it $225,000 for several other transactions not mentioned in Korchak's suit.

Alembic has sued Holland & Knight for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud and nine other counts.

It is also claiming $100,000 in punitive damages.

We disagree with the allegations, Evans said. It's just a method of overaggressive lawyering Alembic has chosen to pursue.

Alembic's lawyer, Michael J. Trevelline, countered by alleging that Holland & Knight appears to favor Korchak.

I don't think it's overaggressive, he said of the cross-claim. They are stiffing my client and then claiming they are innocent.

Formed in 2003, Alembic consisted of Korchak, Ralph Kopp and Jason Mahaney, who had all previously worked at Fairfax, Va.-based S.R. Clarke Inc., another recruitment consultancy, according to both lawsuits.

Korchak left in August 2004, according to his suit, but he claims that the Zhang and Ferris deals were both completed after that date as a result of his work.

Alembic alleges in its suit that the company had an agreement with Holland & Knight dating from 2003, covering the Zhang and Ferris transactions.

Korchak reached a separate secret agreement with Holland & Knight in March 2004, Alembic alleges. It maintains that the later agreement did not supersede the law firm's deal with Alembic.

Alembic also alleges that Korchak left the company because he had incurred debts to his colleagues that he was unable to pay.

Korchak's attorneys could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Daily Record, The (Baltimore) by Lawrence Hurley

Posted via email from HKLaw Investigation


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