* Obama took a break from his vacation to sign the NDAA. But don’t worry, as long as he’s president, he’ll never indefinitely detain American citizens. Oh boy, we get a one-year guarantee. [New York Times]
- Biglaw, Ho-Love, Hogan & Hartson, Howrey LLP, Partner Issues, Quote of the Day, Thelen Reid & Priest, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner
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.)
- Airplanes / Aviation, Attorney Misconduct, Bankruptcy, Bernie Madoff, Howrey LLP, Law Schools, Legal Ethics, Morning Docket, Rod Blagojevich, Suicide
One of the most colorful characters in the saga of Howrey LLP, the once-thriving law firm that dissolved this past March, was Robert Ruyak, former chairman of the firm. How many law firm leaders write inspirational poetry for their summer associates?
Alas, many at Howrey found Ruyak’s leadership to be less than inspiring. He was frequently cast as the villain in the demise of the firm, which he led for over a decade before its dissolution. As noted by the WSJ Law Blog, Ruyak was criticized “[i]n some corners of the blogosphere” for “not respond[ing] swiftly enough to declines in the firm’s productivity” and “not sufficiently shar[ing] management responsibilities with his fellow partners.” According to the American Lawyer, he caused the firm to overexpand, taking on too much risk — in the form of lateral partners and contingency cases, among other things — when it should have been buckling down for tough times ahead.
Today brings news that Robert Ruyak has found a new professional home. Where’s he going?
* Howrey’s pre-Labor Day, everything must go, furniture sale. Don’t miss it. [Am Law Daily]
* CBS settles the case with two women suing Dr. Phil for unleashing a naked dinner guest on them for his show. I’m not sure if this is a case of two really uptight women or one really ugly dude, but I do know that alcohol would have solved this problem better than any counseling Dr. Phil could have provided. [Lowering the Bar]
* Obama is confident Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare? Did a justice die while I was away and nobody told me? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Do you think any of these new law firm models can use a thousand highly paid yet unskilled associates straight out of law school for a limited time until they go on to do actually interesting things with their lives? Oh, no reason, I was just asking. [Legal Blog Watch]
* This list of organizations who heavily contributed to members of the Deficit Super Committee includes Skadden. Actually, it looks like many lawyers are heavily invested with these politicians. [Maplight]
- Abortion, Crime, Death Penalty, Howrey LLP, In-House Counsel, Non-Sequiturs, Prisons, White-Collar Crime
* What? A former Supreme Court clerk who got passed over for a job at a law school? Nicholas Spaeth, who’s also the former state attorney general for North Dakota, is suing the Michigan State University College of Law, for age discrimination. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times via SBM Blog]
* An interesting profile of Alan Gura, the celebrated Second Amendment litigator, by a fellow small-firm lawyer, Nicole Black. [The Xemplar]
* Hopefully this will all become moot after a deal gets done, but remember the Fourteenth Amendment argument for Obama unilaterally raising the debt ceiling? Jeffrey Rosen thinks a lawsuit against Obama would get kicked for lack of standing — or might even prevail. [New Republic]
* But Orin Kerr believes that a recent SCOTUS case might change the analysis. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Howrey going to pay all the creditors? A lot turns on how some contingency-fee cases turn out, according to Larry Ribstein. [Truth on the Market]
* From in-house to the big house: former general counsel Russell Mackert just got sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for his role in a fraud scheme. [Corporate Counsel]
- Airplanes / Aviation, Bankruptcy, Fast Food, Food, Hair, Howrey LLP, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Non-Sequiturs
* I’m flying this weekend for the first time in over a year (it couldn’t be avoided). I’ll need to brush up on what rights I still retain during air travel. As long as I acknowledge TSA’s droit du seigneur to my wife, I’m allowed to carry an unopened water bottle on board, right? [Legal Blog Watch]
* There’s a statement from the University of Baltimore on the Phillip Closius situation. They say their “forward momentum” will continue. Does that mean they expect future Baltimore Law students to be unable to run a Google search? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Lat imagined a future legal career for Casey Anthony that starts with a Anthony getting a GED (before clerking on the Supreme Court and becoming a law partner of Jose Baez). But doesn’t Hustler seem like something more in her wheelhouse? [Gawker]
* Have we done irreparable damage to our credit rating, unless we can prove we have a legal “fail-safe” in case a vocal Tea Party minority hijacks the entire freaking nation again? [Blackbook Legal]
* Howrey going to massively reduce our assets for bankruptcy reporting purposes? [Chapter11Cases]
A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.
Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.
But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.
Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?
- Biglaw, Conferences / Symposia, Fenwick & West, Howrey LLP, Killing Lockstep, NALP, National Association for Law Placement (NALP)
The official title of the NALP conference panel that I attended on merit-based compensation contained a playful shout-out to Sarah Palin: “How Is That Performance-Based Compensation System Working for Ya?”
The panel was originally supposed to have featured a representative of the now-defunct Howrey law firm. So the snarky answer to the question presented might be, “Not well.” (In fairness to merit-based compensation, however, Howrey’s dissolution didn’t have much to do with its model for training, promoting, and compensating associates.)
No mention of Howrey was made during the introductory remarks (or anywhere else in the discussion, for that matter). Rather, the panel focused on the positive — and offered useful advice for firms that are contemplating adoption of performance-based systems….