Richmond, Va.-based law firm LeClairRyan has poached on at least 15 Nixon Peabody lawyers, including 5 partners, who will focus on expand upon the firm's capabilities in intellectual property, bankruptcy and commercial litigation practices in the newly established Rochester, N.Y. office.

Including support staff, the total number of people joining LeClairRyan's new office is around 34. The office, located at 290 Linden Oaks, is being headed by former Nixon Peabody partner Andrew Zappia.

The news is not a good one for Nixon Peabody, whose headcount of lawyers in its Rochester office has dropped to 78 from 120, according to the Rochester Business Journal (RBJ).

Most of the departed lawyers worked in Nixon Peabody's intellectual property and patent groups. Others are commercial and bankruptcy litigators.

Some of those leaving Nixon Peabody are Michael Goldman (IP attorney), Georgia Evans (IP attorney), Gunnar Leinberg (IP and patent attorney), Gregory Mascitti (bankruptcy and commercial litigator), Richard McGuirk (commercial litigator) Edwin Merkel (patent attorney) and Tate Tischner (IP attorney). While Leinberg, Mascitti, McGuirk, Merkel and Zappia will be joining LeClairRyan as shareholders, Evans, Harris, Tischner and Goldman will be joining LeClairRyan as partners. Goldman has also been named to the Virginia firm's board of directors.

Other Nixon Peabody lawyers joining LeClairRyan are Suvashis Bhattacharya (IP attorney), Shelley Jones (patent attorney) and Jeffrey Townes (patent attorney). While Bhattacharya has been named as a partner in LeClairRyan's San Francisco office, Jones has been named as a partner of LeClairRyan's Washington and Alexandria, Va. offices. Townes has also been named as a partner of the Virginia firm.

This is not the first time Nixon Peabody has witnessed departure of its partners and rainmakers. In the past, top lawyers have quit Nixon Peabody to join rivals such as DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

However, the law firm appears least perturbed and has asserted in a statement that it has strong capabilities across the board and is attracting top talent.

We continue to have a very strong office in Rochester and provide expertise to our clients across the nation and internationally. Our Intellectual Property Department is a nationally ranked top-practice, we have strong capabilities across the firm including in the life sciences area, and we continue to attract top talent in Rochester and nationally. Nixon Peabody is fully committed to growth in our Rochester office, which is home to some of our most important clients and many of our most talented attorneys, Nixon Peabody spokeswoman Allison McClain told the RBJ in an emailed statement.