* “Some discrimination’s okay. It’s only certain kinds that aren’t good.” We’ve got a feeling we know which side the Supreme Court will come out on when it comes to the Mount Holly Gardens case in New Jersey, so fare thee well, Fair Housing Act. [MSNBC]
* Hallelujah! After last month’s miraculous news of this troubled firm finding a savior in Cooley LLP, the Left-Behinders of the Dow Lohnes partnership ranks are counting their blessings as they slowly but surely find new homes elsewhere. [Am Law Daily]
* After a political process that’s lasted for ages, now all that’s needed is the governor’s signature, and then Illinois will become the 15th state to officially have legalized same-sex marriage. Hooray! [New York Times]
* Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are annoyed that access to their client has been limited by jailhouse rules. A judge will slap down their motion next week. [National Law Journal]
Last month we wrote about a Biglaw firm that’s in big trouble. The firm in question: Dow Lohnes, a former Am Law 200 firm that has been hemorrhaging lawyers and clients (and lost two more partners last week, to Venable). In our story about Dow Lohnes, we noted that “[i]t seems possible that the firm could merge out of existence — if it’s lucky enough to find a partner.”
Fortunately for the remaining lawyers and staff at Dow Lohnes, the sinking ship has located some lifeboats. A larger and stronger firm, a member of the Am Law 50 and Vault 100, will be picking up many (but not all) of Dow Lohnes’s lawyers.
Who’s the white knight riding to the rescue of Dow Lohnes?
The technology law firm Cooley will merge with the smaller Dow Lohnes, taking over many of its Washington lawyers but not those in Atlanta, according to Cooley’s CEO.
Fifty-four lawyers and 20 other professionals will join Cooley’s Washington office to form a regulatory practice servicing the higher education, media, technology and communications industries, said Cooley CEO Joe Conroy.
Cooley will not hire Dow Lohnes lawyers in the Atlanta office, Conroy said, although it will assume Dow Lohnes’ lease obligations.
Dow Lohnes managing partner John Byrnes will sit on the Cooley compensation committee for two years, Conroy said, and be an observer of the firm’s management committee, but not a member.
The new firm will retain the name Cooley LLP.
Of course the firm is keeping the Cooley name. This is less of a merger and more of a mercy, with Cooley kindly picking up many (but not all) of Dow Lohnes’s lawyers. It’s similar to, say, Sonnenschein’s rescue of about 100 lawyers from failing Thacher Proffitt & Wood.
Also note how many Dow Lohnes folks are not making the move to Cooley. According to Thomson Reuters, Dow Lohnes has 93 lawyers and other professionals, but only 74 people are joining Cooley. Perhaps many of the 20 or so who are not getting rescued are based out of Atlanta, where Cooley will not be hiring lawyers (and does not currently have an office, even though it’s picking up the Dow Lohnes lease for some reason).
Dow Lohnes has been in merger discussion with several law firms, according to at least four sources familiar with the matter. One source said the firms included Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, Baker & McKenzie, and Manatt Phelps & Phillips.
Cooley does seem like a good home for the Dow Lohnes D.C. team. The Cooley press release stresses how the Dow Lohnes lawyers will enhance Cooley’s existing strengths in regulatory, communications, and technology work. The transaction will take effect on January 1, 2014, and the new firm will have around 750 lawyers. In the latest Am Law 100 rankings, Cooley ranked 47th, with revenue of $617 million; perhaps the pickup of the Dow Lohnes lawyers will send Cooley higher next year (at least in the Am Law 100 rankings, which are based on total revenue; it’s not clear what the Dow Lohnes deal will do to profits per partner, where Cooley clocks in at #40, with PPP of $1.49 million).
Congratulations to the Dow Lohnes lawyers and staff who will be making the jump to Cooley. If anyone has information or insight on how this transaction will affect Cooley, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).
UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): More about the move from The BLT, which notes that after absorbing Dow Lohnes’s D.C. office, Cooley will have about 130 lawyers in Washington, making it one of the 35 largest law offices in the nation’s capital.
UPDATE (10/16/2013, 9:45 a.m.): Here’s coverage from the Washington Post, which notes that the Atlanta lawyers and staff of Dow Lohnes will need to find new jobs before the end of the year.
