Albert Togut: man with a plan (of reorganization).
Maybe the floundering firm of Patton Boggs can actually right itself. It doesn’t have the Biglaw mark of Cain, namely, a name that lends itself to bad puns — e.g., Dewey and “do we,” Howrey and “how are we,” and Thelen (rhymes with “feelin’”). In hindsight, Patton Boggs did the right thing when it dropped George Blow’s name from the marquee and went from “Patton Boggs & Blow” — a name we would have had a field day with — to simply “Patton Boggs.”
(Yes, Patton Boggs has some pun potential. But there are only so many “bogs down” and swamp-related plays on words to be had. Yes, even for us.)
Luckily, for the time being we can use some “Dewey” puns. Because Patton Boggs, for whatever reason, is using all of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s old advisers….
For those of you who haven’t tuned out Jarndyce v. JarndyceChevron Corp. v. Donziger, the never-ending litigation between oil giant Chevron and plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger, today brings some news. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who have been following the case, but Judge Lewis Kaplan (S.D.N.Y.) just ruled in favor of Chevron, enjoining Donziger and his Ecuadorean-villager clients from trying to enforce here in the United States the multi-billion-dollar pollution judgment they secured against Chevron in Ecuador — a judgment that was the result of fraud, according to Judge Kaplan. (Links to coverage and to the parties’ reactions to the ruling appear at the end of this post.)
The Chevron/Ecuador case is one of those matters that’s most interesting to those who are actually involved in it; to the rest of us, it’s a lot of noise. Speaking for myself, I’m interested in only two aspects of it: (1) its impact on the revenue and profit of Gibson Dunn, which has been litigating the case aggressively on behalf of Chevron, and (2) its meaning for the deeply troubled law firm of Patton Boggs, which made the ill-advised decision to align itself with the Ecuadorean village people.
In a media call this afternoon that I joined, Chevron’s general counsel, R. Hewitt Pate, declined to discuss the size of the company’s legal fees in the litigation. So we’ll have to focus on that second item: the bog that is Patton Boggs. Which right now looks like the Lago Agrio oil field, prior to remediation….
This morning I attended the confirmation hearing for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan of Dewey & LeBoeuf. As I mentioned on Twitter a few minutes after leaving the hearing, Judge Martin Glenn confirmed the plan.
Under the plan, secured creditors will recover between 47 to 77 cents on the dollar, while unsecured creditors will wind up with 5 to 14 cents on the dollar. Secured creditors hold about $262 million in claims; total creditor claims, secured and unsecured, amount to about $550 million.
So that’s the bottom line. But what was the hearing itself like? Here are my observations, including a few photos — because bankruptcy court coverage is totally WWOP….
* She loves me, she loves me not: media darling Sonia Sotomayor used to be in favor of the use of cameras during Supreme Court arguments, but she’s done a complete about-face on the issue, just like Justice Elena Kagan before her. [National Law Journal]
* Everyone and their mother knows what Antonin Scalia thinks of the State of the Union address, but let’s find out what my colleague Elie Mystal thinks about the good justice’s antics — namely, Scalia’s non-attendance for the past sixteen years. [HuffPost Live]
* American Airlines and US Airways will be merging to create the largest (and most awful) airline in the country. Perhaps the DOJ’s antitrust division can save us from this parade of horribles. [DealBook / New York Times]
* It looks like Team Togut is going to have a crappy Valentine’s Day. They thought that their partner problems were all wrapped up, but according to these filings, it seems that they’ve only just begun. [Am Law Daily]
* If Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, is able to get his way, money will soon be raining upon the victims of the massive Ponzi scheme at warp speed. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* This probably isn’t just a “distraction” or “silly sideshow” anymore, because Apple now says it will be fighting Greenlight’s attempt to block the tech company from restricting its issuance of preferred stock. [Bloomberg]
* Instragram has asked a federal court to toss a lawsuit over changes to the photo-sharing app’s terms of service because it contests that users still own the rights to all of their fugly Walden-filtered pictures. [Reuters]
* Remember Kenneth Kratz, the former Wisconsin prosecutor who referred to himself as “the prize”? He’s settled his sexting suit with Stephanie Van Groll, also known as the “hot nymph.” [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]
* Go to grad school at Lehigh for free: check. Sue for $1.3M over your C+: check. Get chastised by a judge over your ridiculous lawsuit: check. Whatever, we still beat Duke, and that’s really all that matters. [Morning Call]
Some of our associate readers were nothappy with their latest bonuses. But hey, let’s look on the bright side: at least they got bonuses (assuming they made their hours).
The same can’t be said for former associates of the now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf. These associates sought to be treated as Dewey creditors in the firm’s bankruptcy case, but the effort isn’t going so well. And the same could be said of retired partners of D&L, some of whom could be paying money into the bankruptcy estate instead of getting money out of it….
