Barnes & Thornburg

Mindy Kaling

* Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner is planning to step down after almost two decades in the firm’s top leadership role. His tenure ends on a high note: 2013′s gross revenue was up by 12% and PPP was up by 8.2%. [Am Law Daily]

* “To terminate Jones Day at that point is an incredibly bad idea. I hope the mayor hears me.” Judge Steven Rhodes politely called Detroit’s mayor a moron after the city official declared he’d fire Jones Day in September. [Detroit Free Press]

* “When you’re giving anything to a judge, you try to be careful about it.” In 2012, law schools paid federal judges almost $2M to teach and lecture. A useful way to spend tuition dollars? [National Law Journal]

* San Diego Law School, a branch of San Francisco Law School, is open for business. It’s being marketed as a “fresh start” — if you failed out at another law school, come join the party here! [Daily Transcript]

* If you weren’t aware, Mindy Kaling gave a commencement speech at Harvard Law this week. She praised the graduates’ dedication to tedium, and kindly reminded some that they were truly evil. [Boston.com]

Nancy Sullivan

Partners make the Biglaw world go ’round, and when a partner dies, especially in a manner as brutal as this, the Biglaw world weeps.

Today, we’ve got some sad news out of Minneapolis, where Nancy Sullivan, a Barnes & Thornburg partner who practiced ERISA and employee benefits law and served as the pro bono coordinator at her firm’s office, was shot and killed by her boyfriend as she tried to move out of the home they shared together. Also wounded were Sullivan’s daughter, Kathleen Fay, and Fay’s boyfriend, Tony Brown.

Suspected shooter Johnny Simpson also died, but police are not yet calling this a murder-suicide…

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its Am Law 200 law firm rankings — a list that’s still closely watched, but not quite as prestigious as being a ranked member of the influential Am Law 100. Sorry, but being a part of the “Second Hundred” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

While the Am Law 100 celebrated a year of “slow growth” in 2012, it looks like the Am Law 200 will be known for its “bets on bulk.” When all of the big boys were busy playing it safe, perhaps out of fear of becoming the next Dewey, firms in the Second Hundred were gobbling up talent like there was no tomorrow.

Of course, as could’ve been expected, this kind of aggressive hiring had some pretty major effects on firms’ financial performance. So how did the Am Law 200 stack up? Let’s find out…

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” and with regard to economic recovery, Biglaw firms seem to have taken that up as their new motto.

Yes, partners are still living as large as they ever were, but their success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics. The divide between the “haves and the have-nots” in the world of major law firms has grown to epic proportions, and some Am Law 100 staples have fallen out of the top hundred firms altogether. Welcome to the new normal.

Are you ready to get excited about “modest” and “spotty” gains across the board? Let’s dig in….

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As we mentioned last week, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. And despite all the doom and gloom permeating the legal profession, as well as the stagnant bonuses for associates lucky enough to make it into Biglaw, partners at large law firms are living just as large as ever.

In a way, the recovery in Biglaw is not unlike the recovery in America in general. If you were already well-off, you’re doing great now. It’s just not trickling down to anybody else. See, e.g., anemic spring bonuses.

Interestingly enough, the division of the world into “haves and have-nots” continues even into the world of major law firms. Partners at super-top-tier firms are putting even more distance between themselves and partners at less high-powered or less profitable firms.

Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

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Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?

What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.

In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.

What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?

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Yours truly and S.D.N.Y. nominee Paul Oetken

* One of my favorite parts of the judicial nomination process is the financial voyeurism it makes possible. Check out the income and net worth numbers for two S.D.N.Y. nominees named Paul: Paul Engelmayer, recognized by ATL as a top partner to work for, and Paul Oetken, who would become the first openly gay man to serve on the S.D.N.Y. if confirmed. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Some happier news for Hunton & Williams: partner Kyle Sampson, a prominent figure in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, has been awarded a D.C. law license (after a two-year battle). [Main Justice]

* Now that the DOJ will no longer defend DOMA, married gay couples, represented by prominent immigration lawyer Lavi Soloway, plan to challenge the law in immigration court. [Stop the Deportations]

* A status update in the Facebook juror case: the California Supreme Court wants some briefing. [Sacramento Bee via @KashHill]

Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY)

* Lawyerly Lairs: Retired Law Professor Edition. Amidst all the bellyaching by state workers demanding rich, defined-benefit pensions (which are basically extinct in the private sector), isn’t it nice to read about two old people who can pay for their own retirements — and a $3.3 million condo? [New York Times]

* Wondering why Rep. Christopher Lee stepped down so quickly? Here’s a possible answer. [Gawker]

* Musical chairs: Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg takes six lawyers from Akin Gump and opens a new Los Angeles office. [Indiana Lawyer]

* If you’re done with the February bar exam, congratulations! Here are some ways to celebrate (besides going to Disney World). [Lawyerist]

This has not been a great day for lawyers in Indiana. Another Hoosier lawyer, this time at Barnes & Thornburg, just received a public reprimand for patronizing a prostitute (we’re only doing our part to aid in the shaming).

From the National Law Journal (via the ABA Journal):

The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Barnes & Thornburg attorney for patronizing a prostitute in February.

Hiroaki Nishikawara, of counsel in the law firm’s Indianapolis office, received the reprimand after the court approved an agreement between him and the state’s attorney disciplinary commission. Nishikawara entered into a plea agreement for committing a class A misdemeanor. The agreement required him to perform six hours of community service and attend an impact panel proceeding. The court noted that he had completed the requirements and had no prior criminal history.

Nishikawara declined to comment about the reprimand.

OK, lawyers I get it. You work ridiculously long hours and it’s really hard to meet women at 3 a.m. when you’re ambling out of work. You’ve tried your sweet charm on your secretary and failed.

But the one thing working 89 hours a day has provided you with is money. So hey, at least you can use that.

Right?

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Does Wildman Harrold force its partners to take a blood oath? The story ripping around the blogosphere today involves Wildman Harrold enforcing a 90-day notice period on a group of partners who want to leave the firm for Barnes & Thornburg.

What is the upside in forcing colleagues to stay who don’t want to be there anymore? That’s unclear.

But the downside should be obvious. Letting it get to this point is like putting up a big red sign to potential future partners at Wildman that reads: “If you ever leave us we’ll do everything we can to screw you.” Wildman might not be at the boiling rabbits stage, but it’s pretty easy to get a reputation as that crazy chick nobody wants to date.

Of course, to hear Wildman tell it, nothing unusual is going on here, the firm is just following its procedures…

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If you stick to the coasts, you might not have heard of Barnes & Thornburg. But it’s one of the biggest and best firms in Indiana. Unfortunately today we bring them up because of tragedy. A partner at the firm, Mary Jane Frisby, was found dead in her home. She appears to be the victim of a murder-suicide carried out by her husband. The ABA Journal reports:

The body of Mary Jane Frisby, 44, a former partner at the Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg, was found in her home, the apparent victim of homicide.

Police discovered her body after her estranged husband, David Frisby, shot himself at a parking garage near the firm, which she’d recently left, reports Channel 6 in Indianapolis.

Weeks before the murder, David Frisby lashed out at lawyers from Barnes & Thornburg…

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