The client always has more leverage but certainly, for the high-end work, the firm is calling the shots.
– Kent Zimmermann, a consultant with Zeughauser Group, commenting on the premium hourly fees charged by Biglaw attorneys in sought-after practice areas like mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, white-collar defense, and litigation.
(That’s interesting, but what were the highest and lowest rates for partners and associates in 2012? We’ve got that info, and more, after the jump.)
Complaining about air travel has become a cliché — but it’s still fun. The other night, while flying out to San Francisco for an event I’m doing on Monday (to which you’re invited), I was delayed by two and a half hours — due to a plane turned “biohazard.”
My experience — with United Airlines, which I generally like — pales in comparison to what the novelist Gary Shteyngart experienced recently with American Airlines. He wrote about in a New York Times piece that’s horrifying and hilarious.
But some folks have much warmer feelings for AA — namely, the lawyers and law firms that are making millions from the American Airlines bankruptcy case. Let’s find out how much they are seeking in fees….
It was a big win for Apple, and it came surprisingly quickly. As Elie pointed out, it would take many smart people more than three days to even understand all the the terms within the 109 pages of jury instructions. Aside from the jury itself, it seemed no one was ready for the verdict. One attorney for Apple even showed up in a polo shirt.
Let’s have a post-mortem run through of the case (and a quick-and-dirty look at the massive attorneys’ fees incurred by both sides)….
Today is a banner day for mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers. Our big brother takes note of Blackstone Group’s gigantic proposed buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest office-building owner and manager, for roughly $36 billion ($20 billion plus $16 billion in assumed debt).
And that’s not the only deal. The WSJ Law Blog ticks off three more billion-dollar transactions: Bank of America acquiring U.S. Trust, Freeport-McMoRan acquiring Phelps Dodge, and Evraz Group acquiring Oregon Steel Mills.
Biglaw shops are involved in all of these transactions. The lucky law firms: Sidley Austin, Simpson Thacher, Cleary Gottlieb, Howard Rice, Wachtell Lipton, Davis Polk, Debevoise & Plimpton, Covington & Burling, and Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt (of Oregon).
Okay, “lucky” may not be the right term for people who have probably been pulling one all-nighter after another over the past few weeks (or months). But let’s look on the bright side: the fees from these deals will be delicious. And they’re likely to mean very good associate bonuses for 2006.
How delicious? This is where you come in. For this latest edition of Legal Fee Voyeurism, we’d like to ask you for any information, rumors, or quasi-informed speculation about the fees that firms will be earning on these deals. And, of course, we’re always interested in the related subject of associate bonus scuttlebutt.
Please send any such tips our way, by email. Thanks! The Biggest LBO Ever: Does The Blackstone REIT Deal Mark the Beginning of the End of Public Companies? [DealBreaker] M&A Mania: Good for the Lawyers! [WSJ Law Blog]
We previously put out a call for juicy info about big-ticket legal fees. Consider that discovery request still pending; you haven’t given us much in response.
Instead, we have to rely upon other sources for information about fees. Like NYU law professor Burt Neuborne’s five-million-dollar tab for his work for Holocaust survivors, reported in the MSM. Or this latest news, from the AP:
Republican Rep. John Doolittle of California paid an attorney more than $38,000 in recent months to talk to the Justice Department in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, new campaign finance reports show.
A spokeswoman said the money was spent after Doolittle asked his attorney, David Barger [of Williams Mullen], to contact the Justice Department “to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”
Interesting. Barger is a very experienced lawyer and former federal prosecutor. We’re guessing he bills out at $500 an hour (at least; correct us if we’re wrong). That comes out to at least 75 hours worth of work, which is not insignificant. Clearly Barger did more than just have a two-hour sitdown with DOJ lawyers to earn almost $40K in fees.
And Barger isn’t Congressman Doolittle’s only counsel:
The campaign finance report also shows Doolittle paying $13,000 in legal fees to a second law firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, that he has used regularly for years.
Recently we asked you for juicy gossip about gigantic legal fees. We didn’t expect to receive a response so quickly. From the WSJ Law Blog:
NYU Law School professor Burt Neuborne worked for nearly eight years to help Holocaust survivors win a $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks accused of helping the Nazis steal Jewish property. He then submitted a bill for $4,760,000. The rest, as they say, is controversy.
New York magazine has a feature on the fee flap. A group of Holocaust survivors are furious with Neuborne for charging so much money for his services. Many say they thought Neuborne had taken the case pro bono and that he had said so many times. The executive director of the World Jewish Congress calls the bill a “moral disgrace.” Neuborne already made $4.4 million in a similar suit against German industry.
Last week, the New York Law Journal brought us news of this sizable transaction:
Freescale Semiconductor Inc., the third-largest chipset maker in the nation, has been acquired by a consortium of private equity groups, led by The Blackstone Group and consisting of The Carlyle Group, Texas Pacific Group and Permira Funds. The Austin, Texas company is valued at $17.6 billion; the purchasers will also pay off Freescale’s debts, amounting to $1.25 billion, making the total worth of the transaction roughly $19 billion.
Here are the firms involved in the deal, a veritable legal fee bonanza:
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom led representation for the entire consortium, while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton assisted in advising every group except Blackstone and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson counseled Permira. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented Freescale.
WOW — more law firms than you can shake a stick at. This deal’s a permanent employment act for corporate lawyers.
And Freescale isn’t the only eleven-figure transactions announced in recent weeks. It’s small potatoes compared to the $33 billion HCA buyout over the summer.
Now, the important stuff: How much did these firms earn for their work on this transaction — or any other recent transactions you’re aware of?
Unlike the (much larger) fees of investment bankers, the advisory fees of law firms in M&A deals are usually not disclosed in public filings. So if you have any reasonably informed guesses — or, better yet, actual knowledge — of the filthy lucre firms have bagged for this or other recent deals, please email us (subject line: “Legal Fee Voyeurism”). Thanks! NY Partners and Associates Working on Billion Dollar Deals [New York Law Journal]
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.