Biglaw, Blogging, Heller Ehrman, Howrey LLP, Law Firm Mergers, Partner Issues

Howrey Going to Get Out of This Pickle?

When we last wrote about goings-on at Howrey, the once-strong law firm that’s now experiencing troubled times, we mentioned the possibility of partner losses in the Chicago office. The firm pushed back on this, denying knowledge of any imminent defections in the Windy City.

It now seems, however, that additional partner departures may be on the horizon — in Chicago, and elsewhere too. As reported in Crain’s Chicago Business (via WSJ Law Blog), the Chi-town powerhouse of Winston & Strawn recently discussed a possible merger with Howrey — but then decided against that approach, opting instead to pick off specific groups and partners from Howrey.

The Howrey situation is starting to look a lot like what happened to Heller Ehrman. A well-respected firm with a widely admired culture encounters business difficulties. Key partners and groups (especially IP) start leaving for greener pastures or more stable platforms. A potential white knight emerges — Mayer Brown in Heller’s case, and Winston & Strawn in Howrey’s — but then decides to order a la carte from the menu of partners, practices and offices, instead of going for the chef’s tasting menu.

A distressed employee of the firm sets up a blog to serve as a clearinghouse for updates. Heller had Heller Highwater, and Howrey had Howrey Doin’.

But now it looks like Howrey Doin’ is… done. If you surf over to, the blog’s former address, you learn that “[t]he authors have deleted this blog.”

What the heck happened? We have a statement from the author of the blog, as well as a response from the firm.

Here’s the statement we received this morning from the person behind Howrey Doin’ (great name, by the way — I have a limitless appetite for Howrey puns):

I am the author of the Howrey Doin’ blog, which has been very popular.

I wanted to inform you, in case you get people asking you, that yes, I deleted the blog early this morning. Two reasons:

1. Overnight, I received two separate threats to do serious harm to me and my family (look away if you are easily unsettled–it involved raping my children, raping me, killing all of us, etc.). It’s not worth the risk, even if it’s just idle threats from your average internet psycho.

2. I have been informed by several sources that Howrey has hired a private investigator to find me. The odds of them finding me are slim since I never used Howrey equipment or resources to do my blog, but in the event that they do determine my identity, I can’t risk one of the psychos from point no. 1 finding out. Or that someone from Howrey is one of the psychos from point no. 1, which is really horrifying to think about, but must be considered.

So, Howrey wins, I suppose. No more Howrey Doin’ blog. Instead, I’ll just be forwarding all the information I receive to the legitimate journalists who have reached out to me regarding my blog. Problem solved, everyone’s happy now.

We reached out to Howrey for comment. A spokesperson told us: “We have had nothing to do with the blog at all.”

We’re continuing to monitor Howrey-related developments, which are breaking fast and furious. For example, out on the West Coast, the Irvine office of Howrey has been or will be losing several heavy hitters. Other outposts, including San Francisco, may see defections as well. For more, see the Recorder and the Daily Journal (subscription).

Rival firms are circling like vultures — and legal recruiters are also trying to take advantage of the situation. In fact, it has been like this for several months now.

“At our firm we have been getting many phone calls from head hunters since last November about partners looking to leave Howrey,” an IP partner in the New York office of a large law firm told ATL. “You know head hunters, no names, but supposedly these are partners with sizable portables. For us, mainly New York and Chicago.”

We’ve collected recent coverage at the end of this post. If you have additional information about Howrey, please email us or text us (646-820-TIPS, or 646-820-8477). Thanks.

Winston & Strawn talks merger with Howrey, but opts for hiring away attorneys [Crain’s Chicago Business]
Rejecting Possible Merger, Winston & Strawn Now Seeks to Recruit Howrey Lawyers, Crain’s Says [ABA Journal]
Report: Winston & Strawn, Howrey Talk (and Reject) Merging Forces [WSJ Law Blog]
As Howrey Profits Plummet, Partner Says ‘We’ll Take a Torpedo or Two’ But Likely Won’t Sink [ABA Journal]
Do Flurry of Defections Signal Sunset for BigLaw Firm in the West? [The Recorder via ABA Journal]
More Howrey Defections Could Be Coming [Daily Journal (subscription)]
Another Major Rainmaker Is Expected to Depart Howrey [Daily Journal (subscription)]

Earlier: Howrey Going To Fix This? (Partner Defections, Office Closings — Not Good.)
Prior ATL coverage of Howrey

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