National consulting firm LECG Corp., Devon, says it has agreed to sell its aviation and arbitration consulting units to FTI Consulting Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla., and its tax and business consulting groups (formerly Devon-based Smart & Co.) to Chicago-based national accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.
Together the businesses LECG is shedding employ around 350, including 200 in the Philadelphia area, most of whom will move from Devon and other suburban locations to Grant Thornton's Center City offices.
The Grant Thornton deal was negotiated over the past two weeks, by LECG's financial advisor, the investment bank William Blair. Parallel talks over how to combine the offices joined LECG managing director John B. Stine II, with Grant Thornton's Philadelphia boss, Managing Partner Rick Gebert, who will lead the combined group.
Some former Smart employees will be given a choice of joining either Grant Thornton or WeiserMazars LLP, a New York firm that also owns the former Fishbein & Co. PC in Horsham, and typicall has smaller clients than Grant Thornton.
NEW: Some 30 LECG-Smart veterans are joining WeiserMazars in Pennsylvania, including Brian Clouse, Joe Colgan, Diane Franzoni and Jeffrey Palmer, and 10 are joining in Chicago, WeiserMazars says.
ALSO: At least 10 Smart veterans, led by tax partner John McLaughlin, have spurned the Grant Thornton deal. They have opted to join rival BDO, confirmed Scott Balestrier, tax managing partner at BDO's Philadelphia office..

EARLIER: LECG boss Steve Samek is looking for buyers for the firm's remaining units. Some professionals are leaving on their own. Brad Baturka, who had headed LECG's forensic accounting practice in Philadelphia, told me he's joined Elko & Associates Ltd., which has offices in Media and Plymouth Meeting. He and Stine said the parting was amicable.

Stine told me talks took just two weeks, and that among 17 firms who expressed interest in at least part of the company, Grant Thornton was the most willing to hire all former Smart employees, except some back-office headquarters workers.
LECG boss Steve Samek wouldn't say what the buyers paid, but his company noted in a statement that the sales to date won't be enough to repay its $28 million loan agreement. The debt was incurred when LECG bought control of smart from Great Hill Partners of Boston last year. GreatHill remains an investor. LECG also says it expects to extend its loan agreement to March 31, giving it time to seek additional buyers or investors for its remaining practices.
The publicly-traded firm hopes to raise more to pay down its debt, but "the Company does not believe there will be any value remaining for the common stockholders after taking into account the expected net sale values of these transactions in the aggregate, and the use of the proceeds to fund payments to the Company's lenders and unsecured creditors."
UPDATE: Here's highlights from the note sent to LECG-Smart clients by LECG Managing Director John B. Stine II:
"I am very excited to report that our tax, compensation & benefits, consulting and certain components of the audit practice of LECG (formerly SMART Business Advisory and Consulting) have joined Grant Thornton in its offices in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, and London. 

"Grant Thornton, the sixth largest firm globally, proved to be the best choice among the 11 accounting firms and 6 consulting firms that pursued our team. 
"In only 10 days, Grant Thornton went from an initial one-on-one meeting to Board approval and sign-off of a deal that brings over 300 professionals to the firm...

"Our client base includes companies ranging from Fortune 100 New York financial services companies and several of the largest publicly-owned Philadelphia based companies to venture-backed start-ups, family businesses and a substantial individual practice. Grant Thornton was the only firm with a similar roster of clients...
"Grant Thornton’s geographic reach allowed us to do one deal with one firm in contrast to the numerous local firms that showed enormous interest in doing transactions that cut out geographies or service lines [...and] allowed all of our teams (audit, tax, compensation & benefits, IT consulting, insurance consulting and business advisory) to join Grant Thornton teams without any relocation of our people. 
"Finally, the Board of Grant Thornton, and the deal champion Philadelphia Office Managing Partner Rick Gebert, moved quickly, and with great agility, to close a very complicated deal in 5 states and 2 countries in 10 days..."