He was clearly the salesman-in-chief, and he did a darn good job at it. I remember being told that despite the fact that the economy was essentially collapsing around everyone’s heads, 2008 was going to come in well over budget with record revenues and profits.
— Andrew Ness, former managing partner of the D.C. office of Thelen LLP, commenting to Washingtonian magazine about former Howrey chairman Robert Ruyak, the poetry-writing power lawyer who lured Ness and his Thelen colleagues over to Howrey.
(Ness is now a Jones Day partner.)
(Additional excerpts from and discussion of Marisa Kashino’s interesting article, A Tale of Two Law Firms: Hogan & Hartson and Howrey, after the jump.)
Here’s how Kashino’s article opens:
At the dawn of the 21st century, Hogan & Hartson and Howrey Simon Arnold & White—later shortened to Howrey—were among Washington’s biggest and most profitable law firms. They were located less than a block apart near DC’s Metro Center. Each employed hundreds of lawyers who made well into the six figures—and rainmakers at both firms took home more than a million dollars annually.
It took just a decade to transform both of them—a decade filled with fateful decisions, new leaders, and contrasting cultures as both firms attempted to adjust to the emerging 21st-century realities of the legal profession.
Only one of them survived.
Howrey going to figure out which one made it? Hint: it’s the firm that didn’t have all its stuff auctioned off.
One major theme of the piece is the importance of leadership. Robert Ruyak — who landed safely at Winston & Strawn, by the way — comes in for a fair amount of criticism. Former colleagues told Washingtonian that although Ruyak “looked the part…. like a managing partner out of central casting,” he lacked “a solid understanding of the business of the firm.”
Kashino contrasts Ruyak with Warren Gorrell, the former head of Hogan & Hartson who now serves as co-CEO of Hogan Lovells. Gorrell, a major corporate rainmaker before he entered the ranks of leadership, wins praise for his vision, people skills, and plain old hard work. As Hogan partner Janet McDavid noted to the magazine, “I don’t think Warren needs as much sleep as most of us.”
These are just highlights. To read the full piece, a case study of two major D.C. law firms at the start of the 21st century, click on the link below.