* Musical chairs (White House hottie edition): Michael Gottlieb, former associate counsel to President Barack Obama, is joining the Washington, D.C. office of Boies Schiller. [Blog of Legal Times]
* The search is on for jurors to serve in the criminal trial for Bernie Madoff’s former employees, but in a case of guilt by association, it’s proving to be a difficult exercise. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “Democracy is not on autopilot,” said Justice Kennedy at Penn Law. Just because we have a Constitution doesn’t mean it will prevail — which is being evidenced by our government now. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
* Because no one could be more “non-essential” than a law student during this mess, the government shutdown is taking a toll on their externship placements throughout the district. [National Law Journal]
* The Princeton Review’s annual law school rankings are out, and boy, have things changed — including the schools with the best career prospects. We’ll have more on this news later today. [Chicago Tribune]
* Cooley Law is teaming up with Eastern Michigan University to offer joint degrees. But we thought Cooley was teaming up with Western Michigan University. Is Cooley infiltrating all Michigan schools? [MLive.com]
* “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]
* 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]
If you’re working in-house and dealing with bet-the-company litigation, you want the very best litigators in the world to be on your side. You want a firm with litigators so strong that it will make opponents gasp in fear at the very mention of its name. You want a firm that is known internationally for “go[ing] for the jugular” and coming out on top.
But how can you ensure that you’ve picked the right firm? BTI Consulting Group just made it a little easier with the release of its annual ranking of the firms “most likely to trigger dread” in opposing counsel, as determined by a poll of about 300 in-house attorneys. After reviewing all responses, BTI named the “Fearsome Foursome,” the most-feared litigation firms in the country.
Which firms returned to this year’s list and which firms dropped off of it? Check out the latest rankings…
Before we get to the nation’s most-feared firms, here’s some additional information on the methodology behind how they were named, courtesy of Law360 (sub. req.):
The recognitions were based on about 300 one-on-one interviews with litigation heads, general counsel and other law departments leads conducted between March and June, according to BTI. The represented companies had an average annual revenue of $14.3 billion.
This year, the following firms were dubbed the Fearsome Foursome and honored for their ability to strike fear in their opponents’ hearts and minds throughout the course of high-stakes litigation:
Only one firm, Boies Schiller, slipped off the list of honorees this year, while the rest continue to reign as returning champions. Taking the firm’s place is Quinn Emanuel, a litigation powerhouse that was previously honored on the BTI list in years past. (Don’t worry about this one, Boies Schiller — you’ve earned more than enough recognition as a bad-ass firm thanks to David Boies and his Prop 8 success.)
BTI President Michael Rynowecer had this to say of the 2014 Fearsome Foursome: “They have a take-no-prisoners attitude, and they don’t contemplate not winning. They bring the right people, the right chemistry. It’s all about the level of commitment, and not just in courtroom strategy, but in getting the right resources together.” In other words, these are the firms you want to have in your corner if you want to win big.
The BTI report also named four firms as “Awesome Opponents,” additional firms that corporate counsel would prefer to steer clear of in litigation: Boies Schiller, Cravath, Hogan Lovells, and Jenner & Block. Congratulations to all firms that were honored this year for their cutthroat litigation skills.
Do you think the Fearsome Foursome and Awesome Opponents actually earned their titles this year? Can you think of a law firm that deserves to be recognized but hasn’t been? Please give us your thoughts.
As we mentioned earlier, prominent litigator David Bernick is leaving Boies Schiller for Dechert. Bernick joined Boies Schiller just a year ago, to much fanfare, so some were surprised to see him go so quickly.
But others were not shocked. As the always insightful Alison Frankel observed on Twitter, “Is anyone who knows David Bernick surprised he was mismatch at firm dominated by David Boies?”
Perhaps not. Some of our readers predicted this union wouldn’t last long….
