Musical Chairs

Richard Revesz

Big news in the land of top law schools: NYU Law School Dean Richard Revesz will be stepping down from his position at the end of the academic year. Revesz most recently revamped NYU’s 3L curriculum. He leaves behind one of the best law schools in the nation (and some swanky faculty housing).

As David Lat just put it to me over Gchat, “Revesz has been there for ten years and he has seen it all — the boom and the bust of the legal profession.” As a current NYU student wrote to us, Revesz leaves “big shoes to fill, and I just hope that the next dean is just as successful at keeping our amazing professors here and attracting top-flight talent from other schools. His record on both counts has been superb.”

Despite its overall success, Ricky Revesz’s tenure was not without controversy. Let’s review some highlights (along with some UPDATES), after the jump….

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Yesterday, we wrote about Patrick Shields, the Quinn Emanuel partner who mysteriously vanished from the firm’s web site, with, as far as we could discern, nothing more than plans for an extended Irish vacation.

What the heck happened?

Well, it turns out Shields’s story is quite simple and a reflection of something most of us have felt at one time or another. Namely: burnout.

We heard from a tipster familiar with Shields’s situation, who explained to us how burnout led the star IP litigator to do the “coolest thing possible”…

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Over the past several months, Quinn Emanuel has been in the news for representing Samsung in its tense — and seemingly never-ending — intellectual property war with Apple. The firm has scored some major victories against Apple overseas, but on the home front, Samsung lost that little jury verdict some of you may remember — to the tune of $1 billion.

Through Quinn, Samsung is currently working through the appeals process. But last week, we also caught wind of another mysterious motion in the case. A QE partner suddenly requested to withdraw as counsel from the case. Judge Lucy Koh approved the motion, and within a few days the partner had disappeared from the firm website.

What’s going on here?

Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.

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Patrick Fitzgerald

When renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down as U.S. Attorney in Chicago, he reacted skeptically to the suggestion that he join the dark side jump over to private practice and become a defense lawyer. When asked about this at a press conference regarding his departure, he quipped, “Can you see me as a defense attorney?”

Well, pooh-poohing something isn’t the same as rejecting it out of hand. Yesterday brought news that Pat Fitzgerald will be entering private practice after all.

So which Biglaw firm just landed this big fish?

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Our coverage of lateral partner moves is admittedly somewhat idiosyncratic. To be honest, we tend to be most interested in lateral moves when we can be the ones to break the news, in advance of any official announcement.

(For moves where we aren’t first, we tend to be more discriminating and write up only the most major ones. So if you’d like us to cover some notable partners joining your firm, please email us well before you send out your press release, and give us the scoop.)

Today we bring you news of partner moves from the Lone Star State. Some seven partners are leaving the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone. Who are they, and where are they going?

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Peter Kalis

As we head into the weekend, we’re happy to bring you additional commentary from Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates. Earlier this week, the colorful Kalis was unanimously reelected to his leadership role by the 60 voting members of the Management Committee.

The delightfully opinionated Kalis recently gave an interview to Am Law Daily, in which he shed additional light on the state of K&L Gates. His remarks weren’t as forceful as the beatdown he administered to the firm’s anonymous detractors last week, but they are interesting….

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Peter Kalis: hail to the chief!

Much like the similarly named Kelis, his milkshake brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard. Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, just won a fifth consecutive term at the helm of the global mega-firm. As noted in the firm’s press release, which we received here at Above the Law, the 60 voting members of the Management Committee supported Kalis unanimously.

Kalis assumed leadership of the firm in 1997, back when it was called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. On Kalis’s watch, the firm conducted eight mergers, including the combination with Preston Gates & Ellis that resulted in the “K&L Gates” moniker. When Kalis took the helm, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart was a regional firm with six offices, all in the Eastern time zone of the United States. Now K&L Gates boasts almost 2,000 lawyers in 41 offices on four continents.

But growth brings with it growing pains. Let’s discuss those, and get some information about partner capital contributions at the firm….

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Now this is how you handle negative rumors about your firm.

As we mentioned last night, in the past week or so we’ve seen media reports of possible trouble at K&L Gates. Stories in Law360 and Crain’s Chicago Business speculated about “an alarming rate” of partner departures and “attorneys increasingly los[ing] faith in the firm’s leadership and strict compensation policies.”

The chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, Peter J. Kalis, isn’t taking all this sitting down. Very early this morning, the famously outspoken Kalis sent around a firm-wide memo that powerfully refutes some of the claims made about the firm.

If you’re at all involved in law firm management, you should read it. The Kalis email offers a master class in how to thoroughly respond to negative rumors….

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On multiple days over the past week or so, one of the top ten search terms bringing visitors to Above the Law has been K&L Gates. For whatever reason, people seem keenly interested in what’s going on right now at this major international law firm.

(But maybe we shouldn’t read too much into such queries. Also in the top ten search engine terms: “pictures of tacos.”)

So what is going on at K&L Gates? A significant amount of partner attrition, as various news outlets have recently pointed out….

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The last winner of our esteemed Comment of the Week contest was rewarded for bringing some Oscar-winning gravitas to an already serious issue. Namely, the oft-crushing weight of student loans.

There’s always time for serious business, but sometimes we appreciate astute observations of minute, easily-overlooked details. (As Mitch Hedberg would have said, “What the f**k is a sesame?”) And our newest Commenter of the Week winner uncovered a similarly amusing logic problem in a former Sidley Austin associate’s book about his adopted K9….

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