When it comes to the deposition process, it can get painfully boring for everyone involved. That’s why we love it when deponents spice things up by telling attorneys to “suck [their] dick,” or by accusing counsel of asking “stupid-ass questions.”
Sometimes, even the lawyers get involved in the fun, by drawing pictures of male genitalia or asking probing questions like, “So, your jurisprudential hymen is being ruptured?” We thought that we’d seen it all when it came to deposition antics, but it seems that we were incredibly mistaken.
Has a naked man ever interrupted one of your depositions?
Snapchat, the disappearing photo messaging app, is involved in some very high-profile litigation over its origins. Reggie Brown, a Stanford graduate, is suing Snapchat’s co-founders, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, for allegedly robbing him of his stake in the company. Firms that have been or are currently representing parties in this case run the gamut from large to small, featuring names like Quinn Emanuel, Cooley, and Lee Tran & Liang (a firm founded by former QE attorneys).
The naked man deposition incident happened at Cooley before Quinn took over on the case. The L.A. offices of Cooley are located in Santa Monica, California, a city whose inhabitants are apparently prone to walking around in the buff. Michael Rhodes, the partner on the case, was willing to take one for the team and sit facing the window so that the deponent, Reggie Brown, wouldn’t be subjected to a view of full-on balls during his testimony.
Brown’s lawyer, Luan Tran, makes a telling statement before before his client’s deposition begins. It seems that the naked man was present before it even began, and as any good lawyer would, he just wanted to make sure Cooley hadn’t paid a man to display his privates for a dirty depo experience (Ray Mandlekar was Tran’s co-counsel at the time):
Alas, Michael Rhodes was wrong about his window view. Reggie Brown was able to very clearly see a buck-ass naked man from his perspective, and later felt the need to let Rhodes know that the nude dude was (indicating) at him:
“The naked man is gesturing to me.” Too bad it wasn’t a Snapchat pic, eh Reggie?
(You can find a copy of the deposition on the next page, as Exhibit D of the legal document.)
‘What, no power rings for the Law School Avengers?’
* In case you didn’t catch this yesterday when it was announced, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is currently being held for trial in New York City. This will be the most unbiased jury in the world. /sarcasm [New York Times]
* According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, democracies shouldn’t depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.” Well then! I suppose we should look forward to the uprising. [The Big Story / Associated Press]
* Cooley and Winston & Strawn are working on the $600 million sale of everyone’s favorite store for slutty Halloween costumes, Hot Topic. Apparently that store still exists. I had no idea. Good to know! [Am Law Daily]
* Proskauer Rose is now the most powerful Biglaw firm in the sports world. It just goes to show that even if you’re too awkward to play ball, it doesn’t mean you can’t hit it out of the park in court. [Sports Illustrated]
* “I would love to blink and wake up in 10 years and see where all this ends.” Unemployed law grads are probably saying the same thing, but hopefully these law school law firms will be beneficial. [New York Times]
* A group of legal heavy hitters — “The Coalition of Concerned Colleagues” — submitted a cutting letter to the Task ABA Force on Legal Education. Next time, try “The Law School Avengers.” [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* If it’s proven that enough Native Americans find the Redskins team name offensive, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board may cancel the mark. Would it be offensive to call the TTAB Indian givers? [National Law Journal]
* An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but benchslaps are another thing entirely. Sorry, Gibson Dunn, but your document production “mistake” was “unacceptable” in Judge Paul Grewal’s courtroom. [Bloomberg]
The legal system in this country, it’s not a joke. It’s not a toy for rich idiots to play with.
– Bill Maher, commenting on the $5 million lawsuit filed against him by Donald Trump after the comedian failed to make good on his “offer” to pay Trump if the real estate mogul could prove that he wasn’t the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”
(Maher dedicated an entire segment of his show on Friday night to dissect this absurd lawsuit, and he made some pretty great jokes about Trump’s lawyer from Cooley LLP. Let’s check it out, after the jump.)
When referencing the demand letter he received (which you can see here, as Exhibit B), Bill Maher really went to town on Scott S. Balber, a partner in Cooley’s litigation department and head of the firm’s Financial Services Litigation group, who lateraled in from Chadbourne & Parke, where he served as co-head of the Commercial Litigation practice. Here’s a fun little snippet from Friday night’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher:
Do these morons even know it’s impossible for people and apes to produce offspring? And look at the lawyer’s signature. It just kind of trails off as if to say, “I’m too embarrassed to even finish this.” Scott S… Aw, f**k it, I’m Trump’s lawyer.
