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….
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.
A report surfaced yesterday claiming that Howrey has now more or less given itself an end date: March 1, according to the report on Shark Tank Legal.
Partners who have received offers to join Winston & Strawn are expected to accept them by March 1st. After that, Howrey will be in full dissolution mode.
Even Howrey people must want this thing to just be over already. But before the end, we could see more ugliness, like segregated floors to keep the partners with safe landing spots safe from their desperate colleagues…
Yesterday we passed along a rumor that Barbara Werther and some of her colleagues in government contracts were leaving Howrey. We have since received additional confirmation of this report. According to one source, Werther informed Howrey partners of her departure on Thursday, and her office was cleaned out on Friday.
As we previously mentioned, a meeting with associates and firm chairman Robert Ruyak was also scheduled for yesterday. What happened on that conference call?
Accept your offers. It’s wise advice for 2Ls going through fall recruiting, and it’s wise advice for partners of the rapidly unraveling Howrey law firm, most of whom have offers to join Winston & Strawn. Last weekend, Winston made offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners, with responses requested in 21 days.
Yesterday we mentioned that a Howrey partnership conference call took place on Tuesday. During that meeting, firm chairman Robert Ruyak and Winston & Strawn managing partner Thomas Fitzgerald apparently urged Howrey partners with Winston offers to accept them as soon as possible, according to The Recorder.
Many Howrey partners have already left for other firms, as chronicled in these pages. A group of eleven attorneys recently departed for Morgan Lewis, for example.
Of the 200 to 230 Howrey partners who remain, how many are likely to go with Winston?
In our last story on the trials and tribulations of Howrey, we expressed doubt that a full-on merger between Howrey and Winston & Strawn would take place. We suggested that Winston would probably wind up “picking up large chunks of Howrey, maybe even entire offices — just like Sonnenschein picked up 100 lawyers from Thacher Proffitt, during TPW’s final days.”
And that appears to be what’s happening now. According to The Recorder, Winston extended individual offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners over the weekend.
And what about the remaining 25 percent? A recruiter familiar with the situation told The Recorder that they either have conflicts issues or aren’t interested in winding up at Winston.
Way back in 2008, back when people were wondering just how bad the recession was going to be for Biglaw, Heller Ehrman collapsed. When the firm dissolved, there was a lot of fear that it would be the first of many to fold.
While a few other firms also dissolved during the recession, we didn’t have an epidemic of dissolution across Biglaw. At the end of the day, it looks like only the firms under horrendous management paid the ultimate price.
Of course, many of the people who managed these firms into the ground landed on their feet and found new, high-paying legal jobs. Many of the associates and staff didn’t fare as well. Try getting a job in this economy when you are an associate with no experience who has already been laid off. In the immortal words of Akin Gump partner Steven Pesner, “the job market is not so good right now, in case you did not know.”
Given all that these people have been through, it’s nice to be able to report on a victory for two would-be Heller associates. Heller pushed back their start date and offered them a deferral stipend. Then the firm folded, and Heller never paid out that stipend.
Now, two years later, a California court has ruled that these two members of the Lost Generation should have been given priority when Heller came apart…
Darby & Darby, an intellectual property boutique with a strong presence in New York and Seattle is going under. Last night, tipsters reported serious trouble for the firm that has been around since 1895. Multiple sources put the news in similar, explicit language:
Darby & Darby is shutting down, [Friday].
This morning, Darby & Darby released an official statement:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that after more than 100 years in continuous operation, Darby & Darby will begin the process of winding down the firm in anticipation of an orderly dissolution. While we continue to have exceptional clients, from individual inventors to Fortune Global 500 Companies, and remain profitable, many of the factors frequently cited in other firm’s demise have similarly impacted us. That said, we believe strongly in the IP boutique model which continues to produce some of the best legal talent in the Intellectual Property field. We will be working with all of our amazing and loyal professionals and staff to help them find new homes and know they will be very successful wherever they land.
Tipsters report that the news has been running all over the firm’s New York and Seattle offices since last night. And they are telling stories of partners in the know “looting” the firm and aggressively looking for other work…
Since it has been so long since Heller Ehrman collapsed, it’s easy to forget that the firm’s dissolution continues to affect so many. Today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the owners of the building that housed Heller will now have to forfeit that property:
The owners of a premier San Francisco office tower plan to forfeit the property to their lenders, the city’s second distressed transaction involving a major commercial building in recent weeks and another sign of the growing pressures in the sector.
Hines and Sterling American Property decided to transfer their interest in 333 Bush St. to the original financers, following the surprise dissolution of law firm Heller Ehrman in September, according to a letter Hines sent to local real estate brokers and obtained by The Chronicle. The 118-year-old law firm defaulted on its 250,000-square-foot lease, leaving the nearly 550,000-square-foot property 65 percent vacant.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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