When we wrote about Bernick joining Boies last year, one commenter offered the following opinion: “Unless Boies is retiring tomorrow, I’m not sure the firm can handle this much ego in one tiny office. Supernova implosion in 3-2-1…”
Another reader had this rebuttal: “Boies’s office is in Armonk. Bernick will be working out of the NYC office.” But the distance between BSF’s Armonk and Manhattan offices, about 40 miles or 50 minutes by car, was never the point. The real issue was whether a firm that’s small by Biglaw standards could have room for two big names and personalities.
And, of course, their potentially conflicting clients — a problem that grows bigger as firms expand, as Boies Schiller has over the years. Peter Lattman of DealBook reports:
Mr. Bernick’s departure is in large part because conflicts of interest with existing Boies Schiller clients prohibited him from representing certain other companies, said Dawn Schneider, a spokeswoman for Boies Schiller.
“We wish him well for the future,” Ms. Schneider said.
Bernick seems to be leaving BSF on good terms. Here’s what one of our tipsters told us about him: “I attended a lunch lecture he gave about the antitrust trial. He is a great presenter and just drew me right into the stories of the case. I can see that he is a great trial lawyer. Unfortunately, I did not work with him while he was here.”
A second source wasn’t able to form an opinion due to the brevity of Bernick’s tenure: “I actually know nothing about Bernick — I mean, at all. He came, he saw, he went. I forget how you say that in Latin. But I completely missed him. That will teach me not to blink.”
Well, keep your eyes open when dealing with a lawyer as aggressive and as smart as David Bernick. As one former adversary of his commented, “I’ve never litigated against a more giant d****ebag. Bernick represents everything wrong with the American legal system.”
But that sounds like sour grapes. A former colleague of Bernick from his thirty-plus years at Kirkland & Ellis offered this rejoinder:
Litigating against David Bernick is not fun. I’ve litigated with David Bernick, and even that is rough. But he is simply one of the greatest lawyers ever, and he achieves great results for his clients. Sorry that your experience was so traumatic, and I am sure David Bernick does not care what you think.
If Bernick’s feelings are hurt, he can wipe his tears with hundred-dollar bills. Dechert is welcomimg him with open arms — chairman Andrew Levander praised Bernick as “one of the best lawyers out there, one of a handful of elite lead trial lawyers operating on the national stage” — and is surely paying Bernick a pretty penny, as BSF must have done when it hired him a year ago. And before joining Boies, Bernick earned millions as the general counsel of Philip Morris International. He was one of the nation’s highest-paid GCs in both the 2011 rankings and 2012 rankings.
Congratulations and good luck to David Bernick at Dechert. He has jumped around a fair amount over the past few years, but hopefully he’ll find happiness in his latest home.
P.S. We welcome any insights or information from readers about Bernick, Boies, or Dechert. Feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.
* Even the election law controversies are bigger in Texas. The Department of Justice is currently planning to intervene in one lawsuit and file another against the Lone Star state over its voter identification law and redistricting plans. [National Law Journal]
* Here’s an especially helpful ruling for people who have been living their lives without landlines (so, basically everyone). You can gratefully thank the Third Circuit for allowing you to block those annoying robocalls on your cellphones. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Well, that was quick — a Biglaw pump and dump, if you will. After only a year, David M. Bernick, former general counsel of Philip Morris, is leaving Boies Schiller and will likely be taking a position at Dechert. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “[L]ife got in the way.” Who really needs loyalty in Biglaw these days? More than half of the nearly 500 associates and counsel who made partner in 2013 started their careers at different firms. [Am Law Daily]
* Another one bites the dust. John McGahren, the New Jersey managing partner of Patton Boggs, just resigned from an office he opened himself after some major attorney downsizing. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* “In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing.” Comforting. Microsoft is under the microscope of a federal bribery probe. [Corporate Counsel]
* Ronald Motley, a “charismatic master of the courtroom” who founded Motley Rice, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]
In this economy, in the “new normal,” the most prestigious firm is the one that has given you a job offer. Sure, there are still students and grads who are lucky enough to be juggling multiple job offers from major firms in multiple cities. And to those people we say, “OMG, I hate you, shut up and go away.”
