According to one lawyer who asked not to be identified, attorneys were working 12-hour days and weekends reviewing documents and helping with the case. Twenty-two lawyers were assigned to the case and billed 240 to 270 hours a month.
The case was profitable for the firm, which billed $2 million a month, the source said.
There was no sign of trouble late last month when Brown, celebrating his 60th birthday, flew his four partners to Paris for a celebration.
But Brown circulated an email March 1 stating New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Whartson & Garrison was taking lead on the case.
Sources at the firm said a rift developed between the New York counsel and Miami counsel because Brown and Heller wanted to appeal class certification and Paul Weiss did not.
Brad Karp, the lead Paul Weiss partner on the case, did not respond to telephone calls and emails for comment by deadline.
Lewis said the decision to part ways with Citco was mutual. He said he wanted to retire to spend time with his young children. Heller retired last year.
"It was a mutual decision," he said. "I didn't want to spend so much time traveling to New York any more."
Attorneys and staff were called last Friday and informed the firm was closing. They were told to pick up their belongings and clean up their files for transfer Monday. That morning, Brown gave a speech thanking his employees some who had been with the firm for more than 20 years.
Both lawyers and staff may have trouble finding jobs in the shrinking legal market, said Abbe Bunt, a legal headhunter with Bunt Legal Search of Hollywood. She is urging employees to consider taking jobs in Broward or Palm Beach counties and consider pay cuts.