Whoever said “any publicity is good publicity” must not have witnessed a lawyer’s name being dragged through the mud for the benefit of a lawsuit-happy client like the Donald. Take a look at the clip to see more:
Perhaps Scott Balber should’ve known better than to monkey around with someone like Donald Trump.
(More information on the suit, and why Trump is likely to lose, after the jump.)
Back in October, everyone’s favorite businessman who needs to fire his hair stylist challenged Barack Obama to present his college transcripts and passport records in exchange for a $5 million donation to the charities of the president’s choice. Needless to say, the POTUS never took Trump up on his offer.
Trump’s offer is what likely spurred Bill Maher’s commentary on the Jay Leno Show last month, where he mused that he’d be “willing to offer $5 million to Donald Trump that he can donate to a charity of his choice — the Hair Club for Men, the Institute for Incorrigible Douchebaggery — whatever charity,” if the Donald could prove that he wasn’t the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”
Seeing as Trump is not a human-orangutan hybrid, he responded by screaming wildly and commanding Cooley LLP to throw legal poop all around, while beating on his chest in a show of his manhood. It probably would’ve been helpful if his attorneys, Scott Balber, Jonathan Cross, and Michael Rhodes, had brushed up on their 1L contracts curriculum prior to filing suit. Leonard v. Pepsico, anyone? In that case, Judge Kimba Wood had to eviscerate a humorous “offer” made in a commercial to explain why it was meant to be taken in jest.
And so, now we have the case of the Trumpian orangutan.
Maher is a comedian. His “offer” might have been pointed, but what judge is going to agree that there’s an objective basis for saying it was understood to be more than a joke? Especially when Maher presents evidence of the studio audience laughing.
Just how far will Donald Trump go to kill a joke? We’re not sure, but we do know that thanks to the filing of this loser of a case, Cooley may soon receive a call to the effect of, “YOU’RE FIRED!”
(Flip to the next page to see the complaint filed in Trump v. Maher, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter.)
Here at Above the Law, we’ve been writing about the “Biglaw boys’ club” for quite some time. According to the latest report compiled by the National Association of Women Lawyers, when it comes to firm life in the fast lane, women continue to have difficulty ascending to the ranks of firm leadership. In fact, that study concluded that in the Am Law 200, women hold only 20 percent of the positions on firm governance committees. What’s worse is that only four percent of Am Law 200 firms have a firmwide managing partner who’s a woman. So much for girl power.
But when it comes to Am Law 100 firms, the American Lawyer recently conducted a similar study, and the results were less than awe-inspiring — in their discussion of the results, the editorial staff go so far as to refer to it as “the law of small numbers.” Lovely. Apparently the glass ceiling is still strong in Biglaw.
So what does the leadership hierarchy look like for women in the Am Law 100? Let’s find out….
Ninety-three of the firms that make up the Am Law 100 responded to questions about women in leadership roles, and the results speak volumes about women’s overall stature in their firms. Here’s more from Am Law:
As our in-depth interactive chart shows, it was a tale of ones and twos among many of the chief governing committees. Almost 80 percent of the 92 firms with a chief governing committee reported a committee with two or fewer women; 42 percent reported a committee with only woman partner.
Well, that’s depressing. The Am Law chart is available here. If you’d like the quick and dirty facts, here are the top ten Am Law 100 firms in terms of the percentage of women on their management committees:
Am Law calls Fulbright, Reed Smith, and Shook Hardy “outliers” because their female partners represented more than a third to half of the firms’ executive committees. As for the rest, here’s how one female partner put it: “There is still a moat around the top management, and that keeps the power to a small group of men.”
Meanwhile, that small group of men keeps offering up logic that reminds us of the transparency argument against law schools: we know we can do better, but everyone else is doing it this way. That small group of men was also chock full of explanations, the most-cited being that there aren’t enough women partners (perhaps they mean equity partners — last we checked, women made up just 15 percent of partners of that variety), and that there aren’t enough women rainmakers (likely because those men are hogging all the work, at least according to this Greenberg Traurig suit). Notice the “blame the woman” trend here?
