Locke Liddell & Sapp

We’ve been hearing rumblings about it for weeks, and now there’s something to report: Locke Lord and Edwards Wildman Palmer have signed a letter of intent to merge.

Some folks at Edwards Wildman must be breathing sighs of relief (and hoping that nothing scuttles the deal). The past year or so has been challenging for the firm. In the spring, the firm laid off 52 lawyers and staff. In 2013, the firm experienced lots of partner defections and a significant dip in gross revenue.

It’s nice to see a troubled firm get rescued through a merger — e.g., Patton Boggs — instead of suffer the fate of Dewey. What do we know about the possible Locke Lord / Edwards Wildman deal?

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Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGOur latest Eyes of the Law celebrity sighting involves a household name: former White House counsel and Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. She may not have succeeded in getting on to the SCOTUS, but apparently she has joined another D.C. institution. We received this tip from a reader yesterday:

FWIW…. Just got sworn into the D.D.C. federal bar this morning. None other than Harriet Miers was also there getting sworn in. There were about 30 of us total. Pretty weird!

First things first: what was she wearing?

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Morgan Finnegan intellectual property IP law.jpgThe law firm of Morgan & Finnegan, a leading intellectual property boutique, will be dissolving imminently, according to several sources at the firm. Some (but not all) of its lawyers, including prominent partners John Sweeney and James Gould, will join Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.

Last month, we mentioned the possibility of a merger between the two firms. It now appears that it won’t be a complete merger, but a selective acquisition of certain lawyers (a la Sonnenschein’s absorption of Thacher Proffitt & Wood attorneys when TPW dissolved). As a result, Morgan & Finnegan lawyers who aren’t offered spots on the Locke Lord life raft will be out of jobs.

John Sweeney will become the deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s New York office, while James Gould will assume the role of co-head of the intellectual property department. At least 11 other Morgan & Finnegan partners will also be making the move. Joining Locke Lord as equity partners are Matthew Blackburn, William Feiler, Peter Fill, Harry Marcus, and Steven Meyer. Coming aboard as income partners are Seth Atlas, Robert Goethals, James Hwa, John Osborne, Richard Straussman, and Andrea Wayda.

Rumors of dissolution have been swirling around Morgan & Finnegan for quite some time. Back in August, the firm engaged in staff and attorney layoffs.

As for how the word got out, something rather strange happened on Friday. An email from an anonymous address was sent to a large number of M&F associates, attaching the Locke Lord offer letters to Sweeney and Gould (posted below — but you may have seen them already, since they were in wide circulation over the weekend, sent to us by multiple correspondents). From one source:

Morgan & Finnegan is dissolving on Monday. They are sending termination letters to everyone. Then, a number of those people will receive offer letters from Locke Lord (so it is not really an acquisition).

Not everyone will get offers. A large number of staff and attorneys will be laid off on Monday. Rumor has it around 70 people. Most first years, and some other associates. Pretty much all staff. LLBL just wants the lease and some of the partners….

Interesting that [Sweeney and Gould] are making off with $1+ million apiece at the cost of most of the jobs of their employees. Needless to say, most people are disgusted. John Sweeney is the person who has kept saying that people should not worry and the firm is fine. Now he is cutting his losses and running.

More discussion — plus links to the James Gould and John Sweeney offer letters, which are an interesting read, especially if you don’t know what a lateral-partner offer letter looks like — after the jump.

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100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere’s some recent associate pay raise news from Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell (the entity formed by the merger last year of Texas-based Locke Liddell & Sapp and Chicago-based Lord Bissell & Brook):

Attached is a memo from, purportedly, the Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell (the new combined firm) management regarding associate salary increases. Despite the fact that it is being issued from the new combined firm, the memo only relates to the Locke Liddell associates and is completely silent as to raises for the Lord Bissell associates. We found this unbelievable, especially considering the new firm’s internal tag line is “One Firm, One Future.”

To put it simply, the LLS side is getting salaries increased across the board, albeit on a deferred comp scale, and the LBB side is getting nothing….

Nothing like dual compensation policies (well, at least one comp policy) for associates at the same (purported) firm!!!! That will surely make already declining morale even better.

Update: This post is the subject of a correction. See here.
Check out the memo for yourself, after the jump.

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Harriet Miers money Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPG1. Back in May, Locke Liddell & Sapp, of Houston and Dallas, and Lord, Bissell & Brook, of Chicago, announced plans to merge. Those plans have now been finalized, and the merger will take effect on October 2.
Sadly, they didn’t take our advice about that unwieldy name: the new firm will be known as Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell. More details appear in the Texas Lawyer.
2. Some readers were impressed by the ability to earn $160,000 in Connecticut, by working in the Stamford office of Paul Hastings.
Guess it was too good to last. PH is closing its Stamford office effective December 3rd. We contacted the firm for comment, and they issued this statement:

“As transactions and cases become more sophisticated and global in scope, they require large teams of attorneys and deeper resources. We have decided to consolidate our New York and Stamford offices in order to better serve our client’s growing needs.”

