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….
Earlier this week, we wrote about the lavish payments that Dewey & LeBoeuf made to its former executive director, Stephen DiCarmine, and its former chief financial officer, Joel Sanders, in the year leading up to the firm’s bankruptcy filing. Each man received almost $3 million in salary, bonuses, and expense reimbursement. (There’s additional detail and number crunching over at The Lawyer.)
Today we bring you additional interesting information from — and speculation about — the Dewey bankruptcy filings. For starters, who are the two Dewey partners who received more than $6 million each in the year leading up to the Chapter 11 petition?
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.