Musical Chairs

In our recent look at Texas law firms, the firm of Baker Botts placed sixth out of six surveyed firms. But there are some things cooking down there that could cause the dough to rise.

Perhaps taking advantage of the recent turmoil in the Texas offices of Weil Gotshal, Baker Botts just nabbed a lateral from WGM: Nicolas Barzoukas, an IP litigator in Houston. We don’t yet know whether other attorneys are making the same move, but it’s possible. Neither Baker Botts nor Weil responded to our requests for comment, but we do note that Barzoukas’s bio is gone from Weil’s website. (We’ve posted a cached version at the end of this story.)

So that’s the good news about Baker Botts. Now, on to the bad….

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Congratulations to Morrison & Foerster. The firm just announced the launch of its first German office, built around all nine former Berlin partners of Hogan Lovells.

MoFo’s new German team is known for its expertise in Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) transactional work. The Berlin office in the firm’s third outpost in Europe and its 17th office worldwide.

How is Hogan Lovells taking news of the departures? As the ABA Journal wondered in a headline, “Morrison & Foerster opens Berlin office; is Hogan Lovells miffed?”

It would seem the answer is ja….

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There’s no doubt about it: Weil Gotshal & Manges is the reigning drama queen of Biglaw. In June, the firm laid off 60 lawyers and 110 staffers. Last week, the firm lost eight partners to the Dallas office of Sidley Austin, including some pretty heavy hitters (and basically all of Weil’s women partners in Dallas).

Today we bring you (1) additional information about the Dallas moves and (2) a report from Weil’s Boston outpost, where some people are not happy….

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“Who shot J.R.?” That was the question that everyone (hi Mom!) was dying to know on the wildly popular prime-time soap opera of Dallas.

“Who drove out Yvette Ostolaza?” That’s the question everyone is dying to know on the wildly popular prime-time soap opera of Weil Gotshal.

Okay, “drove out” is probably not the right phrasing here, for reasons we’ll explain below. But there’s no denying that people are keenly interested in the drama surrounding the departure of eight Weil partners to Sidley Austin in Dallas.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation, shall we?

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Some of our older readers may, like me, remember the television show Dallas. This deliciously dishy, prime-time soap opera was packed with suspense, drama, and conflict.

Suspense, drama, and conflict have also haunted the high-powered law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges this year. In June, the firm conducted major layoffs, which shocked the legal world due to Weil’s profitability and prestige. In April, Weil lost some prominent litigation partners to Quinn Emanuel in D.C., amid significant controversy.

So it’s fitting that today’s juicy story comes from the Dallas office of Weil Gotshal, which just lost a slew of partners to a rival firm under interesting circumstances….

(Please note the various UPDATES added to the end of this post.)

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* Once again, Justice Ginsburg offers us some perspective on behind the scenes action at the Supreme Court. We bet you didn’t know that “Get over it” is one of Justice Scalia’s favorite expressions. [Politico]

* The chief justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court turned in his resignation papers on Friday, and rumor has it that the legendary Leo Strine will try to replace him. Best of luck, Chancellor! [Reuters]

* “I wasn’t looking for a job.” Paul Aguggia, the chairman of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, will step down to cash in as the CEO of a New Jersey bank where he served as outside counsel. [American Banker]

* This is what it’s like when bankruptcies collide: AMR Corp. is now disputing Dewey’s billables, including 1,646 hours of contractually prohibited work completed by first-year associates. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Bank of America is bleeding money in settlement payments. A $39 million payout in a Merrill Lynch gender bias case brings the total to about $200 million in under two weeks. [DealBook / New York Times]

* GW Law starts its dean search next month, and whoever takes the position needs to be good at raising funds, because the school has struggled in that department ever since Dean Berman left. [GW Hatchet]

* An Ivy League law professor tells us the third year of law school is a “crucial resource” to ensure lawyers are well-trained, so classes like “Understanding Obama” must be social imperatives. [Washington Post]

* It seems to me that the only jurors who might be influenced by the depiction of the legal system on Law & Order are the ones who were too dim to figure out how to get out of jury duty. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

David Bernick

As we mentioned earlier, prominent litigator David Bernick is leaving Boies Schiller for Dechert. Bernick joined Boies Schiller just a year ago, to much fanfare, so some were surprised to see him go so quickly.

But others were not shocked. As the always insightful Alison Frankel observed on Twitter, “Is anyone who knows David Bernick surprised he was mismatch at firm dominated by David Boies?”

Perhaps not. Some of our readers predicted this union wouldn’t last long….

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There’s some big news this week in top law school land: Boalt Hall’s Dean Christopher Edley Jr. will be stepping down from his position at the end of 2013, and as of yesterday, has taken a medical leave from his duties due to some serious health problems. Edley leaves behind one of the best law schools in the nation — one which he helped guide into the top 10 in the U.S. News law school rankings.

Edley has served as dean for nearly a decade, and he’s navigated Berkeley Law through the legal profession’s boom and bust years. Dean Daniel Rodriguez of Northwestern had this to say of Boalt’s outgoing dean: “In a period of real challenge for that great public law school — with declining state support, a creaky physical plant, some key faculty loses, and, later, myriad problems stemming from the tough job market in California and nationally — Edley provided steady, creative leadership.”

Despite its overall success, Chris Edley’s tenure as dean was not without controversy. We’ll review some of the highlights of his career at the school in a bit. But first, why is he leaving so suddenly?

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Because football is better than job stats.

* In the latest round of musical chairs, Skadden Arps managed to scoop up products liability queen and top woman litigator Lisa Gilford from Alston & Bird. Congratulations! [The Recorder (sub. req.)]

* Is merger mania a thing of the past? With pocketbooks tighter than ever, “pseudo-mergers” are starting to look great. No one will complain about more lawyers with less liability. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Man, it’d be great if you could represent plaintiffs in a class action suit and keep all of the settlement funds without having to pay your clients a cent. Oh wait, you can actually do that? [New York Times]

* “It shows he’s adventuresome and he’s got good taste.” Peter Zimroth, the lawyer appointed to oversee the reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, married very, very well. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA approved Texas A&M’s acquisition of Texas Wesleyan’s law school. Hello to the Texas A&M Johnny Football School of Law! We hope to see the Heisman of employment stats. [National Law Journal]

* A judge says the woman who sued Paula Deen for racial discrimination was nothing more than an “accidental victim.” And like that, her race-based claims have melted away like butter, y’all. [ABC News]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

From Q3 2012 through Q2 2013, we have seen approximately 7,500 lateral moves at the top 200 law firms. Approximately 4,500 (60%) were associates; 1,900 (25%) were partners; and perhaps most surprisingly, 1,100 (15%) of the lateral movement consisted of “counsel” or “of counsel” positions.

To clarify, some firms promote their senior associates to a “counsel” position based on seniority, but even excluding this pool of associates, that still leaves a significant number of counsel-level laterals finding opportunities within new law firms. From April 2012 to the end of the second quarter this year, Gordon & Rees had the largest number of lateral counsel transitions, with 34 (in large part due to the fact they opened seven offices in 2012 alone). Seyfarth Shaw, Greenberg Traurig, and Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker followed closely with 26, 23, and 22 counsel placements, respectively. Notably, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had 11 counsel transitions in that same timeframe, 8 of them from a group of more than 15 Skadden Arps product liability attorneys who followed colleagues Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo, two heavyweights in the product liability world….

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