For those experiencing an embarrassment of job offer riches, here are the Vault rankings. Yay. Take a look at them, by yourself, under the covers, where nobody else can see that you have options….
The new Vault list is substantially similar to the old Vault list; number one, once again, is Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz & Awesome. No drama at Wachtell, people are working too hard to generate much drama I guess.
To create the Vault Law 100, we ask associates to score law firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how prestigious it is to work for the firm (associates are asked to ignore any firm with which they are unfamiliar and are not allowed to rank their own firm). We then average the score for each firm and rank the firms in order. This year, Wachtell’s score was an impressive 9.083, but Cravath was not far behind at 8.996—the smallest difference in score since 2009.
I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s something like, “Cravath will once again decide how big of a bonus you get this fall.”
Boies Schiller continues its march up the rankings, clocking in at number 15 this year. Quinn Emanuel is also up once again this year, to number 17. The power of litigation powerhouses compels you.
Back near the top, S&C and Skadden do their periodic flip-flop. The Vault rankings were obviously finalized before Weil’s shocking layoff news yesterday, but historically the Vault rankings have been relatively immune to layoff concerns. Prestige evidently means offering you the job in the first place, not firing you from it later down the road.
We’ll revisit these rankings come bonus season. Most likely, Wachtell will do its own thing, and then a lot of people will follow Cravath, until Boies and Quinn do something to push the envelope.
* This year, like every year before it, SCOTUS is saving the best cases (read: most controversial) for last. We’ll likely see opinions on voting rights, affirmative action, and gay marriage in June. [WSJ Law Blog]
* We know of at least one Biglaw firm that will be putting its increase in gross revenue to work. Boies Schiller is planning to open its first office outside of the United States in the “near-term.” [Am Law Daily]
* If you’d like to get paid under a terrorism insurance policy for your damages in the Boston bombings, you’ll have to wait; the bombings haven’t been certified as acts of terror yet. [National Law Journal]
* Mandatory pro bono work is now required for bar admission in New York, but it’s still not enough to close the justice gap. Now Chief Judge Lippman wants to give non-lawyers a chance to provide legal services. [New York Law Journal]
* Arizona Law recently made the announcement that interim dean Marc Miller has been instated as the school’s permanent dean. What’s not to like about a “new” dean and new tuition cuts? [UANews]
* As many of our readers know, the job market is rough, but apparently if you take some compliance classes in law school, you’ll magically become employable. Great success! [Corporate Counsel]
* Brooklyn Law, do you remember what your old dorm looked like? It’s different now that it’s been transformed into an apartment complex that’s no longer stained with the tears of law students. [Curbed]
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” and with regard to economic recovery, Biglaw firms seem to have taken that up as their new motto.
Yes, partners are still living as large as they ever were, but their success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics. The divide between the “haves and the have-nots” in the world of major law firms has grown to epic proportions, and some Am Law 100 staples have fallen out of the top hundred firms altogether. Welcome to the new normal.
Are you ready to get excited about “modest” and “spotty” gains across the board? Let’s dig in….
Well, now we know which firms were swimming naked after all. In fiscal 2012, The Am Law 100 … posted modest gains on all our key metrics. For gross revenue, revenue per lawyer, and profits per partners, the top 100 firms notched low single-digit year-over-year increases. But those averages belied the recovery’s unevenness. Only 76 firms reported gross revenue increases last year. And only 66 had profit per partner increases—down from 80 firms and 72 firms, respectively, on last year’s Am Law 100 list.
For the Am Law 100 as a whole, gross revenue rose by 3.4 percent (representing a new record), revenue per lawyer rose by 2.6 percent, and profits per partner rose by 4.2 percent. The firms in the top half of the Am Law 100 saw PPP grow by 8 percent, while PPP for the latter half fell by 3.3 percent.
