Biglaw, Dissolution, Howrey LLP, Partner Issues

Howrey Going to Bring This to a Close?

The Howrey saga rolls on. The story has been interesting to cover, since it involves some colorful characters and illustrates a number of trends that are reshaping the large-law-firm landscape (as noted in the recent Washington Post piece on Howrey). But at a certain point, we’re just going to want some closure on this story.

Well, a conclusion may be close at hand. The contours of an absorption of Howrey by Winston & Strawn are starting to become more clear.

Let’s take a look at what’s on the table….

Here’s what was reported by The Recorder on Friday evening:

A big weekend is looming in the Howrey-Winston saga.

This week, Winston management agreed on a proposed term sheet for bringing aboard Howrey attorneys, sources close to the situation confirmed. Enough Howrey partners have indicated interest in joining for the deal to move one step closer to completion, lawyers said. Winston held a partner meeting today to discuss the terms ahead of a partnership vote, which was expected to begin as early as today and possibly last through the weekend.

(As you may recall, the offers made by Winston to three-quarters of Howrey’s partners were contingent on a sufficient number of partners accepting, to prevent Winston from getting too many service partners and not enough rainmakers.)

Former Howrey lawyers say that Winston is likely to get most of the Houston office and parts of the antitrust group in D.C. The exact fate of the California offices remains more vague, but a former Howrey lawyer in California said prospective tenants have toured the San Francisco office and that there’s been interest in the Palo Alto office as well.

The next few days appear to be crucial for the deal. One issue that’s in play is the matter of the prestigious Howrey name. A former Howrey lawyer in California said Winston might pay $2 million or more for the Howrey moniker. The goal had been to name the new firm Winston Howrey, the lawyer said.

No offense to Howrey, which at its peak had (and still has) many fine lawyers, but at this point I’m not sure how valuable the firm name is. For months now, “Howrey” has been synonymous with poor management and slow (or not-so-slow) bleeding of partners. Why not just be absorbed completely into Winston & Strawn, and let “Howrey” fade into memory?

(For more thoughts on the value of the Howrey name, see Larry Ribstein.)

Meanwhile, other pieces of Howrey are also on the auction block, per the Recorder:

Howrey is also trying to capitalize on its in-house team of economic analysts who study the viability of IP, antitrust and complext litigation cases. The firm’s management has tried to sell the CapAnalysis capability for about $6 million, another former Howrey lawyer said.

Over at Shark Tank Legal, Kim Eisler has additional updates on Howrey. The highlights:

  • Howrey is leasing out and/or cleaning out significant portions of its D.C. offices.
  • “[P]artner Roger Klein, who has served as the firm’s general counsel, had decided not to participate in the firm’s unwinding, as had originally been planned. Sources indicated that Klein, [firm chairman Robert] Ruyak, and the new managers at Winston & Strawn could not come to an agreement about Klein’s post wind-down future at Winston, and Klein has decided to seek a position with a new firm.”
  • “[M]any firm associates will receive letters from Winston early this week — most likely Monday — informing them that they will have a job with Winston & Strawn. According to the proposed timetable, a large contingent of Howrey’s support staff and some left-behind associates will be informed by Howrey’s current management on Wednesday as to their status and when they must vacate the building. Much of Howrey’s accounting and IT functions will be shifted to Winston….”

You can read Eisler’s full post, which has additional fun tidbits (which major motion picture was filmed in Howrey’s posh D.C. offices?), over here.

If you have additional Howrey info, please email us, subject line “Howrey,” or text us (646-820-TIPS).

Winston, Howrey One Step Nearer to Deal [Legal Pad / The Recorder]
Winston Tastes Good (To Howrey)… Like a Law Firm Should? [Shark Tank Legal]
What’s in the Howrey name? [Truth on the Market]
Slowly, a Howrey Resolution Starts to Come into Focus [WSJ Law Blog]
After rapid growth, Washington law firm Howrey fights for survival [Washington Post]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Howrey

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