Law Firm Mergers

Oyez, oyez, oyez! It’s the first week of October.

* Say what you will about Justice Scalia, but the man is hilarious — more funny than his four liberal colleagues combined, according to a statistical analysis of oral argument recordings. [New York Times]

* The government shutdown is slowing down the judicial confirmation process, already famous for its speed and efficiency. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* More about news for Steven Donziger in his long-running battle with Chevron. Maybe it’s time to surrender, Steve? I hear Ecuador is a great place to retire. [New York Law Journal]

* Law firm merger mania continues, as Carlton Fields combines with Jorden Burt. [Carlton Fields (press release)]

* Herbert Smith Freehills says “you’re hired” to Scott Balber, the lawyer for Donald Trump who got mocked by Bill Maher on national television. [The Lawyer]

* You might see your dog as harmless and cuddly, but the law might see your dog as a weapon (and rightfully so, in my opinion). [New York Times via ABA Journal]

* Congratulations to all the winners of the FT’s Innovative Lawyers awards. [Financial Times]

* And congratulations to Heidi Wendel and Deirdre McEvoy, high-ranking government lawyers headed to Jones Day and Patterson Belknap, respectively. [New York Law Journal]

* Today the Supreme Court will hear argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, a major campaign finance case that some are calling “the next Citizens United.” Check out an interview with one of the lawyers behind it, after the jump. [UCTV]

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* According to Altman Weil, law firm merger mania is on pace for record highs as firms desperately attempt to stave off financial problems by gobbling up smaller firms’ clients. [Am Law Daily]

* The NCAA better watch its back: Jeffrey Kessler, the Winston & Strawn partner who helped bring free agency to the NFL, wants in on the potential case for unpaid college athletes. [Bloomberg]

* Lawyers doing regulatory work are very afraid that the shutdown will decimate their fourth quarter billables because “[t]he longer it goes, the more problematic it will be.” Yay government. [Reuters]

* GrayRobinson partner Philippe Devé is in need of a bone marrow transplant, and his firm is using its social media presence to crowdsource a donor. Will you lend a helping hand? [Daily Business Review]

* UpCounsel has successfully raised $1.5 million in funding to beef up its international patent practice, proving the point that it costs a pretty penny to protect clients from the world’s patent trolls. [TechCrunch]

* Law schools in New York State are feeling the pain of the drop in applications, and some are now willing admit that their graduates had to start “cannibalizing each other” in the job market. [New York Law Journal]

* But really, so what if applications are down? Lots of law schools consider themselves lucky to be keeping the lights on with the assistance of generous alumni donations in the millions. [National Law Journal]

* Another day, another “diploma mill.” Sorry to disappoint you, law students and alumni, but Charleston School of Law is moving forward with its plans to sell out to the InfiLaw System. [Post and Courier]

* Who’s bad? Not AEG Live. A jury made up of people unable to answer yes or no questions during the reading of the verdict found that the concert promoter wasn’t liable in Michael Jackson’s death. [CNN]

Use of the verein structure: all the Biglaw cool kids are doing it. Okay, well maybe not the coolest kids, at least if “cool” is tied to profits per partner and prestige. But there’s no doubt that the verein structure is spreading rapidly throughout Biglaw.

This is partly because firms that use the verein form are fond of combining with other firms. If the talks between Dentons and McKenna Long bear fruit, the resulting entity will surely be a verein, like Dentons and its constituent firms.

But does the verein structure present ethical problems for the firms that employ it? Two observers of the legal profession believe it does….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Be Afraid, Be Verein Afraid”

If you found the news of secretarial buyouts at McKenna Long & Aldridge to be a little underwhelming, fear not. Today we have more exciting developments to share with you about the firm.

As noted in Morning Docket, McKenna Long is in talks to combine with Dentons. The talks started four to five months ago, got serious in the past month or so, and could result in a completed transaction by January 2014. News of the talks was first reported last night by Am Law Daily.

Would a Dentons/McKenna Long combination really be a “merger”? Let’s discuss….

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Amanda Knox

* “The multimillion dollar question is: Is it going to happen and for how long?” Surprisingly, health care attorneys from large firms are being quite blasé about the Congressional battle over Obamacare. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The 2013 Global 100 is out, and with an 8.6 percent growth in revenue, DLA Piper was able to really show the world the benefits of churning that bill, baby! We’ll have more on this news later today. [American Lawyer]

* This is getting exhausting: Dentons, the three-way merger product of SNR Denton (a merger product itself), Salans, and Fraser Milner Casgrain, is in talks with McKenna Long & Aldridge for yet another merger. [Am Law Daily]

* The director of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s enforcement unit will be stepping down to spend time more with family. The countdown until he returns to Skadden Arps starts now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Ted Olson and David Boies, perhaps more commonly known these days as the gay marriage dream team, will be working together to challenge Virginia’s ban on marriage equality. [National Law Journal]

* Should law school be two years long? Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency (3 points) is beating the pants off Northwestern’s dean (-4 points) in this debate. [Debate Club / U.S. News & World Report]

* If you’re still considering applying for law school despite all of the warnings seen here and elsewhere, then you’ll probably want to follow this advice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* The Italian Court of Appeal is retrying Amanda Knox of a crime she’s already been convicted and acquitted of, and the chances she’ll be extradited if convicted again are slim to none. Buon lavoro. [CNN]

The ship be sinking?

As in-house columnist Mark Herrmann put it, “Dewey know who’s next?” No, we don’t. But we certainly have some guesses about major law firms that are existentially challenged.