Here are some quick highlights (from articles included in the issue):
1. There were five newcomers to the Am Law 100: Bracewell & Guiliani (this firm fell off the wagon last year; welcome back), Faegre Baker Daniels, Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen and Loewy, McKenna Long & Aldridge, and Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart. On the other hand, four firms dropped off the list: Barnes & Thornburg, Chadbourne & Parke (ouch; the firm had appeared on the list for nearly three decades), Cozen O’Connor, and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker.
2. Thanks to a gigantic contingency fee, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton was a firm that struck gold: “Gross revenue shot up to $44.5 million, a 12.3 percent increase. The top-line growth boosted revenue per lawyer to $735,000, a 16.7 percent rise that is The Am Law 100’s largest, while profits per equity partner rose to $860,000, a 36.5 percent jump that is The Am Law 100’s second-largest.”
3. Several firms saw double-digit increases in gross revenue, the largest of which (more than 12 percent) were at the following firms: Paul Weiss, Quinn Emanuel, Arnold & Porter, Baker & Hostetler, Hughes Hubbard, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Fragomen, McKenna Long & Aldridge (the largest increase of all — 23.4 percent), Bracewell & Guiliani, and Ogletree Deakins.
And now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the most important metrics of all: gross revenue, revenue per lawyer, and profits per partner….
Today, the National Law Journal released its list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The NLJ releases a similar list once every few years, and each time, the nation’s top lawyers — some from Biglaw, some from legal academia, some from the in-house world, and some from the trial and appellate bars — celebrate their success in creating real change in the industry. That said, the people named to this list are relatively well-known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t exactly be household names to laypeople.
Which legal eagles soared into the NLJ’s list this time around? Well, the NLJ selected their influential lawyers based on their political clout, legal results, media penetration, business credibility, and thought leadership. We’ve whittled the impressive list of 100 down to our own top 10.
So who made our cut?
Did we say 10? We really meant 12, but we’ve recognized some of them here as joint nominations. Here are the 12 lawyers we took special notice of, in alphabetical order, with a brief blurb about each one. If we happened to miss anyone that you think should’ve been included, please email us or let us know in the comments, and we will update our own list accordingly.
How could we not include this dynamic duo as a twofer? We’re talking about two amazing lawyers for the price of… well, let’s just say God would probably blush at their hourly rates. Boies has been the chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner since 1997, and Olson has been a partner at Gibson Dunn since 1972. The pair faced off in Bush v. Gore (Olson repped Bush and Boies reppred Gore), and now they’ve teamed up to argue California’s ban on gay marriage before the Supreme Court.
Boutrous is the co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups, and we recently profiled him in the ATL Interrogatories. Fun fact: Did you know that Boutrous was first interviewed by Ted Olson at Gibson Dunn? Not only is he the class action king behind Wal-Mart v. Dukes, but now he’s teamed up with his mentor, to challenge Prop 8 before the Supreme Court.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the patron saint of conservative causes. Once a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, Clement is now a partner at Bancroft. Last year, he unsuccessfully tried to overturn Obamacare, and now he’s trying to defend the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supremes. (Bonus: if you’re a liberal and you can get around his political ideologies, he’s kind of cute.)
Google is so hot right now, and so is the company’s chief legal officer. Seriously, check him out, he’s a stud. Drummond first advised Google during his years at Wilson Sonsini before he hopped in-house in 2002. Thus far, Drummond has guided Google through many “cutting-edge legal battles,” and hopefully he’ll continue to help them do no evil for years and years to come.
Once a partner at Akin Gump, Goldstein left the firm to return to his own practice. On top of his scholarly interests in constitutional law, Goldstein is perhaps best known for founding SCOTUSblog, the leading website for Supreme Court jurisprudence. Plus, he got five million hits on the day the Obamacare decision was announced, and that’s no small feat.
