Trendspotting, Wall Street

New Practice Groups Coming to a Firm Near You

wall street bull backside.jpgIt doesn’t always feel like it, but the legal profession is actually very recession proof. Deal work may be drying up, but the Good Book says “Whenever Hank Paulson closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

Of course, open windows are pretty dangerous if you work in a Manhattan skyscraper these days, but the National Law Journal peers through the looking glass anyway:

“A year ago we were writing deals, figuring out how to grow businesses and expand products; now the markets are trying to figure out when the next shoe drops,” said Michael Missal, head of the global financial markets group that K&L Gates unveiled on Monday in Washington.

Despite its neutral name, K&L cited the “global economic crisis” as the reason for launching the group.

It’s amazing what clients will pay for. Can you imagine being a Global Economic Crisis attorney and pitching your services to a client?

CLIENT: We’re broke. We can’t get any credit. I’m going to effing kill Nancy Pelosi and her Mr. Slave.

GEC Partner: Well our firm can offer you the latest counsel on how to navigate through these trying times.

CLIENT: Really? So, how do I get a line of credit right now?

GEC PARTNER: I don’t know.

CLIENT: Well, how can I get around this communist era short-selling ban so I can at least make some money on the side?

GEC PARTNER: I have no idea

CLIENT: Well, what can you tell me?

GEC PARTNER: Here we have this wonderful, interactive map. It clearly indicates where you are AND where Nancy Pelosi is at all times. We’ve marked out various firearms shops along the way.

CLIENT: Isn’t this from Grand Theft Auto IV?

GEC PARTNER: That’ll be $700 please.

Bracewell & Giuliani at least calls a spade a spade after the jump.

See if you can follow the logic of Pat Oxford, chairman of Bracewell & Giuliani, who is heading up the firm’s new “financial industry task force.”

“The firm’s perspective on what is happening has to come from as many angles as possible,” Oxford said, noting the ripples of collapsing financial institutions are already reaching Bracewell practice areas ranging from white-collar crime to banking, securities, transactional and many more.

“Anyone who says they know where this is going is full of baloney. We have never experienced anything like this in my lifetime and I am as old as anybody practicing these days,” said Oxford, 66. “The basic architecture of our banking regulatory scheme will change. There are hedge funds and private equity funds that, if you squint your eyes, look like investment banks. We suspect there will be a tsunami of regulation.”

Okay, so we can stipulate that “anyone who says they know where this is going is full of baloney.” So why exactly would anyone pay for lawyers to tell them that nobody knows what is going on?

After the “tsunami of regulation” hits, there should be all kinds of new and interesting legal work to do. But before the tsunami the only thing to do is to get to high ground. Well, apparently nobody has a clue about where high ground is. This is like hiring a Sherpa to help you climb Mount “Invisible.” It sounds like a great idea until you stop and think.

But hey, if you can get terrified clients to pay you for “waiting to see what will happen,” why not? Lawyers gotta eat too.

Firms scramble to launch credit crisis practice groups [National Law Journal]

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