Howrey like dem apples

The spinning of the revolving door at the beleaguered Howrey law firm is making our heads spin here at Above the Law. Keeping track of all the partner departures is becoming quite the challenge. We’ve collected some links about the latest partner defections, after the jump.

At this rate, it’s not clear how many lawyers will be left for “rescue” by white knight Winston & Strawn. (Protip: check the armor for bedbugs.)

Here’s some new (but hardly surprising) information: Howrey has canceled its summer program. Yes, the famous Howrey Bootcamp, touted by the firm as “[f]ar more intense and rewarding than traditional summer associate programs,” and offering “an entirely unique approach to associate recruitment and training.”

Bootcamp participants received intensive litigation training — and inspirational poetry from firm CEO Robert Ruyak, which we share with you below….

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On Twitter, somebody told me that “February is the Monday of months.” So true. For such a short month, February just drags on and on and on. Maybe it does make sense to dump Black History Month in February, because the month is like the freaking Middle Passage, bringing us to the tyranny of hay-fever season.

In any event, now that it’s over, let’s take a look back at the lawyers who made news in the month of February and ask you to pick a Lawyer of the Month. Just like last month, there are no specific criteria — just vote for the lawyer or lawyers you think most deserve the title.

Let’s get to this month’s nominees….

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The Howrey saga rolls on. The story has been interesting to cover, since it involves some colorful characters and illustrates a number of trends that are reshaping the large-law-firm landscape (as noted in the recent Washington Post piece on Howrey). But at a certain point, we’re just going to want some closure on this story.

Well, a conclusion may be close at hand. The contours of an absorption of Howrey by Winston & Strawn are starting to become more clear.

Let’s take a look at what’s on the table….

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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…

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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.

On Friday we reported that IP litigator Mark Whitaker would be joining Baker Botts. That news has now been publicly announced.

Back on February 4, we mentioned that government contracts lawyer Barbara Werther was leaving Howrey, most likely for Ober|Kaler. She’s now on the Ober|Kaler website (although the firm apparently didn’t issue a press release touting her arrival, as it did for two first-year associates).

UPDATE: Just this morning, Ober|Kaler issued a press release on Werther and insurance coverage litigator Stephen Palley (who also joined from Howrey).

UPDATE (4/5/11): All in all, five Howrey construction lawyers joined Ober|Kaler.

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….

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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.”

Mark Whitaker

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 join Winston & Strawn, but he had other plans underway when the Winston talks were announced. His departure from Howrey comes just a few days after WilmerHale’s announcement 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?

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Justice Kennedy

* How did Howrey start to unravel? The trouble might have started in Europe. [Washington Post]

* Congratulations to Arvo Mikkanen, a Native American nominee to the federal bench in Oklahoma (and “an all-around great dude,” according to a tipster). [The Atlantic]

* Washington & Lee Law School, which we recently praised for its honesty to prospective law students, gets even more transparent — in an interview with Vault. [Vault's Law Blog]

* In a recent visit to USC, Justice Kennedy presided over a Shakespeare-inspired trial — something he has done before — and denied that the justices think about the news media when making their decisions. Methinks His Honor doth protest too much. [USC News]

'Please don't ship me in a box with no air holes.'

* A New York trial court smacks down a claim of cyberbullying. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Taxing alcohol to reduce crime? Sounds like that will lead to more muggings for alcohol money. [Going Concern]

* If you try to mail a puppy from Minnesota to Georgia in a box with no airholes, you don’t get your dog back. Also, you get shipped directly to hell. [Runnin' Scared / Village Voice]

* Blawg Review #297: The Hair Shirt Edition. [Big Legal Brain via Blawg Review]

Yesterday we passed along a rumor that Barbara Werther and some of her colleagues in government contracts were leaving Howrey. We have since received additional confirmation of this report. According to one source, Werther informed Howrey partners of her departure on Thursday, and her office was cleaned out on Friday.

As we previously mentioned, a meeting with associates and firm chairman Robert Ruyak was also scheduled for yesterday. What happened on that conference call?

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We’re hearing rumors about a few additional departures from Howrey….

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Accept your offers. It’s wise advice for 2Ls going through fall recruiting, and it’s wise advice for partners of the rapidly unraveling Howrey law firm, most of whom have offers to join Winston & Strawn. Last weekend, Winston made offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners, with responses requested in 21 days.

Yesterday we mentioned that a Howrey partnership conference call took place on Tuesday. During that meeting, firm chairman Robert Ruyak and Winston & Strawn managing partner Thomas Fitzgerald apparently urged Howrey partners with Winston offers to accept them as soon as possible, according to The Recorder.

Many Howrey partners have already left for other firms, as chronicled in these pages. A group of eleven attorneys recently departed for Morgan Lewis, for example.

Of the 200 to 230 Howrey partners who remain, how many are likely to go with Winston?

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