Mergers and Acquisitions

Joe Borstein

Since the launch of alt.legal, Ed and I have received a lot of very interesting emails and feedback. It is apparent that many of you read ATL literally all day love working in Biglaw, but most many have considered taking a walk onto the alternative side (sounds far more erotic than it is).

What we hope to prove to you through this ongoing column is that legal entrepreneurship is exciting, prestigious, lucrative, and, most importantly — to the many resilient lawyers out there who have remained idealistic in the face of back-to-back all-nighters — your best chance to change the legal system for the better. Moreover, despite what you think, innovation in the law is NOT just in e-discovery. Turns out, there are problems worth solving associated with almost every practice, and with each, there are entrepreneurs and innovators ready to change the game. (My co-author, Ed Sohn, is planning to write more on this underground world next time.)

Today, we profile one such entrepreneur, Adam Nguyen, who saw inefficiencies in the always-exciting process of contract review for due diligence (hey litigators, it turns out M&A lawyers have to do document review too), and leveraged $150,000 worth of Harvard Law-branded problem solving to create an innovative technology solution called eBrevia.

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Burger King bounty for Biglaw.

* Judge Posner dished out a whole lot of benchslaps at yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on same-sex marriage. [BuzzFeed]

* Major U.S. and Canadian law firms chow down on Burger King’s whopper of a deal with Tim Hortons. [Am Law Daily]

* A recent Delaware court ruling on attorney-client privilege might allow in-house lawyers to speak more freely about wrongdoing at their companies, according to Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The corruption trial of former Virginia governor continues; yesterday Bob McDonnell’s sister took the stand. [Washington Post]

* A favorable evidentiary ruling for Aaron Hernandez. [Fox Sports]

* And good news for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, the two law professors running for governor and lieutenant governor of New York: the Times dissed their opponent, Andrew Cuomo, with a non-endorsement. [New York Times]

* I recently spoke with one of my cousins Joao Atienza of the Cebu Sun Star, about Above the Law and the world of legal blogging. [Cebu Sun Star]

* Utah appealed its same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, making it the first state whose law was smacked down by an appellate court to do so. Let the countdown begin. [National Law Journal]

* In the ruling that saved Alabama’s abortion clinics, Judge Myron Thompson likened the right to have an abortion to the right to bear arms. We can think of a few people who would take issue with that. [CNN]

* In case you’ve been wondering why tax inversions are hot right now, you can blame it all on some bicycling tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden — call them bikedudes at law, if you will. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Law schools tout the fact that their graduates are finding jobs in “J.D. Advantage” positions. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much of an advantage a law degree actually offers in these jobs. [Am Law Daily]

* In a lawsuit peppered with crazy allegations, a law prof at Florida A&M claims in a gender discrimination complaint that male professors are “paid considerably more” than female professors. [Tampa Tribune]

Every now and then you forget that Capitol Hill interns are the absolute worst. Unless you live in Washington, D.C. In that case, these type-A Tracy Flicks are always around to give your already douchetastic bars that extra drop of vinegar. It’s not just that these proto-gunners won’t stop talking about their overinflated sense of the long-term legacy their ability to alphabetize will have on tax reform, it’s that they do this while surrounded by other D.C. professionals who actually make a difference want to talk about how much more alphabetizing they’ve done in their careers.

On some level you want to appreciate their eager spirits. It reminds you of the hopes and dreams you had before the weight of the world crushed you. But then other times their shameless sense of self-worth reminds you that politics is a narcissist’s game. Even if the narcissist is well-meaning, like I presume most interns are. Like when you get a tweet like this one from Yahoo’s Chris Moody:

I’m not gonna snark on this Hill summer intern. More power to him.

So apparently Moody is getting his passive-aggressive on by telling his 22K followers all about how he’s not going to snark on the snarkworthy link he’s sending. Moody would have made a great lawyer.

Well, what did this intern do? Did he make a cheesy webpage about himself explaining how he’s going to president?

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I want business that gives me a splitting headache to do, because I know that work is not going to be commoditized.

George Bason Jr., global co-head of Davis Polk’s mergers and acquisitions practice, commenting on the complicated transactions he prefers to work on. Bason’s attractive firm recently tied for fourth place with Cleary Gottlieb in Dealogic’s ranking of deals by dollar values in the first half of 2014.

Clients are in the driver’s seat these days. Lawyers, even partners at prestigious and profitable firms, must bow and scrape before in-house counsel to land engagements.

It won’t be long before beauty contests actually include, well, beauty contests. What rainmaker worth his or her salt wouldn’t strip down to a swimsuit if required to do so as a condition of being hired? (Assuming that seeing the lawyer in swimwear would actually appeal to the client, that is.)

Not long ago, some Biglaw partners had to humiliate themselves in order to land a major matter. What did they have to do for the deal?

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If you plan to work in Biglaw, you know it’s likely you’ll be able to command a very high hourly rate. Just how high we’re talking, though, depends on the area of law in which you choose to practice.

We already knew that litigators handling bet-the-company cases collected nice fees — in some instances up to $1,500 per hour — but there are other practice groups that rake in crazy cash, too.

Keep reading to find out where you’ll be able to make the most bank in Biglaw…

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* Justice Scalia criticized law schools. Here come the butthurt law schools. [Legal Times]

* Cass Sunstein on Rand Paul’s real father — Richard Epstein. [New Republic via PrawfsBlawg]

* Irony alert: Rick Santorum endorsed the judge who just legalized gay marriage in Pennsylvania. [Slate]

* What do you know? Donald Sterling is a dick. [Los Angeles Times]

* A follow-up on a previous item: does this look like a law student kneed so hard he lost a testicle? [Barstool Sports]

* In a development that should shock no one, it turns out the Chinese hackers may have been turning their attention to infiltrating law firms “which hold valuable intellectual property for their clients but often lack the security defenses of a larger corporation.” [Bits / New York Times]

* Model suing hair salon for $1.5 million for ruining her career. That sounds funny, but the story is actually kind of horrifying. [New York Post]

* Are we looking at an M&A boom in 2014? Frank Aquila of S&C thinks so. After the jump… [Mimesis Law]

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455 Central Park West

At the corner of Central Park West and West 106th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, you’ll find a very distinctive building: 455 Central Park West. The luxury condominium building consists of an elegant French Renaissance chateau — a former hospital, actually — attached to a 26-story tower.

It’s a magnificent building, combining the best of the old and the new. Its beautiful apartments have been used as weapons in the law school faculty recruitment wars.

On Friday night, however, 455 CPW was the site of tragedy. A prominent M&A partner at a top law firm jumped from his 22nd-floor apartment to his death.

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The Houston legal market is hot — and a lot of the heat is being generated by Kirkland & Ellis. As we reported last month, K&E recently launched a Houston office with talent poached from a rival.

Kirkland hired Andrew Calder away from Simpson Thacher, for a reported $5 million a year for the next three-plus years. We’ve heard that these figures are a bit high — that he’s hitting the $5 million mark in his first year, thanks to a signing bonus, but not guaranteed at that level for the subsequent years — but there’s no denying that he’s being paid very, very well.

And there’s no denying that K&E will pay what it takes to break into the Houston market. Who’s the latest up-and-coming young partner to get invited into the Kirkland club?

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