Sure, some women leave the law or transfer to flexible hours to attend to family matters, but that doesn’t mean that the women who remain are any less competent than their male peers. Give them a chance to shine.
* You know what’s really got to suck hard? Turning down a Supreme Court nomination to be governor, and then losing your gubernatorial re-election bid. Mario Cuomo is the Bad Luck Brian of our time. [New York Daily News]
* And speaking of bad luck, this prominent antitrust lawyer is like the harbinger of Biglaw doom. In the last four years, Marc Schildkraut has bounced from Heller to Howrey to Dewey. Good luck to his new firm, Cooley LLP. [Washingtonian]
* Another judge — this time from the S.D.N.Y. — has found that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Paul Clement, the patron saint of conservative causes, is probably facepalming right now. [Reuters]
* “I don’t know how you all practice law in Texas.” It looks like the judge presiding over the Roger Clemens case hasn’t been keeping up with all of our crazystories from the Lone Star state. [Wall Street Journal]
* “[T]he epitome of unprofessionalism”: State Attorney Angela Corey couldn’t take the heat from Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, so she threatened to sue the school and get him disbarred. [Orlando Sentinel]
* “What did you guys do to deserve me? How did you guys get stuck with this? Ay yi yi.” At least Jerry Sandusky’s got a sense of humor about a potential 500 year sentence. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* The election outlook for birthers may not be so bleak after all. Sure, Orly Taitz lost her bid to be a senator, but Gary Kreep might get to be a judge in San Diego County. We’ll find out later today. [North County Times]
Dewey & LeBoeuf's sign at 1301 Avenue of the Americas. (Photo by David Lat. Feel free to use.)
“Our catering service requires a credit card; client matter numbers no longer accepted. Seamless food ordering requires a credit card or a corporate card.”
“It’s not clear that we still have health insurance.”
“Dewey has cut off subscriptions, and expenses are no longer being reimbursed.”
“Everyone is pretty much packing up. Bankers boxes are on backorder in supplies.”
“Dewey is quietly removing the art from the walls. Perhaps it belongs to the creditors?”
These are some of the sad stories we’re hearing out of Dewey & LeBoeuf today. Let’s discuss the latest news and rumor coming out of the deeply troubled law firm….
Multiple UPDATES and new links, after the jump (at the very end of this post). The Dewey story is moving so quickly that we will do multiple updates to our existing posts instead of writing a new post every time there’s a little additional news to report. Otherwise half of the stories on our front page would be about Dewey, and there is other Biglaw news to report — e.g., the new profit-per-partner rankings from Am Law, salacious lawsuits against prominent D.C. law firms, etc.
We’ll start with the hard news and get progressively softer. First, partners are still leaving in droves. We mentioned almost a dozen of them yesterday (see here, including all the updates). Now there are more, as reported by Thomson Reuters News & Insight:
[P]artner defections continued, bringing the total to at least 92 since the start of the year.
Holland & Knight said on Tuesday that it had hired Stuart Saft, a New York real estate partner at Dewey, and Goodwin Procter announced it had hired Dewey lawyers Ilan Nissan and Christian Nugent as private equity partners.
We mentioned the hiring of Saft, former chair of Dewey’s global real estate practice, in an update to yesterday’s story. The news about Ilan Nissan and Christian Nugent is new, though. If their names sound familiar, they should be: we wrote about them last June, when they left O’Melveny & Myers to join Dewey. At the time, OMM was experiencing significant partner attrition — but it seems to have righted itself, while the S.S. Dewey has taken on water. So Nissan and Nugent had to move on to the good ship Goodwin.
Cooley LLP also said Tuesday that it had hired Dewey partner Lyle Roberts as a partner in its securities litigation practice in Washington.
It won’t be long before Dewey partner departures hit the triple digits.
Second, and not surprisingly, the firm’s bonds are taking a hit — although perhaps not as much as one might expect. From Bloomberg:
The turmoil at Dewey has upended the firm’s plans to find a merger partner and sent prices of its bonds reeling. The privately placed debt, issued in 2010 to refinance older bank loans and once valued at 100 cents on the dollar, were seen to trade April 27 in the 60s, said Kevin Starke, an analyst at CRT Capital Group LLC.
