This week has been fairly quiet in terms of news about the troubled Howrey law firm. A post over at the Howrey Doody Time blog — with a brilliant punny title (wish I had thought of it myself) — describes the current state of affairs as “a painful holding pattern.”
Well, this morning we do have some Howrey news to report. Above the Law has learned that IP partner Mark Whitaker is leaving the D.C. office of Howrey, his professional home for the past decade or so, to join Baker Botts.
“He’s going to Baker Botts to be the 337 guy,” said a source, referring to Section 337 (19 U.S.C. § 1337), which governs fast-track intellectual property litigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC). “He has a very nice stable of clients he has developed independent of Howrey.”
The hiring of Mark Whitaker — described to us as a “great, great guy,” as well as a former Navy officer (like fellow Howrey partner Richard Beckler) — is a nice coup for Baker Botts, since § 337 expertise is an in-demand area. And luckily for Whitaker, the move won’t mess with his commute: both Howrey and Baker are in the Warner Building, at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We understand that Whitaker was part of the group of Howrey partners invited to join Winston & Strawn, but he had other plans underway when the Winston talks were announced. His departure from Howrey comes just a few days after WilmerHale’s announcement that it was picking up another noted Howrey IP litigator, Robert Galvin (in Palo Alto).
So that’s the latest Howrey partner news. What’s going on with associates and staff?
Alas, we don’t know much more since the last time we checked in. The Monday conference call with associates was brief, under 20 minutes, and unenlightening. The Tuesday call with staff, which took place around 11 a.m., was similarly uneventful. Law students with offers from Howrey have been told by email that it’s business as usual — i.e., “that as of now, nothing has changed.”
It seems that Robert Ruyak and the rest of the Howrey leadership are holding their cards very close to their vests. And that’s completely understandable, given how complex and fluid the situation is right now.
Speaking of Ruyak, Kim Eisler reports that Ruyak isn’t fully in charge these days, even if he’s still the firm’s public face. According to Eisler, Ruyak “has ceded power and authority to an insurrectionist band that is now calling the shots behind the scenes.” You can read the rest of his post, which also mentions the possibility of Howrey partners losing their capital contributions to the firm (about $333,000 for a million-dollar partner), over here.
If you have any news or rumor to pass along about Howrey, please feel free to email us or text us (646-820-TIPS). As always, we keep our sources confidential (unless they request otherwise).
P.S. If you now have a bad case of earworm involving Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It (1995), I say: you’re welcome.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Howrey