Paul Hastings in Stamford, RIP.
Locke Liddell and Lord, Bissell Finalize Merger [Texas Lawyer]
Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Locke Liddell + Lord Bissell

Harriet Miers money Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGPretty much every time there’s a mainstream or legal media article about associate pay raises, we’ll link to it. So of course we’re linking to this article, from the Texas Lawyer, which reports as follows:

All levels of associates at Houston- and Dallas-based Locke Liddell & Sapp may start their holiday shopping early since receiving news that their compensation just rose significantly. First- and second-year associates at the 403-lawyer firm already knew their salaries increased as of Aug 1. But, according to an Aug. 28 memo Locke Liddell managing partner Jerry Clements sent to associates, more-senior associates also are receiving pay increases retroactive to Aug. 1.

Locke Liddell first-year associates in Texas earn a $160,000 base annual salary, and second years earn $170,000. Third-years earn $172,500; fourth-years $175,000; fifth-years $180,000; sixth-years $185,000; seventh-years $190,000; and eighth-years $195,000. The firm has 138 associates in its three Texas offices.

So that’s the second half of the Locke Liddell pay raise. Back in July, we wrote about their raises for first- and second-year associates, with details for more senior classes to be determined. Consider them determined.
You can read the rest of the article, which also discusses salaries in the firm’s D.C. and New Orleans offices, over here.
All Levels of Locke Liddell Associates Getting Raises [Texas Lawyer]
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Locke Liddell Has Raised

Harriet Miers money Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGThe rumor is true. Locke Liddell & Sapp has raised salaries for first- and second-year associates. As noted by a commenter, “Now that they have Harriet Miers back, Locke Liddell’s future is blindingly bright.”
The news was reported in the Texas Lawyer. We’ve also gotten a copy of the email, sent out this afternoon by managing partner Jerry Clements (who actually isn’t a 300-pound, cigar-smoking Texan male, replete with handlebar moustache, but a rather attractive woman).
You can check out her email, plus a photo, after the jump.
As for Baker Botts in Texas, still no word, as of the time of this post. If you hear anything, please email us. Thanks.
Not to be Outdone, Locke Liddell Hikes Associate Pay [Texas Lawyer]

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harriet miers.jpgThe latest Biglaw combination brings together more “L”s than you can shake a stick at. From the Texas Lawyer:

Locke Liddell & Sapp, based in Houston and Dallas, and Chicago-based Lord, Bissell & Brook have agreed to merge, and will form a 700-lawyer firm named Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.

Hmm, that’s a mouthful — the marketing people might want to rethink things. The alliteration and internal rhyme make the firm name far too “busy.”
Correction: Based on the comments, it appears that we’re wrong about the internal rhyme. But we still think the new firm name is unwieldy.
Some reactions to more substantive aspects of the deal, after the jump.

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harriet miers.jpgThere was much speculation about where former White House counsel Harriet Miers, of the ill-fated Supreme Court nomination, would wind up.
Would Miers oversee the George W. Bush Presidential Library at her alma mater, SMU? Would she be nominated to the Fifth Circuit? Would she launch a new line of high-end eye make-up?
The suspense is now over. From the Dallas Morning News:

Ex-White House counsel and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers will rejoin her old law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, the firm announced Wednesday.

Ms. Miers had helped run the firm, based in Houston and Dallas, before joining President Bush’s staff in 2001. She will rejoin the firm’s public policy group and litigation group on May 1.

A Locke Liddell official said she will be based in Washington D.C. but also have offices in Dallas and Austin.

Congratulations, Ms. Miers!
(But why is she staying in D.C.? Why not return to her home state of Texas, home to her former lover, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht? As we previously suggested, “If she returns to Texas, she may be able to stir the embers of his passion.”)
Harriet Miers To Rejoin Locke Liddell [Dallas Morning News]

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFThe only noteworthy moves today come from Texas. Oh well, at least yesterday was busy.
Lateral Moves:
* Corporate lawyers Paul Bishop, T. Alan Harris, Annette Trip, and Don Wood, to Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (Houston), from Locke Liddell & Sapp.
* A pair of Geralds — Gerald Pels, and Gerald Higdon — to Sutherland Asbill (energy and environmental), from Locke Liddell & Sapp.
New Partners/Principals:
* Dechert (Austin): Intellectual property lawyer Steven Daniels.
* Baker & McKenzie (Dallas): Litigator Elizabeth Yingling.
Lone Star Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com]
Women on the Move [Dallas Business Journal]