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Patton healthcare team defects to Akin

John Jonas, who founded the healthcare policy practice at K Street king Patton Boggs, has joined Akin Gump.

He brings with him six others, and the firm said in its announcement that more people are expected to come along from Patton Boggs soon.

Martha Kendrick, Karen Smith Thiel and Anurag Varma, who are partners at Patton, are making the switch in addition to senior policy advisor M. Todd Tuten and senior counsel Richard Thompson, Akin announced on Thursday.

“Our team was immediately attracted by Akin Gump’s substantive strength in health care and public law and policy work, which is renowned throughout the industry, and its depth in other areas of importance to our clients, particularly intellectual property and private funds-related work,” Jonas said in a statement.

“With a group of this size and depth, we will have an unparalleled capability in area sector that makes up almost a quarter of our economy,” Joel Jankowsky, a senior partner and former head of Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice, said in a release.

Patton Boggs recently finalized a merger with Squire Sanders that becomes effective on June 1. It is expected that its flagship Washington office will lose 40 or 50 attorneys during the transition, either by defection, through retirement or because they had not been invited to join the new firm, Squire Patton Boggs.

On Tuesday, The Hill reported that K Street’s rumor mill suspected Jonas and part of his healthcare team would defect to Akin, the No. 2 lobby firm.

“In any law firm merger of this magnitude, some individuals will choose not to participate for any number of reasons, including fit, conflicts, and others," said Ed Newberry, the global managing partner focused on regulatory and policy solutions at Squire Patton Boggs on Tuesday. "While we are sorry to see this group of attorneys leave, we are excited to embark on a new chapter in continuing to build our public policy practice.

Akin Gump said that adding the team will make the firm's healthcare policy practice one of the largest in the U.S.

Akin said it will also affiliate with Lu Zawistowich, who is leaving Patton Boggs to form her own healthcare consulting firm, CapView Associates. “CapView will provide policy analysis, research and strategic advice to health care stakeholders on payment models, delivery system reform and coverage issues in Medicare, Medicaid and the health care exchanges,” according to a release.