Our 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!
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.
Here’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.
1. 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.”
Pretty 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.
The 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]
The 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.
There 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]
The 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]
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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@example.com.
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