In case you hadn’t heard, Wall Street is in meltdown mode right now. Our colleagues over at Dealbreaker have been working over the weekend and around the clock to cover all the latest developments.
Here are the two big stories from the financial world. First, the top-level parent company of Lehman Brothers, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (But no sleeping in for Lehmanites; they have been informed that they’re still expected to show up to work this morning.)
Second, Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that some feared might be next to go down the Bear Stearns / Lehman Brothers path, has reached a deal to sell itself to Bank of America, for $50 billion.
What do these deals mean for lawyers? Well, at least in the short term, they bring good news: more work. (Over the long term, of course, the news may be less good, as current and potential future clients vanish from the landscape on Wall Street.)
For its bankruptcy, Lehman is turning to Weil Gotshal & Manges, long known for its top-notch bankruptcy practice. From Dealbook:
Lehman has hired Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the law firm that handled Drexel [Burnham Lambert]‘s bankruptcy filing [in 1990]. Harvey Miller, the head of Weil’s restructuring practice, is known as one of the deans of the bankruptcy bar.
In addition, Lehman is trying to sell its more valuable assets, including its broker-dealer and asset-management operations. It appears to be represented in those efforts by Sullivan & Cromwell, according to TheDeal.com (subscription). Meanwhile, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a powerhouse in financial-institutions M&A, is getting a piece of the action on the Merrill deal. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Merrill / B of A deal was hammered out in “a marathon series of meetings at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the law firm which has long represented Bank of America in its deals.” Wachtell isn’t lending out their offices for free. As TheDeal.com reports, WLRK is indeed representing Bank of America in the transaction (for a fee that will be well into the eight figures — Ed Herlihy doesn’t come cheap). Merrill Lynch is being advised by Shearman & Sterling.
If you’re aware of other winners and losers from these deals, please share what you know, in the comments. Lehman Announces Bankruptcy Filing For Holding Company [Dealbreaker] Bank of America Reaches Deal To Buy Merrill Lynch [Dealbreaker] What a Lehman Bankruptcy Filing Might Look Like [DealBook] Bank of America to Buy Merrill [Wall Street Journal]
JPMorgan and Bear were prompted to renegotiate after shareholders began threatening to block the deal and it emerged that several “mistakes” were included in the original, hastily written contract, according to people involved in the talks.
One sentence was “inadvertently included,” according to a person briefed on the talks, which requires JPMorgan to guarantee Bear’s trades even if shareholders voted down the deal. That provision could allow Bear’s shareholders to seek a higher bid while still forcing JPMorgan to honor its guarantee, these people said.
When the error was discovered, James Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who was described by one participant as “apoplectic,” began calling his lawyers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to seek a way to have the sentence modified, these people said. Finger pointing over the mistakes in the contracts began as bankers blamed the lawyers and vice versa.
* New accounting rules for M&A. [DealBook]
* Lilly contemplates $1 billion payment to settle civil and criminal investigations relating to its marketing of Zyprexa. [New York Times]
* NYPD officer accused of pimping child. [MSNBC]
* Ex-priest jailed for murder via exorcism. [CNN]
* Indiana man arrested for making his own crosswalk. [The Indy Channel]
* Nader takes steps toward another run for the presidency in 2008. [Bloomberg]
“Because Lateral Link does no cold-calling and is more efficient than traditional recruiting firms, successful candidates receive $10,000 upon placement.”
Position: M&A Associate (Media) Description: This highly sought after media and advertising law firm is seeking a mid-level associate with a strong M&A background to work on media and advertising-related deals. Work primarily involves private transactions, but will have the occasional public transaction.
Founded over hundred years ago, this firm is renowned as the top marketing communications law firm in the world, representing four of the largest advertising agency holding companies. The firm is remarkable in the fact that it maintains worldwide leadership in a key field of law with only 100 attorneys, based in a single office in New York City. Having grown from less than 40 attorneys in the 1990s, the firm serves clients in a full range of practice areas, including corporate governance, litigation, M&A, employment practices and executive benefits and compensation, intellectual property, new media, real estate, taxation and estate planning. The firm also enjoys a sterling reputation among not only its major advertising and marketing communications clients, but among its attorneys as well. The firm has a one-to-one partner to associate ratio and is regarded as an unusually rewarding, reinforcing and humane place to work. Position Requirements: Four to six years of experience. M&A background, top credentials, good personality.
