The partners of the law firm of Howrey LLP, founded in 1956, have voted to dissolve the existing Howrey partnership. The dissolution will take effect on March 15, 2011, according to a press release that was issued earlier tonight by the firm.

The firm’s chairman and CEO, Robert Ruyak, has not been the most popular person during Howrey’s long and painful disintegration (which arguably started over a year ago, with some key partner defections). But few would disagree with the statements he made this evening.

“This is a very difficult time for our firm, for our attorneys and for our staff,” Ruyak said. “Many of us have spent our entire legal careers at Howrey and remain proud of what we built. We find some solace in the fact that our people have been so well received by their new firms. They are first class professionals and deserve the respect accorded to leaders in their fields.”

We extend our sympathies to everyone at Howrey who will be affected by the firm’s demise, and we wish them the best of luck as they search for new workplaces. Many superb lawyers and staff have worked at Howrey over the past 55 years, and as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many are being courted and welcomed by other law firms — a testament to their talents and abilities.

Additional commentary and links, as well as the full press release, appear below.

Yesterday we mentioned a rumor that Winston & Strawn, which had been courting many Howrey partners, had withdrawn its offers to some or all of the partners in question. It now appears that this rumor was correct. According to sources of It’s Howrey Doody Time, which has tracked Howrey developments very closely over the past few weeks, Winston rescinded the offers it made to all many Howrey partners in Washington, D.C.

UPDATE (9/12/11): In the end, a small number of Howrey D.C. partners — some IP partners, and former chairman Robert Ruyak — wound up at Winston.

Winston will be picking up Howrey partners from the Houston office — which, as we previously discussed, had rapidly become the apple of Uncle Winston’s eye. As this evening’s Howrey press release explains, “A group of partners, associates and staff, mostly from the firm’s Houston office, will join Winston and Strawn; however, many others were unable to do so because of significant client conflicts. Those partners will be joining other AmLaw 100 firms.”

The Howrey press release adds that a committee of partners will oversee the orderly wind-down of the firm’s affairs. According to Am Law Daily, Howrey will be advised in its wind-down efforts by none other than Latham & Watkins. This makes perfect sense: if you’re going to be Lathaming your employees, who better to advise you than Latham?

(In all seriousness, it is very logical that Howrey has retained Latham for this assignment. The lead Latham partner on the project, restructuring and bankruptcy partner Peter Gilhuly, is an expert in law firm dissolution, having previously advised on the dissolutions of Thelen, which ended up sending many lawyers to Howrey; Darby & Darby; and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.)

We cannot resist indulging in one final Howrey pun: Howrey going to WARN employees of dissolution?

Promptly. Here’s the text of the Howrey WARN notice (via Howrey Doody Time):

Dear Colleagues,

As discussed in the meeting held earlier today, attached is a letter which provides 60 days notice of your termination from Howrey, due to the cessation of the firm’s business operations and closure of your office. This letter is being sent in compliance with applicable Federal and/or State Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (“WARN”) Act(s), and will also be sent to your residence via overnight delivery from Federal Express tomorrow.

Howrey sincerely appreciates the contributions you have made during your tenure at the firm, and wishes you success in your career pursuits.

(A second Howrey press release from this evening, regarding WARN notices, has also been reprinted below.)

Once again, we extend our condolences to all the attorneys and staffers who will lose their jobs as a result of the Howrey dissolution. We hope that you find new and fulfilling professional homes in the very near future.

Howrey Votes to Dissolve Effective March 15 [Am Law Daily]
It’s Over: Howrey Closes Its Doors May 9, 2011 [It's Howrey Doody Time]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Howrey LLP


HOWREY PARTNERSHIP PLANS TO DISSOLVE AND WIND DOWN OPERATIONS; WARN NOTICES ISSUED TO STAFF

Washington, DC, March 9, 2011 – The Executive Committee of Howrey LLP has announced that, pursuant to a vote by the firm’s partnership, it will dissolve the existing Howrey partnership, effective March 15, and commence an orderly wind down of its affairs.

“The firm had experienced disappointing financial performance over the past two years and subsequently several partners had resigned,” according to Bob Ruyak, the firm’s Chairman and CEO. “This resulted in the conclusion that an orderly wind down of the firm’s activities over time was the only practical alternative.”

A group of partners, associates and staff, mostly from the firm’s Houston office, will join Winston and Strawn; however, many others were unable to do so because of significant client conflicts. Those partners will be joining other AmLaw 100 firms.

“This is a very difficult time for our firm, for our attorneys and for our staff,’’ Ruyak said. “Many of us have spent our entire legal careers at Howrey and remain proud of what we built. We find some solace in the fact that our people have been so well received by their new firms. They are first class professionals and deserve the respect accorded to leaders in their fields.”

As required by the Howrey partnership agreement, a committee of partners has been formed to oversee an orderly wind-down of the firm over time.

Additionally, a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letter will be sent to certain employees today, in compliance with federal and applicable state laws that require some employers to give advance notice of significant layoffs to their employees and others. These layoff notice requirements are intended to protect employees, their families, and communities by giving employees a transition period in which they can adjust to losing their jobs, obtain other work, or pursue training for other work.

*****

Founded in 1956, Howrey LLP, a global law firm with offices throughout the United States and in Europe, has focused on three practice areas of law- antitrust, intellectual property and global litigation. For background information on the firm, please visit www.howrey.com.


HOWREY ISSUES “WARN” NOTICES TO STAFF

Washington, DC, March 9, 2011 – Howrey LLP has announced that a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letter will be sent to certain employees today, in compliance with applicable federal and state laws that requires some employers to give advance notice of significant layoffs to the employees and others.

According to the Department of Labor website, “the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.

Advance notice gives workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other jobs, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to compete successfully in the job market.

Generally, WARN covers employers with 100 or more employees, not counting those who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months and those who work an average of less than 20 hours a week.

Employees entitled to advance notice under WARN include managers and supervisors as well as hourly and salaried workers.

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) administers WARN at the federal level, and some states have plant closure laws of their own. A State Dislocated Worker Unit Coordinator can provide more information on notice requirements in a specific area.

DOL has no enforcement role in seeking damages for workers who did not receive adequate notice of a layoff or received no notice at all. However, they can assist workers in finding a new job or learning about training opportunities that are available.”


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