Say hello to the man, the myth, the mustache: Eric Holder. As the first African-American attorney general of the United States, he’s overseen some of the biggest cases our nation has ever seen. Things were going smashingly for him at the Department of Justice up until that Fast and Furious mishap, but we’re sure that he’ll be able to turn it around when he inevitably returns to Biglaw in the future.
You know him as one of the founders of Law School Transparency and our 2010 Lawyer of the Year, but the profession knows him better as one of the voices behind the transformation of the way law schools report legal employment. Before the lawsuits and before government figures hopped on the train, McEntee (much like our own Elie Mystal) was one of the first to give law students a dose of reality.
Can somebody break a hundred for John Quinn? One of the more colorful Biglaw characters we’ve covered, this Quinn Emanuel legal heavyweight is known for typing only in lowercase. Also worthy of mention is Kathleen Sullivan, the first female name partner of an Am Law 100 firm. She was heavily involved in the Mattel v. MGA case, and we wouldn’t mind if a Lawyer Barbie were modeled after her.
One of America’s best-paid general counsel (earning more than $2 million), this leading litigatrix used to bring home $6 million paychecks at DLA Piper before she left for Pfizer to make a pfortune. While not counting her millions, Schulman serves as a mentor for mothers dealing with work/life balance issues. Sidebar: much to Biglaw’s chagrin, she’s led the battle against outside counsel’s hourly billing.
If you’re not familiar with this man’s name, then perhaps you’ve been sleeping under a rock. Verrilli’s been the Solicitor General of the United States since 2011, but prior to his time as a government attorney, he was a litigator at Jenner & Block. Though some called his performance defending Obamacare a disaster, he was vindicated when the Supreme Court decision came out in his favor.
And there you have it: Above the Law’s picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Lawyers in America. Congratulations to all the lawyers who made the NLJ’s Top 100, but know that you hold an extra special place in our hearts if you were talented enough to be culled from the herd and garner a mention here.
Ted Olson and David Boies: adversaries, then allies, then adversaries again.
After covering the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy hearing on Wednesday morning, I walked a few blocks uptown to the Second Circuit for another exciting event: oral argument in the closely watched Argentina bondholder litigation. It was a Biglaw battle royal, pitting Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and current Gibson Dunn partner, against a tag team of top lawyers that included David Boies, Olson’s adversary in Bush v. Gore (and ally in Hollingsworth v. Perry).
Here’s my account of the proceedings, including photos….
[T]he Second Circuit held arguments in the Argentina sovereign debt case. This case is … I mean, you kind of had to be following along, but quick summary: back in the day Argentina defaulted on some old bonds, and exchanged most of them at a discount into new bonds, which it’s been making payments on.
Elliott Management [through affiliate NML Capital Ltd.] bought a bunch of old bonds, which Argentina has not been making payments on, and sued Argentina to make them pay the old bonds pari passu ["on equal footing"] with the new ones. Elliott won in a lower court, and then sort of won on appeal, and then Argentina raised some mind-meltingconsequences in the lower court, and then Elliott won again anyway, and now it’s back up on appeal again, and the oral arguments were yesterday. Also there’s a boat.
For a more detailed look at the substantive issues involved, see Matt’s full post, Felix Salmon’s insightful analysis, and the links collected at the end of this post. But this summary should suffice for now.
The Second Circuit is housed in the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, a stunning, Classical Revival structure designed by Cass Gilbert (who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court building). The recently renovated courthouse features a six-story courthouse base (click to enlarge):
And a 30-story tower of power:
When I arrived at the courthouse, I began to get nervous….
DuPont Minority Fair – August 3
Berkeley Law School – August 6
Harvard Law School – August 12
Duke Law School – August 13th
Georgetown Law School – August 13
Yale Law School – August 14
University of Pennsylvania – August 14
University of Virginia – August 14
New York University – August 16
Stanford Law School – August 26
University of Chicago – August 29