We mentioned that litigation boutiques would likely be big winners from the market collapse. Some small firms are already cashing in. The bankruptcy boutique of Luskin, Stern & Eisler has merged with Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
There was enough room on the Hughes Hubbard bandwagon for everybody at Luskin. All eight lawyers will be joining Hughes Hubbard’s bankruptcy practice, with name partner Richard Stern becoming the co-chair of the group.
The merger makes perfect sense if Hughes Hubbard is trying to position itself to capitalize on creditor actions coming out of the Wall Street meltdown. Of course, that is not what Hughes Hubbard says they are doing:
Hughes Hubbard says it is merely a coincidence that the deal was finalized after a week of heavy financial turmoil.
“We had wanted to do this for a while,” James Modlin, co-chair of the firm’s lateral hiring committee, tells The Am Law Daily. “Starting last summer, we realized the time was right to bolster our bankruptcy practice. Bankruptcy goes in cycles, and we were thinking this might be a boom time.”
Maybe Hughes Hubbard does own the world’s best Magic 8 Ball. However they planned this acquisition, they got the execution exactly right.
Here is yet another rumor — somewhat better sourced than the Thacher Proffitt / King & Spalding rumor, but a rumor nonetheless — about a possible law firm merger.
Word on the street is that Seyfarth Shaw is seeking a merger partner. This should not come as a shock, since Seyfarth has been stumbling a bit due to the downturn. As previously reported, the firm has pushed back start dates and trimmed its lawyer ranks.
The Seyfarth partnership recently returned from its retreat, where strategic opportunities were discussed. The scuttlebutt is that the firm is in “serious” merger talks with another firm of roughly equal size. Upon information and belief, that firm is Squire Sanders.
Both firms hover around the 800-attorney mark. The product of their merger — nicknamed “S4″ by one tipster, standing for either “Seyfarth Shaw Squire Sanders” or “Squire Sanders Seyfarth Shaw” — would be a 1600-lawyer behemoth. The combination would give Seyfarth a coveted foothold in Bratislava.
Associate meetings were held in all Seyfarth Shaw offices earlier this afternoon. Associates were briefed on the retreat and told about ongoing merger talks with another firm. Details are scarce; the confidential nature of the merger talks was stressed to the associates “about a dozen times.”
Whether these talks will bear fruit is anyone’s guess. Lately law-firm merger talks have been falling at a high rate.
We’ll keep you posted. If you have any info to share, please email us. Thanks.
This is just a rumor, so take it with a grain — nay, a shaker — of salt. But we hear that Thacher Proffitt & Wood — which has been badly bloodied by the mortgage meltdown and Wall Street crisis, and has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs — is in “serious” merger discussions with King & Spalding.
The idea that TPW might be seeking a white knight shouldn’t be that surprising. Back in July, Thacher’s managing partner, Paul Tvetenstrand, had to deny rumors that the firm was headed for dissolution.
In his email, Tvetenstrand acknowledged that “[l]ike many firms in this unusual market we have had to take steps to adjust to the credit crisis.” One such step, of course, is to take refuge in the arms of someone who’s weathering the storm better. See, e.g., Merrill Lynch / Bank of America.
We reached out to both firms for comment. TPW didn’t get back to us. Kimberly Brooks, public relations manager of King & Spalding, had this comment:
It is our responsibility as a law firm to offer clients the highest level of service possible. As such, King & Spalding regularly explores opportunities that might provide for additional expertise and accessibility.
As a matter of policy, we do not comment on rumors in the market.
So they won’t comment on “rumors in the market” — but maybe some of you would like to? If you have additional insight into this rumor — it’s true, it’s false, it’s somewhere in between — feel free to email us. Thanks.
Bingham McCutchen plans to announce on Monday that four D.C. attorneys from Thelen are moving over: Partner Carl Valenstein — recently listed on Thelen’s Web site as a member of the firm’s partnership council — as well as partners Jerome Akman and David Vidal-Cordero, and senior counsel Rebecca Hartley.
I don’t know who any of those people are, but it’s safe to assume that the laws of “subtraction” still apply to Thelen. It’s not like Nixon (or anybody else) is going to merge with the Thelen associates. A book of business is very different from an active Facebook page.
At least Thelen is trying to get the word out that not all of their partners are up for sale:
Two Thelen partners made a point of showing solidarity with their firm Thursday afternoon.
[Michael] Hallerud said that he’s been with Thelen for more than 13 years and has “no interest in going anywhere,” adding that the San Francisco office is “a family place.”
Another partner, [John] Heisse, replied in an e-mail: “As I have told what seems to be every headhunter in the continental U.S., I have no intention of taking my practice to any other firm. If your article has the effect of stopping their calls, then I appreciate your help.”
