We’ve spent the day collecting our Thelen rumors. This morning The Recorder reported that Thelen chairman Stephen O’Neal has been in talks to move to the D.C. firm Howrey. Apparently, he’s poised to take 30 attorneys with him.
The firm is set to hold an all partner meeting on Tuesday to discuss their options:
A much anticipated all-partner meeting is being held Tuesday, according to a Thelen partner, although the agenda hasn’t been made available to rank-and-file partners. The meeting had been set for last Thursday, but was rescheduled at the last minute.
“It’s certainly clear to us as industry observers that Thelen has reached a tipping point,” said William Nason, a recruiter with San Diego-based Watanabe Nason Schwartz & Lippman. “It’s amazing to us how quickly firms dissolve when they get to that point.”
Distinguishing Thelen from other dissolution targets after the jump.
Having just been through this with Heller, let’s take a moment to point out the possible distinctions between Heller and Thelen.
Most importantly, as far as we know, the bank has not pulled Thelen’s line of credit. Once banks reined in Heller, dissolution was the only option. You’ll remember that Heller lost it’s lucrative IP practice before the banks stopped Heller’s credit line.
As of now, O’Neal can talk to Howrey all he wants. So long as he stays, Thelen has time to parcel out each practice group, piece-by-piece to interested firms.
Thelen spokespeople declined to comment about their long term plan.
But multiple tipsters told us that Thelen has been actively shopping individual practice groups. Nixon, Pillsbury, Reed Smith, and Howrey have all been reported to be interested in various parts of Thelen.
If they are able to accomplish this, we understand that some associates will be taken along. When Heller broke up, many associates were left out in the cold.
The most important question for Thelen associates is whether Thelen can sell-off all of their practice groups before the bank pulls their line of credit. If they can, we’re hoping that many Thelen attorneys will be placed with new firms. If they can’t, we’re looking at Heller II.
Tuesday’s partner meeting should be very interesting. If Thelen does have to dissolve, and it wants to dissolve before the new year, the WARN notice needs to go out this week.
Earlier: Thelen Associates: English M*therF%$#*r Do You Speak It?