Fifteen IP partners will be leaving Heller to join Covington, as Covington expands into Silicon Valley. The Daily Journal reports that in the wake of the latest defections and yesterday’s failed merger, Heller Ehrman has decided to stop seeking merger options:
Heller management told the firm attorneys Monday that they are going to cease merger pursuits and “try to go it alone,” the Heller attorney said. But some legal observers said this could be a sign of Heller’s imminent dissolution. Heller partners have been in clustered meetings all day, the Heller attorney said.
Guess San Francisco isn’t far enough west to escape the tough economic climate for law firms.
This should be great news for Covingtion, and you would think they would want to spread the word about their hiring coup. But apparently not. A tipster’s report on yesterday’s firm-wide meeting:
First came the ten-minute lecture regarding tipping off the blogs, and then the news about Silicon Valley. It surprises me that they were so freaked out about the spread of positive news in the scary economy.
It surprises us too. It’s hardly a bad thing if Covington’s surrogates do a better job of publicizing the firm than Covington’s own PR people.
As always, we thank all of our tipsters who are willing to sit through ten minutes of “lawyer talk” in order to bring us the latest information.
* Cyrus Mehri is ready to take on the advertising industry for its depiction, or lack thereof, of African-Americans. Dyn-o-mite! [Gawker]
* Need help picking out a work appropriate nail salon on your lunch hour? Might I suggest a partial frontal lobotomy instead? [Corporette]
* Who is going to replace financial services clients? Tech firms? Green industries? Or nobody at all? [Law and More]
* A bunch of radio talk show hosts are being sued for violating FCC obligations “by using their radio license to discuss only Republican issues.” [Overlawyered]
It seems that things have been going pretty well for Gabriel Schwartz. A 2004 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law, the 29-year-old is already the founder of a law firm, Sandomire & Schwartz. He’s president of his own company (PDF). And he was selected to be a Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention.
But, at the Convention, he went home with a random new lady-friend — and now he’s the fodder for this headline, “GOP delegate’s hotel tryst goes bad when he wakes up with $120,000 missing.” From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
He met her in the bar of the swank hotel and invited her to his room. Once there, the woman fixed the drinks and told him to get undressed.
And that, the delegate to the Republican National Convention told police, was the last thing he remembered.
When he awoke, the woman was gone, as was more than $120,000 in money, jewelry and other belongings… The haul included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a necklace valued at $5,000, earrings priced at $4,000 and a Prada belt valued at $1,000, police said.
Apparently, Denver attorneys can do pretty well. More on this bling-blinging Lawyer of the Day, after the jump.
In Monday’s morning docket, we asked whether price-gouging investigations during hurricanes were the new trend among attorneys general. Judging from the many investigations launched over the past week, the answer is a resounding YES.
Louisiana AG Buddy “Rattlesnake” Caldwell caught our attention for his battle cry against high hotel and gas prices during Hurricane Gustav. Now that Hurricane Ike has reared its ugly head, other attorneys general are joining the war, including:
South Carolina AG Henry McMaster has begun gas price-gouging investigations. [The Greenville News]
New York AG Andrew Cuomo is chilling for the moment, just “issuing warnings” about high gas prices. [investigating gas prices and filed suit against a Comfort Inn for doubling the cost of rooms during Hurricane Dolly. [MSNBC]
John Lott at Fox News does not think the AGs are fighting the good fight:
You would think that people had learned their lessons about price controls during the 1970s, though memories have surely faded. Price controls didn’t stop the cost of gasoline from rising. They just changed how we paid for them. Instead of prices rising until the amount people wanted equaled the amount available, chronic shortages of gasoline had Americans waiting in lines for hours. Yet, the supposedly permanent shortages disappeared instantly as soon as price controls were removed.
But AGs are responsible for ensuring the law is enforced, not analyzing economic systems. So investigate and sue away, noble attorneys general! And if your AG isn’t following the trend, what’s up with that?
Though the dust has far from settled, it’s time for ATL to hand out some awards to the law firms and other participants that have done well for themselves, or wet the bed, as Wall Street runs with blood.
Weil will be Lehman’s bankruptcy counsel, and they’ve been in talks with AIG. It’s not Weil’s fault that other people’s losses are Weil’s immeasurable gains. When Weil is tapping you on the shoulder, your time is almost up.
We echo our commenters in asking, “Where the heck is Skadden in all this?” Good question. Better question: which Skadden partner is the point person on BoA business and how many people have rented space under his or her desk in the past 48 hours?
We recently offered some helpful hints for new law students, distilled from over 200 reader suggestions. We now have an addendum to our list of tips, based on an ill-advised email that found its way into our inbox. Some background:
Today, all members of last year’s Law Review Editorial Board at [George Washington University Law School] — who have since graduated — received the unsolicited mass email (reproduced below) from a current 1L student whom no one knows or has even met….
