Dissolution

Although it officially passed away back in March, when its partners voted for dissolution, the law firm of Howrey LLP continues to twitch in its grave — or maybe even step out of its grave and walk around a bit, like a zombie from a horror flick.

Howrey continues to have a presence on Twitter, for example. A D.C.-based reader pointed out to us that the April 2011 issue of Washington Lawyer magazine contained a partnership announcement for the firm, on page 44: “Stephen D. Palley and Andrew R. Sommer have been named partner at Howrey LLP.” (Both landed on their feet: Palley is now a principal at Ober|Kaler, and Sommer is now of counsel at Winston & Strawn.)

And, strangely enough, Howrey is still seeking client engagements….

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Although Howrey LLP officially dissolved as a partnership as of March 15, some operations continued beyond that date. But at the close of business today, the firm is going into a more complete shutdown, due to a withdrawal of bank financing.

“Last night, we received notice via email that Howrey is closing as of today, because CitiBank refuses to pay the payroll,” one source reported. “CitiBank has also refused to pay our PTO [paid time off], and our pension contributions.”

“Citibank has closed the door on Howrey operations today, more than a month before the May 9th date listed on WARN notices,” a second tipster confirmed. “No PTO, pensions will be paid out.”

UPDATE (6 PM): Citi takes issue with Howrey’s take on events. From a Citi spokesperson: “We are deeply disappointed in Howrey’s mischaracterization of the situation. Citi is not responsible for the employment practices of a client and has acted in a professional manner throughout this process.”

The full Howrey memo, after the jump.

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Firm shutting down today, after Citi pulls plug.

Tomorrow, March 15, the end will finally come for Howrey. Later this month, the law firm of David J. Stern, formerly known as Florida’s foreclosure king, will shut its doors.

This week, we’ve got another sizable law firm announcing its dissolution. Obviously not everybody is catching on to this economic recovery. While some firms are doling out the green, in the form of spring bonuses, other firms are handing out pink slips.

Today’s law firm obituary also comes from South Florida. Yes, we know, shocking that Florida is still suffering the effects of the recession. But there are another 280 people down there who will soon need to find new jobs….

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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.

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Yes. The voting started today at 11:30 AM (Eastern time) and remains underway, according to Am Law Daily. We will keep you posted, either by adding updates to this post or publishing a new post.

Meanwhile, the CEO (and poet laureate) of Howrey, Robert Ruyak, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal about the apparent downfall of his firm. As summarized by the WSJ Law Blog, Ruyak blamed Howrey’s troubles on a combination of (1) experiments with contingency fees and alternative fee arrangements, (2) impatient and risk-averse partners, and (3) discovery vendors.

Are you finding it hard to keep track of where all the Howrey partners are ending up? Join the club. Luckily, there’s a new resource out there that can help….

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We’re hearing reports — not yet confirmed, so please take them with the proverbial grain (or shaker) of salt — that Winston & Strawn has rescinded some or all of its offers to partners of Howrey.

The supposed catalyst for the collapse: antitrust star Sean Boland, who had been leading the talks on the Howrey side, pulling out of the deal. It has been rumored that he might take his team not to Winston but to Baker Botts (which has already absorbed other Howrey talent).

What we do know for certain is that the partner exodus from Howrey continues. Here is the latest confirmed news.

UPDATE: Various updates have been (and are still being) appended — after the jump….

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As we mentioned in our last story on the embattled Howrey law firm, the remaining partners will vote this week on whether to wind down the 55-year-old shop. According to Am Law Daily, that vote is set to take place on Wednesday.

For the past few weeks, Winston & Strawn has been waiting in the wings, hoping to help itself to Howrey’s healthiest parts. But as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many of the strongest partners and practice groups have already defected to other firms.

Let’s discuss the latest developments — and also learn the fate of current 3Ls holding offers from Howrey….

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Partners at the differently abled challenged Howrey law firm continue to leave the reservation in droves. Last night, Am Law Daily reported on the departure of antitrust litigatrix Roxann Henry. She’s joining Dewey & LeBoeuf, which has picked up a number of Howrey refugees (including Henry Bunsow, former vice-chairman of the firm).

What’s next for Howrey? According to Legal Week, the remaining partners plan to vote next week on whether to wind down the firm. (For a discussion of possible Howrey endgames, see Am Law Daily, which interviewed partnership law expert Robert Hillman, a professor at UC Davis.)

After the dissolution vote, Howrey can focus on talking to Winston & Strawn about which associates and staff Winston might want (as well as other assets, like the Howrey name). As previously discussed, a few weeks ago Winston made offers to about 75 percent of Howrey’s partners. It looks like about 35 percent of Howrey’s remaining partners have agreed to join Winston, and Legal Week reports that confirmation letters went out to them last weekend.

In our last post, we opened up a Howrey haiku contest. Let’s look at the winners….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Kemosabe: Rivals Claim More Scalps, As Dissolution Vote Looms (Plus the Howrey haiku contest winners.)

The spinning of the revolving door at the beleaguered Howrey law firm is making our heads spin here at Above the Law. Keeping track of all the partner departures is becoming quite the challenge. We’ve collected some links about the latest partner defections, after the jump.

At this rate, it’s not clear how many lawyers will be left for “rescue” by white knight Winston & Strawn. (Protip: check the armor for bedbugs.)

Here’s some new (but hardly surprising) information: Howrey has canceled its summer program. Yes, the famous Howrey Bootcamp, touted by the firm as “[f]ar more intense and rewarding than traditional summer associate programs,” and offering “an entirely unique approach to associate recruitment and training.”

Bootcamp participants received intensive litigation training — and inspirational poetry from firm CEO Robert Ruyak, which we share with you below….

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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….

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