The cutting-edge information and security practice of Hunton & Williams is getting the firm lots of media attention these days — but not of the positive variety. The firm’s lawyers are getting coverage due to their information becoming insecure after a hacktivist group leaked emails they exchanged with security firm HBGary.
Last night, the firm’s logo was flashed several times on the Colbert Report, as Stephen Colbert named the firm as the link between the DOJ, HBGary, and Bank of America, in coming up with questionable tactics for undermining liberal activists. (See our prior post, Hunton & Williams Gets WikiLeaked.)
What is most significant here is that you have these plans that are clearly crossing a legal line, with very serious players involved. Law firms like Hunton & Williams are the most powerful in D.C. And no one at any point said, “Maybe this goes a little too far, maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.” So willing to cavalierly to put a plan like this that clearly proposes illegal steps down on paper. It clearly shows that this sort of stuff in this world of corporate and government consortium of power is pretty normal, is par for the course.
Moral of the show: BigLaw + BigGov = Evil. Check out Colbert’s telling of the “techno thriller” tale (after the jump). Think Star Wars, with Bank of America as Darth Vader, HBGary and Hunton & Williams as commanders of the Imperial Forces, WikiLeaks as Princess Leia, and Anonymous as Han Solo….
A report surfaced yesterday claiming that Howrey has now more or less given itself an end date: March 1, according to the report on Shark Tank Legal.
Partners who have received offers to join Winston & Strawn are expected to accept them by March 1st. After that, Howrey will be in full dissolution mode.
Even Howrey people must want this thing to just be over already. But before the end, we could see more ugliness, like segregated floors to keep the partners with safe landing spots safe from their desperate colleagues…
Hunton & Williams is having an uncomfortable week, and will get its very own page in the WikiLeaks saga. Thanks to a feud between hacktivist group Anonymous and a security firm, emails that Hunton lawyers exchanged with that security firm were leaked in a major document dump last week.
Journalist (and lawyer) Glenn Greenwald of Salon is now calling the firm’s lawyers the “central cogs” in a devious plot to take down WikiLeaks and its supporters (he’s especially miffed as he was named in a secret PowerPoint as one of those supporters). The New York Times named Hunton as the intermediary between security firms offering up unseemly sabotage tactics and clients like Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
So how unseemly were these alleged tactics, and which Hunton partners are getting blasted by the press?
After all, there are fewer partners for Howrey to lose with each passing day, as the Howrey lawyer diaspora continues to grow. Let’s review the recent activity — and discuss some possible future defections.
Other outlets have noted additional partner departures. K.T. “Sunny” Cherian, described by The Recorder as a “top IP litigation rainmaker” with a book of business worth more than $10 million, joined the San Francisco office of Hogan Lovells this past weekend. Four other partners will join him in soaking up the Ho-Love: John Hamann, Sarah Jalali, Constance Ramos, and Scott Wales (who had been the hiring partner for Howrey’s S.F. office).
Also in S.F., Pillsbury Winthrop picked up IP partner Duane Mathiowetz. The news was reported by the Daily Journal (subscription), which noted that Mathiowetz, who worked as a mechanical engineer for a decade before going into law, has taken five patent cases to trial in the past five years (winning four).
Who might be the next to leave Howrey? Here’s some speculation….
I’m just remembering the line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm — “Four legs good, two legs bad!”
Thirty years ago, law firms took pride in having only homegrown partners: “Homegrown good, laterals bad!” There was a certain logic to that. If you’d worked with a lawyer from his first day out of law school or a clerkship and seen the lawyer progress in the law, then after six (or eight, or ten) years, you had a pretty good sense of that human being, both as a person and as a lawyer. When you made a partnership decision, you could be fairly comfortable that you were working from a decent base of knowledge.
Law firms knew this, and they flaunted it.
Places bragged that all (or nearly all) partners were homegrown. Firms tried to convince their lawyers to stay put. (In 1979, one former Cravath lawyer told me that the firm had a mantra, “You only leave Cravath once.” There was no going home again.) Firms didn’t hire laterals, and firms bragged about it: “Homegrown good, laterals bad!”
That was then; now is now. Based on where I sit, on the receiving end of many law firm marketing communications, times have changed….
It’s a pretty amazing tribute. One of the knocks on making it big in Biglaw are the family life sacrifices. But if his son’s words are any indication, Joe Flom attained that elusive “work/life balance”….
This shouldn’t come as a shock: Skadden is paying spring bonuses. And it’s doing so on the top-of-the-market Cravath scale. Yay!
According to a memorandum sent to the Skadden Arps partnership by email this morning — before 8 a.m., so prior to the Davis Polk announcement — the firm was originally planning to match market for the most junior ($2,500) and most senior ($20,000) associate classes. As for mid-level associates, it was going to split the difference between the Cravath scale and the Sullivan & Cromwell scale: “We are planning a mid-level associate bonus range which is somewhat higher than the general pack, but not the highest levels currently announced.”
But then came the Davis Polk announcement, at around 10:30 a.m., in which DPW went with the Cravath scale. And now Skadden has too.
Did the Davis decision change the thinking at Four Times Square? Let’s look at the memos….
This week has been fairly quiet in terms of news about the troubled Howrey law firm. A post over at the Howrey Doody Time blog — with a brilliant punny title (wish I had thought of it myself) — describes the current state of affairs as “a painful holding pattern.”
Well, this morning we do have some Howrey news to report. Above the Law has learned that IP partner Mark Whitaker is leaving the D.C. office of Howrey, his professional home for the past decade or so, to join Baker Botts.
“He’s going to Baker Botts to be the 337 guy,” said a source, referring to Section 337 (19 U.S.C. § 1337), which governs fast-track intellectual property litigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC). “He has a very nice stable of clients he has developed independent of Howrey.”
The hiring of Mark Whitaker — described to us as a “great, great guy,” as well as a former Navy officer (like fellow Howrey partner Richard Beckler) — is a nice coup for Baker Botts, since § 337 expertise is an in-demand area. And luckily for Whitaker, the move won’t mess with his commute: both Howrey and Baker are in the Warner Building, at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We understand that Whitaker was part of the group of Howrey partners invited to joinWinston & Strawn, but he had other plans underway when the Winston talks were announced. His departure from Howrey comes just a few days after WilmerHale’sannouncement that it was picking up another noted Howrey IP litigator, Robert Galvin (in Palo Alto).
So that’s the latest Howrey partner news. What’s going on with associates and staff?
This column comes from a narrow perspective — that of a litigator and, in particular, an in-house head of litigation.
I suspect that in-house SEC lawyers, or M&A lawyers, may have entirely different perspectives on this topic. But as a litigator, I pay a lot of attention to briefs and other written work. Why is that?
Because I can.
When I was a partner at a firm, I’d let junior lawyers argue motions. For significant matters, I’d chat with the lawyers beforehand, to discuss how to approach an argument. But I almost never attended those arguments. Maybe I should have (for reasons of associate training and evaluation), but I generally viewed sending myself as an observer to be over-staffing an event. I thus rarely saw associates on their feet in court.
I also didn’t double-staff depositions. In mass torts (which was a lot of my practice, way back when), senior lawyers typically defended depositions, and more junior lawyers typically took them. This is partly driven by the nature of mass torts; in that environment, deposition defense is critical. If the senior VP of research and development gets her clock cleaned in deposition, that testimony will come back to haunt the client in hundreds of later cases. In mass torts, senior lawyers play deposition defense….
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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