Ballard Spahr says it's grabbed lawyer Philip N. Yannella from rival law firm Dechert to head its "E-Discovery" and data-management practice. 
At Dechert, Yannella represented drug and hospital companies in what Ballard calls "bet-the-company litigation" touching on digital records, as well as proposals to the FDA for drug approvals.

"'Electronic discovery' has become a bit of a misnomer," Yannella, a Cheltenham High-Temple-Temple Law ('97) grad, told me. "Most discovery is now electronic. The volume of data is enormous. Huge companies manage terabytes of data on a daily basis... The more sophisticated a company is, the more complex its array it needs to be. How, from a legal perspective, do we manage data? The technology is changing very rapidly. The courts sometimes lag the technology."

At Ballard he'll defend corporate clients against commercial litigation, product liability and damage claims. “E-Discovery is on every general counsel’s radar," Ballard boss Arthur Makadon said in a statement.

Why'd he switch? "I was a partner at Dechert, I loved it, I worked on a lot of really cutting edge cases, it was really, really difficult for me to leave," Yannella told me. He said he was seduced by "the opportunity to start a practice group and put together a great team... I'm basically a Philly guy. I have a lot of connections in the city. Those connections help me quite a lot."  

It's not just Ballard. Rival Reed Smith lifted David Cohen and 14 other lawyers and staff from K&L Gates' "E-Discovery" practice recently, reports the Legal Intelligencer here.