Talk about a great example of what not to do as a 1L. What a way to endear yourself to your new classmates, not even a month into the school year! Can you say G-U-N-N-E-R?
We received a very interesting offer letter for the 2009 summer class sent out by Proskauer Rose:
Our compensation level for next summer has not yet been set, but it will be no less than $3,077 per week – the salary that we paid to those summer associates who were with us in New York this past summer.
This is most likely just a clumsily worded invitation to summer with the firm. This may well be their standard form letter for offers that they’ve used since 2007 and haven’t bothered to update.
But consider two other possibilities:
1) Isn’t Proskauer, like everyone else, looking to cut back on expenses where possible? Why would they lock themselves into $3,077 unless they thought that they could make cuts somewhere else along the way? What other factors could possibly come into play to push summer compensation higher than it was last year? Unless …
2) Does Proskauer seriously think they might be able to raise salaries next year? Are they trying to signal to the market that they could be in a position to raise salaries if need be?
Proskauer has already set a price floor, but hasn’t set a price ceiling. Why would they do that? If they are just using standard language from the past, they really should consider updating their offer letters and stop messing with people’s emotions.
It wasn’t long ago that both associates and partners regarded moving in-house as a “golden ticket.” Better hours, comparable pay, and a sweet “Executive Vice-President” title.
Now? Ask former firm lawyers who went over to Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill, or WaMu how their new gigs are working out. For that matter, ask attorneys at JPMorgan Chase, BoA, or Barclays how secure they feel about their jobs.
As financial services firms break up and merge, what happens to the in-house attorneys caught up in the mix?
Much of the value from in-house counsel comes from keeping as much work off the big firm plate as possible. It’s a volume business. When trading is tepid and profits non-existent, businesspeople often turn a greedy eye to in-house attorney salaries. Remember, it’s not like the businesspeople really like the lawyers hanging around anyway. It’s more of a “you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall” type of situation.
But should an in-house attorney get laid off, how easy is it for them to get back into the Biglaw pipeline? Are firms going to be interested in hiring corporate attorneys with years of expertise in business platforms that are no longer viable?
If you can’t go in-house, what exit options remain for Biglaw corporate associates? Litigators can always go litigate somewhere. There are lots of frivolous lawsuits just begging to be filed (and defended against). But for corporate attorneys, are you better off just keeping your head down and doing your best to ride out the storm?
Alternative career resolution ideas are welcome in the comments.
What do you do when your biggest client gets sold to a bunch of guys from North Carolina? What can you do other than keep cool?
While Sidley Austin declined to comment to ATL on the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America merger, they did send around an internal memo to their associates. Sidley essentially told their people: “DON’T PANIC!!!!!!!!!”
Apparently, the firm opened up their books to show the percentage of their business that comes from the companies affected by the yesterday’s meltdown. Merrill Lynch represents well less than 10 percent of the firm’s overall business, so they think they should be fine.
All of the messages we are hearing from Sidley associates reflect the same theme. People are interested, but as one tipster put it, “nobody is freaking out just yet.”
But is that a minority opinion or a consensus feeling? How are you Sidley associates feeling this morning?
* Judge James Peck, the second-most junior bankruptcy judge in Manhattan, will handle the Lehman case, the biggest bankruptcy in history. [Bloomberg]
* No vroom for snowmobiles in the national parks, rules Judge Emmet Sullivan. [New York Times]
* First day of the O.J. Simpson robbery trial. But people are already totally over it. No crowds were there to greet O.J. and friends, just a man holding a “Jesus saves sinners from hell” sign. [Los Angeles Times]
* Former ATL “Lawyer” of the Day, Howard Kieffer, will not defend himself in his lawyer impersonation trial. [Associated Press]
* Manhattan restaurant owner + $5,000 designer umbrella + negligent supermodel = a fed-up judge. New York Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden fines attorney $500 for filing a frivolous claim and wasting judicial resources. [Associated Press]
Could it be? A message for ATL from Paul Clement, the 43rd Solicitor General of the United States?
(It’s not completely out of the question. We have written about Clement a fair amount, and we have also met him in person.)
The lowercase type for his name seemed a little odd. But some very prominent attorneys, like John Quinn of Quinn Emanuel, use lowercase type for email messages. Based on the subject line, “Order,” we guessed that perhaps the former SG wanted to share a funny court order with us.
Read the message from Paul Clement, after the jump.
As you are aware, the firm has been exploring the possibility of a merger with Heller Ehrman. After careful consideration, we have decided not to pursue that course.
Heller Ehrman is a fine firm with outstanding lawyers. Like us, they have a long heritage of excellence in their work and service to clients. A merger with them would have offered potential benefits for both firms and our clients. In the end, however, various issues, including client and practice conflicts, could not be resolved, and we have ended our discussions.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.