Law Firm Mergers

Peter Kalis

As we head into the weekend, we’re happy to bring you additional commentary from Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates. Earlier this week, the colorful Kalis was unanimously reelected to his leadership role by the 60 voting members of the Management Committee.

The delightfully opinionated Kalis recently gave an interview to Am Law Daily, in which he shed additional light on the state of K&L Gates. His remarks weren’t as forceful as the beatdown he administered to the firm’s anonymous detractors last week, but they are interesting….

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Law firm layoffs follow law firm mergers as naturally as Biglaw firms follow the Cravath bonus scale. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that McKenna Long & Aldridge, after absorbing Luce Forward this past March, is cutting loose some Luce lawyers.

How many lawyers are we talking about? And are these actually true layoffs? Let’s discuss….

An UPDATE, after the jump.

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Peter Kalis: hail to the chief!

Much like the similarly named Kelis, his milkshake brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard. Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, just won a fifth consecutive term at the helm of the global mega-firm. As noted in the firm’s press release, which we received here at Above the Law, the 60 voting members of the Management Committee supported Kalis unanimously.

Kalis assumed leadership of the firm in 1997, back when it was called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. On Kalis’s watch, the firm conducted eight mergers, including the combination with Preston Gates & Ellis that resulted in the “K&L Gates” moniker. When Kalis took the helm, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart was a regional firm with six offices, all in the Eastern time zone of the United States. Now K&L Gates boasts almost 2,000 lawyers in 41 offices on four continents.

But growth brings with it growing pains. Let’s discuss those, and get some information about partner capital contributions at the firm….

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Now this is how you handle negative rumors about your firm.

As we mentioned last night, in the past week or so we’ve seen media reports of possible trouble at K&L Gates. Stories in Law360 and Crain’s Chicago Business speculated about “an alarming rate” of partner departures and “attorneys increasingly los[ing] faith in the firm’s leadership and strict compensation policies.”

The chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, Peter J. Kalis, isn’t taking all this sitting down. Very early this morning, the famously outspoken Kalis sent around a firm-wide memo that powerfully refutes some of the claims made about the firm.

If you’re at all involved in law firm management, you should read it. The Kalis email offers a master class in how to thoroughly respond to negative rumors….

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On multiple days over the past week or so, one of the top ten search terms bringing visitors to Above the Law has been K&L Gates. For whatever reason, people seem keenly interested in what’s going on right now at this major international law firm.

(But maybe we shouldn’t read too much into such queries. Also in the top ten search engine terms: “pictures of tacos.”)

So what is going on at K&L Gates? A significant amount of partner attrition, as various news outlets have recently pointed out….

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An ethical duty?

* Are you ready for some Supreme gossip? In remarks delivered at Colorado Law, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Defense of Marriage Act would be argued “toward the end of the current term.” [CBS News]

* Dewey’s version of trying to curry favor for the proposed $72M partner settlement? Filing a deposition transcript noting that others could’ve also been blamed for D&L’s downfall, but weren’t due to time constraints. Gee, thanks. [Am Law Daily]

* Novak Druce + Quigg and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz will merge to form Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg, the 7th largest IP firm in the U.S. Guess seven name partners was a bit much. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Michael McShane was nominated by President Obama to fill a judgeship in Oregon. If confirmed, he’d be one of the few openly gay judges on the federal bench, which, of course, would be fabulous. [Oregonian]

* The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession wants the ABA to amend the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include a duty to promote diversity. Because we clearly need a rule on that. [National Law Journal]

* Cindy Garcia, an actress from “Innocence of Muslims,” is suing, claiming that she was duped into the role under false pretenses. She wants the film removed from YouTube. Everyone else does, too, lady. [Bloomberg]

* A judge refused to issue an injunction against the California ban on foie gras, instead allowing a suit on the same topic to move forward. Oh mon dieu, judge, think of all the poor Francophiles! [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Joshua Morse III, former dean of Mississippi Law who defied segregation, RIP. [New York Times]

Kim Kardashian

* Apparently spring bonuses don’t make the Biglaw world go ’round after all. The annual Am Law midlevel survey is out, and satisfaction levels are up across the board. Maybe they’re happy to still be employed. [American Lawyer]

* When Dewey get to retire this used up, old D&L pun? Probably around the same time as that Howrey joke — never. Oh, and the firm asked a bankruptcy judge to approve its $70M partner “clawback” plan. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Oh mon dieu, it’s time for some law firm merger mania! DLA Piper, the second-largest Biglaw behemoth, proposed to French firm Frieh Bouhenic, and of course, the corporate boutique said “oui.” [Legal Week]

* Judicial efficiency: Judge Robert Hinkle says he’ll block Florida’s regulations on voter registration groups just as soon as an appeals court boots the state’s arguments. [Bloomberg]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. will step down as judge in the George Zimmerman case after using “disparaging” language in a bail order. Zimmerman’s probably hoping that the third judge will be the charm for him. [CNN]

* Kim Kardashian settled her suit against The Gap over the company’s use of a look-alike actress in an Old Navy commercial. Sigh. She’ll keep getting paid, no matter what we do. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

Two prestigious names in Philadelphia law announced they are joining forces today. Pepper Hamilton, the storied 120-year-old firm, will be absorbing various outfits spearheaded by Louis Freeh, most recently known for his harsh report following the Penn State scandal.

Let’s check out the details on these two firms, who were already quite close, and are finally tying the knot….

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The law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski is a leader in many fields — at least 31 of them, according to the latest Chambers rankings. In addition to recognizing Fulbright as a leading firm in 31 categories, the influential Chambers guide also named 99 Fulbright lawyers as leading individuals in their practice areas.

Fulbright excels in other areas well — for example, social media. It is one of the few major law firms that knows how to use Twitter.

Alas, these days the firm is also a leader in a less appealing arena: staff layoffs. Last October, the firm laid off at least a dozen employees.

And now it seems that more reductions might be on the way. Could Fulbright be trying to slim itself down in advance of a merger with another firm?

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(And could a merger be in the works?)

Sexorcise the demon!

* You don’t necessarily have to agree with what Chief Justice John Roberts did with respect to his health care opinion, but you’ve got to admit that it was an act of statesmanship that will forever define his legacy on the Court. [New York Times]

* CNN, one of the world’s most reliable news networks, reports that no many legal scholars were surprised unsurprised by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to strike down uphold the Individual Broccoli Mandate Affordable Care Act. [CNN]

* Word to the wise: don’t get cocky over in the Eighth Circuit, because apparently boosting the length of a prison term based on whether or not a defendant is smiling at sentencing is not considered an abuse of discretion. [National Law Journal]

* Dewey know why the number of law firm mergers and acquisitions in the United States dropped during the second quarter? Truth be told, they’re all scared, because “[n]obody wants to wind up with a lemon.” [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* George Zimmerman, the man charged in Trayvon Martin’s death, is returning to court today to try to get himself released on bond… again. Let’s give him some credit, because he sure is tenacious. [ABC News]

* Listen, it’s not an easy thing to perform an exorcism these days. Sometimes a priest really just needs to kiss and caress the demon out of your body — a sexorcism, if you will. Nothing to sue over, nothing at all. [MSNBC]

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