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?
* 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 donebefore — 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.'
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?
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?
In our last story on the trials and tribulations of Howrey, we expressed doubt that a full-on merger between Howrey and Winston & Strawn would take place. We suggested that Winston would probably wind up “picking up large chunks of Howrey, maybe even entire offices — just like Sonnenschein picked up 100 lawyers from Thacher Proffitt, during TPW’s final days.”
And that appears to be what’s happening now. According to The Recorder, Winston extended individual offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners over the weekend.
And what about the remaining 25 percent? A recruiter familiar with the situation told The Recorder that they either have conflicts issues or aren’t interested in winding up at Winston.
* Is the Cravath bonus big enough that we could call it the “Live Charlie Sheen’s life for a day” bonus? [Radar Online]
* Hillary Clinton completed the “full Ginsburg” on Sunday; we’ll see if S&C goes the full Cravath before the week is out. [Political Wire]
* I’m not surprised a couple of Harvard students were the first ones to try and use computers to get laid back in 1965. Even today, few Harvard students understand that the key to getting chicks to pursue you is to get a job at Cravath. [GQ]
* With the Superbowl in town, Dallas judges are limiting their requests for jurors in an effort to ease traffic. Or they could just tell them that they’ll only be receiving a Skadden bonus for their time; that should keep people from showing up. [Star-Telegram]
* I’m not in favor of strict constitutionalism, but for the first time in a while, strict Cravathism might be good for the Biglaw market. [Bell and Bar]
* Hearing Larry Summers fight with Amy Chua over how to educate young girls is like hearing Weil Gotshal lecture Cravath on how to be a market leader in associate compensation. [Wall Street Journal]
* This week’s Blawg Review addresses nasty internet commenters. Sounds like the Blawg Reviewers are hearing a lot of stuff from DPW associates as opposed to peer, Cravath commenters. [Koehler Law via Blawg Review]
Developments are flying fast and furious out of Howrey. Yesterday we passed along reports that Howrey’s merger talks with Winston & Strawn were off. Today we’re hearing that they might be back on (or that they never stopped in the first place).
According to the U.K.-based Legal Week (via the ABA Journal), the talks are ongoing. The parties are represented by Thomas Fitzgerald, managing partner of Winston, and Sean Boland, vice chairman of Howrey. Winston is apparently attracted to antitrust at Howrey, an area where Winston wants to expand.
Corroboration of continued Winston / Howrey discussions from a U.S. source, plus some interesting internal emails from Howrey leadership, after the jump.
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.