Here at Above the Law, we do maintain a shortlist of Biglaw firms that could go under. But, truth be told, the list is not that exciting. With a handful of exceptions, the firms that populate it are big regional firms, not national or international behemoths, and they cluster toward the lower echelons of the Am Law 200 or NLJ 350. Put another way, no firm on our list boasts the size and stature of Dewey & LeBoeuf. (If you know of a firm that should be placed on our list, please email us, subject line “Biglaw Death Watch,” or text us, at 646-820-8477.)

But even if a firm isn’t a household name, lawyers and staffers will suffer when it goes under. Let’s hear about the latest large law firm that appears to be on the ropes….

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* Will adjudicate for food? With a little more than one week until the end of the fiscal year, the federal judiciary is facing down a “worst-case scenario” with respect to its budget. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* An unremarkable percentage of firms are led by women lawyers, but Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump awaits a day when being a first woman in law won’t be “newsworthy.” [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Law firm merger mania, Heartland edition: Stinson Morrison Hecker did the do-si-do with Leonard Street & Deinard and will promenade home as Stinson Leonard Street in January. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Hearts are breaking on either side of the nationwide same-sex marriage debate, and county clerks are bearing the brunt of all the complaints. When will all states “bit[e] the bullet” and legalize it? [Reuters]

* “The last time I went into court, I was wearing something that I got at Goodwill.” It turns out even geniuses are stupid enough to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt. [Los Angeles Times]

Because football is better than job stats.

* In the latest round of musical chairs, Skadden Arps managed to scoop up products liability queen and top woman litigator Lisa Gilford from Alston & Bird. Congratulations! [The Recorder (sub. req.)]

* Is merger mania a thing of the past? With pocketbooks tighter than ever, “pseudo-mergers” are starting to look great. No one will complain about more lawyers with less liability. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Man, it’d be great if you could represent plaintiffs in a class action suit and keep all of the settlement funds without having to pay your clients a cent. Oh wait, you can actually do that? [New York Times]

* “It shows he’s adventuresome and he’s got good taste.” Peter Zimroth, the lawyer appointed to oversee the reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, married very, very well. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA approved Texas A&M’s acquisition of Texas Wesleyan’s law school. Hello to the Texas A&M Johnny Football School of Law! We hope to see the Heisman of employment stats. [National Law Journal]

* A judge says the woman who sued Paula Deen for racial discrimination was nothing more than an “accidental victim.” And like that, her race-based claims have melted away like butter, y’all. [ABC News]

* Daniel Chong, the student that the DEA locked in a cell and forgot about for a few days, has settled his lawsuit against the government for $4.1 million. No snark here, congratulations. [CNN]

* Meanwhile, O.J. Simpson is getting parole (but not quite getting released yet). Here comes Naked Gun 4! [ABC News]

* A Kenyan lawyer is challenging the trial of Jesus Christ at the International Court of Justice. [Legal Cheek]

* Professor Paul Campos notes that from 2004-2013, it’s gotten much easier to get into law school. This year 80 percent of students applying to law school will get in somewhere. At least the profession is upholding its high standards. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* DMX declared bankruptcy because bankruptcy actually makes it easier to get a passport. How is DMX broke? Are the residuals from Exit Wounds not paying the bills? [Grantland]

* King & Wood Mallesons and SJ Berwin LLP are merging to create one of the largest law firms in the world. Dewey think a merger is a good idea? [WSJ Law Blog]

* A follow-up on a previous item, checking in on the status of the petition to save the federal defenders one week in. [PrawfsBlawg]

* A profile of the “eighth governor” of the Federal Reserve and Georgetown Law grad, General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. I would say this is a fascinating look at a prominent regulatory staff member, but the article makes it clear that “regulation” is not exactly the Alvarez agenda. [DealBook]

* Watch the dean of a law school defend a 0 percent bar passage rate. [ABC 33/40]

* Another new resource out there — LawTrades. Basically, it’s ZocDoc for lawyers where lawyers can register and prospective clients can search for an attorney who meets their needs. [LawTrades]

* What are the greatest legal novels of all time? The ABA Journal assembled a panel including our own David Lat and provided a list. You can disagree, but I see one of Archer’s favorites made the list (clip after the jump)…

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Sarah Jones

* Akin Gump partner Patricia Millett is willing to take a whopping pay cut to serve on the D.C. Circuit — from $1MM to $184K — and for that alone she should be confirmed ASAP. [National Law Journal]

* With the number of law firm mergers in the last six months alone, we’re on a “potentially record-setting pace” for 2013. Hey, look at it this way: it’s cheaper than hiring and firing laterals. [Am Law Daily]

* Three years later, the epic litigation between Debevoise & Plimpton and a former client continues to rage on. Now, allegations are being tossed around about a partner’s behavior. [New York Law Journal]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June, the legal industry lost more jobs than it has in a single month since June 2011. Congrats, Class of 2013! welcome to the real world. [Am Law Daily]

* In its defense, Standard & Poor’s claims its ratings were puffery, and that no reasonable investor would rely on them. Aww, poor widdle “sophisticated consumers of [investment information].” [Bloomberg]

* For those of you practicing personal injury law in New York, this case is a bombshell. If you want to put the whole insurance industry on trial, follow the action here. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Sarah Jones, the ex-cheerleader who sued TheDirty.com for defamation, was back in federal court yesterday for the beginning of her case’s retrial. What a way to start an engagement. [ABC News]

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