It’s awesome that Mr. Heisse is in such great demand. But wouldn’t it be nice if he put in a good word for whatever mid-level has been doing his dirty work for the past few years? Something like:
Hey Mr. Recruiter for a firm with much more stable financials. I’m sticking with the date I came with, but you might want to call up Tippy Highflower whose a 6th year in our San Fran office. She’s great and a future star, and based on the bottle of Zoloft I just saw her eating for lunch, I bet she could use some reassurance about her future prospects.
Associates need lifeboats too. Sometimes just knowing that you have one can help you weather the storm.
As you are aware, the firm has been exploring the possibility of a merger with Heller Ehrman. After careful consideration, we have decided not to pursue that course.
Heller Ehrman is a fine firm with outstanding lawyers. Like us, they have a long heritage of excellence in their work and service to clients. A merger with them would have offered potential benefits for both firms and our clients. In the end, however, various issues, including client and practice conflicts, could not be resolved, and we have ended our discussions.
A couple of tipsters have let us know that Covington & Burling has scheduled a firmwide meeting tomorrow.
We don’t think they’re going to announce a merger (because no suitable partner comes to mind). We have it on good authority that they’re not announcing layoffs (or anything else negative).
So what gives? Why does a firm pull all of their associates and counsel into a room? Did they just buy a coat factory?
Let the rampant speculation begin in the comments. We’ll update with actual facts as soon as we receive them. Update: The actual facts appear here.
Too many tipsters to count have alerted us that Thelen appears to have canceled their 2009 summer associate program. People who had scheduled call backs with Thelen were informed this afternoon. As we understand it, this is a firm-wide decision affecting every office. We also believe Thelen has canceled all remaining OCI interviews.
A few tipsters reported that the stated reasons from Thelen were communicated over the phone. They told aspiring summers that their budget overview and ongoing merger talks prevented an accurate assessment of their future hiring needs.
The firm could not be reached for comment. We will update you as soon as the firm updates us.
If true, this information doesn’t really come as a surprise. Thelen has been rumored to be on the merger market for quite some time. The most recent suitor was Nixon Peabody, but there have been rumors of others.
At this point, canceling the entire summer program in preparation for a big-time merger is the best possible reason, right? We’ll keep you posted. Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Nixon Peabody + Thelen = Nixlen Thelpea? Law Firm Merger Mania: Thelen Sending Out Feelers?
Fans of Sex and the City will recall the famous episode in which Carrie was dumped via post-it note. If law firm mergers are like relationships, here’s a tale that seems as classy as breaking up by post-it. [FN1]
The New York office of Gunderson Dettmer was all set to move, en masse, to Cooley Godward. The 30 or so Gunderson attorneys had new, Cooley-issued Blackberries and laptops, with new email accounts and software already set up. They were set to start this past Tuesday.
On the Friday before Labor Day, the main partner in Gunderson’s NYC office simply called to let the Cooley crew know the move was off. This was not taken well by Cooley, since this had been considered a done deal for some time. The Gunderson lead partner did not even bother to call the CEO of Cooley, but instead called a relatively junior partner to break the news.
“Cooley is really pissed,” according to our tipster, “but they are moving forward.” Just like a jilted lover, Cooley seems to take the view that doing well is the best revenge: “They happen to be about to open a new office in a strategic location in the U.S., with a big bang, and with double-digit numbers of lateral partners as part of the potential deal.”
There is a body of law that governs who keeps the engagement ring when a wedding is called off. Could it be applied by analogy to those Cooley-issued BlackBerries and laptops?
Gunderson did not respond to our requests for comment. We reached out to Cooley, which declined to comment through a spokesperson.
[FN1] We adore post-its, and we love those little colored flags even more; but they can’t be used for everything.
Thelen and Nixon Peabody are in merger talks, with a possible agreement pending, according to sources close to the situation. The law firms have been in extensive talks, with Nixon Peabody leaders traveling to San Francisco to meet with Thelen leaders, according to two sources.
To paraphrase Austin Powers, Heller Ehrman is getting to “town bicycle” status. The latest firm to take a ride through Heller’s financials: Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw.
According to Am Law Daily, citing sources close to both Heller and Mayer Brown, Heller is “aggressively” pursuing other merger options, with Mayer Brown looking like the most promising match. They add:
The current talks between Mayer Brown and Heller, which began days after Heller’s talks with Baker & McKenzie ended, actually represent a second effort to combine the firms.
Before anybody starts requesting new business cards, it must be noted that Heller merger rumors tend to be as bankable as that Nigerian guy who needs your account number. In the past few months, Heller has been linked to Winston & Strawn, Proskauer Rose, and Baker & McKenzie. Given that a Heller/Mayer Brown merger has fallen through before, this latest rumor could be more about smoke screen than actual fire.
Just last week, Heller announced that it was postponing start dates until after Martin Luther King Day. We’ll keep you updated on Heller’s continuing efforts to be saved. Heller Ehrman, Mayer Brown In Merger Talks [Am Law Daily]
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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