“If the firm reorganizes, the loan and the notes could be money good, but if it liquidates, it will come down to the valuation of accounts receivable,” he said, referring to Dewey’s bills to clients for legal services.
What kind of recovery can Dewey creditors expect? On the subject of D&L debts, here’s an interesting comment posted on a prior thread (take with the proverbial grain of salt, since this commenter is anonymous):
Is Marty [Bienenstock] really a BK lawyer? How can he or anybody else believe that JP Morgan won’t pull the line today in light of last night’s memo? $75,000,000 will be drained out of the banks before the sun sets today. I don’t know if they can meet the next payroll with that money gone. We have $125,000,000 due to the debenture holders, $300,000,000 due on pensions, a bunch due to partners for their capital accounts, who knows how much due for vendors and leases. There is probably a $700,000,000 pit that has to be filled. That’s how much the firm grossed last year. We probably have about $200,000,000 in current A/R and WIP. So exactly how does anybody think this is going to work?
Any BK lawyer knows you have to do a sources and uses analysis to see where the money will be coming from and who you need to pay. There isn’t enough money coming in and too many people who need to be paid too much money. As people check out there will be no more A/R or WIP, just lease and other liabilities.
Once the firm gets pushed into BK, as some pissed off creditors will eventually do, a trustee will go after partners for fraudulent transfers and other improper acts. Leases can be rejected. Claims can be settled. But it’s going to cost the partners. Marty connived the firm to hire him at big bucks and somehow he believes he can BS the entire world now. Nobody bought his stupid [prepackagedbankruptcy] idea and there are no takers on his most recent load of crap.
It’s no wonder we’re in this mess. There are morons running the show.
In light of the foregoing, it seems to me that 60 cents on the dollar would be a nice recovery rate. Look at the Howrey bankruptcy. According to an Am Law Daily story from March 14 of this year, one year after Howrey’s dissolution took effect, the Howrey estate had $38.3 million in total assets and liabilities that could go as high as $107 million (with Citibank alone owed $40 million). It seems unlikely that Howrey creditors will get even 50 cents on the dollar.
(But I’m not a bankruptcy lawyer, and the Am Law piece is based on information as of January 31, 2012. Feel free to correct me about the Howrey bankruptcy, in the comments — or provide additional details about Dewey, if you have them.)
Third, let’s look at the human side of this story — what it’s like to be at Dewey during these dark days. We have emails to back up some of the rumors….
The reports of this office’s demise were not greatly exaggerated. The office officially closed this past Friday, according to the San Diego Source.
This shouldn’t come as a shock. Last month, the Daily Journal reported (sub. req.):
Baker & McKenzie LLP is slated to officially close its San Diego office by the end of March, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The closure has been anticipated for the past month since a spate of recent departures put into question how much longer the firm could sustain a San Diego presence with a headcount of as few as eight attorneys and as much as 30,000 square feet of office space on the firm’s lease agreement. Recent departures included intellectual property specialists Howard Wisnia and James Conley, who left for Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo P.C., and corporate attorney Maria Sendra, who left for Jones Day.
Recruiters and consultants have downplayed the closure, saying Baker & McKenzie’s presence in the region, which had diminished over the past decade by a decrease in headcount of dozens of lawyers, was not a crucial component to the firm. The closure will bring to 69 the number of Baker offices, which staff roughly 3,800 attorneys worldwide.
If you go to the list of locations on the Baker website, you will look in vain for mention of San Diego. The office was around for quite some time; as the description that used to be on the website once stated, “For more than two decades, our San Diego office has helped businesses in Southern California and across the world seamlessly manage a broad range of complex local and cross-border transactions.”
On the bright side, it seems that many of the former Baker lawyers have found new workplaces. According to the San Diego Source, partners Colin Murray and Chuck Dick have moved over to Baker’s San Francisco office. In addition, as reported by Am Law Daily, Ali Mojdehi — former chair of Baker’s North American bankruptcy practice, and also a top partner to work for, according to Above the Law readers — has jumped over to Cooley.
So it appears that the disruption from the closing of Baker’s S.D. office has been thankfully limited. But to the extent that some lawyers and staff have not yet found new professional homes, we wish them the best of luck.
P.S. We’ve reprinted, on the next page, the former landing page for the now-shuttered San Diego office.