* “As a lawyer, this is very sad for me.” Al Togut, the prominent attorney pulling all of the strings behind the curtain of the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy filings, wishes that there was some way that the firm could’ve been saved. [Am Law Daily]
* Guys at my law school used to break into the registrar’s office to steal transcript paper all the time; it was no big deal. No really, as far as sentencing goes, apparently doing such a thing isn’t that big of a deal in Virginia. [Daily Progress]
* That’s some nice lipstick you’ve got there, pig: Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law is still trying to get ABA accreditation by changing everything it can, including its lax admissions standards. [Knoxville News Sentinel]
* Even though Peter Madoff’s supporters showered the court with with letters filled with compliments ahead of his sentencing, the Ponzi victims aren’t exactly showing him the same kind of love. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* This law firm in Texas is trying to make getting divorced a more pleasurable experience, so they invented something called the “Divorce Resort” — because there’s nothing like a four-star train wreck. [Huffington Post]
* Will it be DOMA or Prop 8? The countdown until Friday starts now, because everyone’s waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will grant cert on one of the five same-sex marriage cases that has come before the high court. [UPI]
* Walk like an Egyptian — or, in this case, you can protest like one. Judges and lawyers are on strike and filing legal challenges to President Mohamed Morsi’s “unprecedented attack on judicial independence.” [New York Times]
* Dewey know when this failed firm’s bankruptcy plan will be approved? Team Togut is hoping for a February resolution, but the rascally retirees may throw a wrench in things with their committee’s continued existence. [Am Law Daily]
* Even though the Northern District of California has a historic all-women federal bench — a courthouse of their own, if you will — there’s probably no need to tell them that THERE’S NO CRYING IN LITIGATION. No crying! [The Recorder]
* New technology + old laws = a privacy clusterf**k. This week, a Senate committee will contemplate whether the Electronic Communications Privacy Act needs to be updated to get with the times. [New York Times]
* The New York State Bar Association may oppose it, but Jacoby & Meyers’s challenge to the state’s ban on non-lawyer firm ownership shall live to see another day thanks to the Second Circuit. [New York Law Journal]
* An Alabama Slammer is both a dangerous cocktail and a term for what happens when your Southern law school refuses to cut its class size and you’re left woefully unemployed after graduation. [Birmingham News]
* Casey Anthony finds relevancy again! Girls in my high school used to search for “foolproof suffocation” on Google and later get acquitted of murdering their daughters all the time; it was no big deal. [USA Today]
* Dean Boland, aka Paul Ceglia’s gazillionth lawyer in the Facebook ownership case, will soon find out if can withdraw as counsel. He’s got other things to deal with, like a $300K child porn judgment. [Wall Street Journal]
* “Enough is enough.” Come on, Togut, did you really think all of the Dewey drama was going to end just because the judge approved your settlement plan? Now he’s trying to get the former partners committee disbanded. This won’t end well. [Am Law Daily]
* Covington & Burling was disqualified from representing Minnesota in the state’s anti-pollution case against ex-client 3M over a conflict of interest. A “conscious disregard” of professional duties? This is 1L stuff, really. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]
* Remember J. Michael Johnson, the former dean of Louisiana College Law who resigned for a “great job offer” before the school even opened? He’s now senior counsel for the ultraconservative Liberty Institute. [Alexandria Town Talk]
* “If you’ve been hit by a table, ladder, or chair, call David Otunga.” What has this Harvard Law grad turned WWE wrestler been up to, aside from filming commercials at criminal defense firms? [City Sentinel]
* “The argument is absolutely absurd.” An ex-high school coach accused of having sex with a student wants Oklahomas’s ban on student-teacher relationships overturned as unconstitutional. [Alva Review-Courier]
Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for former partners of the bankrupt Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm to sign up for the “Partner Contribution Plan.” Under the terms of the Plan, which in its latest iteration seeks $90.4 million in “clawbacks” from ex-partners, participating partners would contribute specified amounts to the Dewey bankruptcy estate in exchange for releases from future liability (to the Dewey estate, to other participating partners, and to Dewey lenders, thanks to recent revisions to the PCP).
When talk of the Plan first surfaced, I opined that “[s]uch a deal sounds reasonable in principle.” I later observed that even if the PCP might not be perfect, “[i]f you’re a productive partner, happily ensconced at a new and stable firm, and just want to forget the D&L debacle and return to serving your clients, this deal may Dewey the trick.”
But now, after numerous revisions to the Plan, seemingly endless extensions of the deadline to join, and a still-insufficient amount of participation, I’m beginning to think that maybe it just won’t fly — and Dewey should just be allowed to die, i.e., slip into a straight-up liquidation. Perhaps Dewey’s bankruptcy advisers should stop trying to flog a product that nobody seems interested in buying.
UPDATE (4:35 PM): It looks like the Dewey estate’s perseverance has paid off. The $50 million participation threshold has been reached.
Here’s one good thing about the Partner Contribution Plan: thanks to the PCP, we now have detailed information about how much each of Dewey’s partners received from the firm in 2011 and 2012. And yes, we’re willing to share the data for the top earners with you, in spreadsheet form.
Some people are big believers in the virtues of black-box compensation. But here at Above the Law, we’re all about transparency….
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.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.