Kim Eisler

As we mentioned in our last story on the embattled Howrey law firm, the remaining partners will vote this week on whether to wind down the 55-year-old shop. According to Am Law Daily, that vote is set to take place on Wednesday.

For the past few weeks, Winston & Strawn has been waiting in the wings, hoping to help itself to Howrey’s healthiest parts. But as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many of the strongest partners and practice groups have already defected to other firms.

Let’s discuss the latest developments — and also learn the fate of current 3Ls holding offers from Howrey….

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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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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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Now that you’ve figured out what to give your secretary this holiday season, what about the lawyers in your life? Many of you have friends or family members who are lawyers or law students, and if you haven’t done so already, you need to get them — forgive the expression — Christmas presents (or holiday gifts, if you prefer).

Lawyerly types can be tough to shop for. As we’ve previously discussed, lawyers aren’t great about giving gratitude, and they’re often very critical — so your gifts might not be warmly received. Also, many lawyers earn good incomes, meaning that when they actually need or want something, they often just go out and buy it themselves (or let their firm to buy it for them — e.g., the iPad).

So what should you get for the lawyers in your life this holiday season? We have some suggestions….

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