To apply for this position, or to learn about other career opportunities, please visit laterallink.com. Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)
Here is a snapshot of more than 100 people who make up the next generation of deal makers, everyone 40 years old or younger and linked by where they went to college (and chosen based on dozens of interviews). Think of the list as a Facebook of Wall Street’s future.
This is not an exhaustive inventory of all the up-and-comers on Wall Street, where new faces constantly come up with the next clever idea. But it demonstrates the power of certain schools as career starting points.
In terms of law schools — there are lots of business schools on the chart, too — the “certain schools” include Harvard, NYU, Georgetown, and Penn (among others; these four seem to have the most graduates on the map — 6, 6, 4, and 4, respectively). Correction: Oops, sorry (and thanks to this commenter for pointing out our error). Columbia Law School has 7 featured alums. CLS, holla!
It’s tough to escape “tier-ism,” even when you move from the heart of the legal world to the point where it overlaps with the deal world. But do take note of the large area at the center of the illustration for people with “No Graduate Degrees.”
Some of the names on the map will be familiar to ATL readers. A few shout-outs, after the jump.
As some of you have noticed, we have an article in today’s New York Times, in the DealBook Special Section. It’s about fee arrangements in the (highly lucrative) context of mergers-and-acquisitions work. Here’s a teaser:
For some firms, billable hours are just the beginning. As the boom rolled on, law firms specializing in mergers and acquisitions increasingly engaged in premium billing, charging fees in excess of their total hourly billings. Think of it as a tip for good work. Whether a client pays a premium depends upon its satisfaction with the result, the size and complexity of the transaction, and the nature and length of the attorney-client relationship.
But since the credit market began to tighten this summer, an event that brought new deals to a crawl and has upset several old ones, many lawyers have been wondering whether the premium party is over…
And here’s one of the more juicy portions:
One firm, though, has moved beyond billable hours to the flat fee preferred by bankers: Wachtell, Lipton. A former Wachtell lawyer described a typical bill as follows: “There’s a paragraph stating something like, ‘For legal services rendered in connection with Transaction X,’ then a dot leader, then a number followed by six zeros.” He said he worked on some deals where Wachtell was paid more than the bankers.
Wachtell charged a flat fee when it advised the Bancroft family, which controlled Dow Jones & Company, during the $5 billion bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation For its work on the deal, Wachtell first submitted a bill for $10 million.
We should have written about this earlier — in fact, weeks earlier, since it has been up since early August. But sometimes things fall through the cracks, emails get caught in our spam filter, etc. Anyway, better late than never.
From a helpful reader:
check out this blog. it’s sort of a one trick pony, but its good for a laugh and is pretty out there. as a wlrk alum, figured you would get a kick out of it. thanks.
We agree — it’s funny and bizarre. From the inaugural post of The Poison Pill:
This blog is devoted to our hero and idol, corporate law phenom Martin Lipton. Mr. Lipton, name partner in the prestigious and venerable firm Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, has been practicing law since the mid-1960′s after he graduated from NYU law school, and is considered by most in the industry to be the “dean” of the M&A bar. This legendary advocate is most famous in legal circles for inventing the “poison pill,” a takeover defense now used by virtually all public companies to delay and deter hostile tender offers and other solicited acquisitions.
That’s right, you heard me–not only is Mr. Lipton a skilled and accomplished lawyer, he is an inventor as well. We also hear that he is a marvelous ballroom dancer, but have yet to receive confirmation on this point.
People in the offices of both Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb have been gossiping about a possible merger between their firms.
Here’s some circumstantial evidence in support of the rumors. If you go to Whois.Net and enter the domain name DeweyLeBoeuf.com, you get this info:
We have a call and an email in to Michael Groll. We’ll let you know if and when we hear back from him. Update: Might this be a practical joke, as one commenter suggests? Quite possibly. That’s why we’ve reached out to Mr. Groll for comment. Further Update (4:45 PM): No, this is the real deal. About an hour after our post went up, the WSJ Law Blog chimed in with this write-up: “LeBoeuf Lamb and Dewey Ballantine are in merger talks, with an announcement of a deal expected as early as Monday, according to people familiar with the situation.” Further Further Update (8/25/07): The New York Times has an article on the merger talks here.
More discussion, plus links, after the jump.
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.
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…