M&A

I want business that gives me a splitting headache to do, because I know that work is not going to be commoditized.

George Bason Jr., global co-head of Davis Polk’s mergers and acquisitions practice, commenting on the complicated transactions he prefers to work on. Bason’s attractive firm recently tied for fourth place with Cleary Gottlieb in Dealogic’s ranking of deals by dollar values in the first half of 2014.

Clients are in the driver’s seat these days. Lawyers, even partners at prestigious and profitable firms, must bow and scrape before in-house counsel to land engagements.

It won’t be long before beauty contests actually include, well, beauty contests. What rainmaker worth his or her salt wouldn’t strip down to a swimsuit if required to do so as a condition of being hired? (Assuming that seeing the lawyer in swimwear would actually appeal to the client, that is.)

Not long ago, some Biglaw partners had to humiliate themselves in order to land a major matter. What did they have to do for the deal?

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Nigella Lawson

* “Those who support limits see the court right now as the T. rex from ‘Jurassic Park.’” Folks are pretty worried even more campaign finance laws will fall thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. [New York Times]

* Skadden Arps and Simpson Thacher are at the top of their game when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Both firms did very well in new deal rankings released by Bloomberg, Mergermarket, and Thomson Reuters. Nice. [Am Law Daily]

* Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown has reportedly ditched Nixon Peabody to try his hand at a U.S. Senate run in New Hampshire. We hope he doesn’t lose his shirt again. Oh wait… [Boston Globe]

* As it turns out, the book in the Harvard Law library once believed to be bound in human skin is actually bound in sheepskin. Congrats, this is slightly less creepy. [Et Seq. / Harvard Law School Library Blog]

* Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was turned away from a flight to the U.S. after her admission to coke usage in a trial. She should probably stop sticking her nose in other people’s business. [The Guardian]

In vino veritas — about unannounced transactions.

Here’s some friendly advice: when you’re drunk, try to keep your mouth shut. Or at least keep your work-related thoughts to yourself. This is certainly true for junior lawyers, but it goes for partners as well.

According to a complaint just filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, an IP partner at a leading law firm had a few too many drinks, then got a little “TMII” — “too much (inside) information” — with his investment adviser. That adviser then traded on the material, nonpublic information, the SEC alleges….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kristina Tsamis shares some career advice for JD/MBAs from a panel discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools.

We spend a lot of time discussing the dismal employment outcomes for JD grads. Things aren’t so rosy for MBA graduates either. To talk about a dual JD/MBA degree in this context seems like a double fail — a one-two punch of more work and potentially more debt in exchange for the same sad outcome.

Enter the panelists of How to Use the JD/MBA Degree in Business and Entrepreneurship: all JD/MBA graduates who touted the usefulness of a dual degree during a discussion hosted by Duke Law in conjunction with other peer law schools. The panelists centered their advice on four main areas: what to focus on while pursuing the dual degree, how to select a good mentor, how to interview well, and how to stop being risk-averse.

1. Maintain the Right Focus as a JD/MBA student

That class in early English case law will leave you painfully ill-equipped for the modern practice of law. But there are some courses you should be paying attention to, both on the JD and MBA side.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Ted Ullyot

* Given the name and origins of the Tea Party movement, it actually makes perfect sense that their groups got grief from the IRS. [Washington Post]

* Wachtell Lipton weighs in against the practice of shareholder activists offering special compensation to director nominees. [Dealbook / New York Times]

* A law professor, Joshua Silverstein, argues that schools should embrace grade inflation. (But haven’t most of them done this already?) [WSJ Law Blog]

* Facebook shareholders might not “like” this news, but Ted Ullyot plans to step down as general counsel after about five years. We’ll have more on this later. [Corporate Counsel]

* The Brooklyn DA’s office is reopening 50 murder cases that were worked on by retired detective Louis Scarcella (who looks oh-so-savory in the NYT’s photo of him). [New York Times]

* In news that should shock no one, Nicholas Speath’s dubious discrimination case against Georgetown Law has been dismissed. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Not long after leaving Cravath for Kirkland, Sarkis Jebejian is putting together billion-dollar deals for private-equity clients. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Jeffrey Rosen reviews an interesting new book, The Federalist Society (affiliate link), authored by Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin. [New York Times]

I asked, and once again the readership delivered. I thought it would be interesting to hear from former Biglaw associates who had been passed over for partnership, and I was happy to receive some thoughtful responses.

As you will see below, and as I discussed in my columns relating to making partner, there are very powerful personal forces at work in these situations. As much as we can learn from our own disappointments, so can we learn from the experiences of others, especially those who have forged ahead despite a setback.

Biglaw can be a brutal business. We need to pause and reflect on the human toll that working in this environment can take….

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Behind the blue door lies a world of great beauty.

You’d expect a top mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer to have excellent business sense. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that an M&A partner at a leading law firm bought a Manhattan townhouse for $837,000 that is now probably worth more than $7 million.

It’s a gorgeous home, very tastefully decorated (which can’t be said of all our Lawyerly Lairs). Let’s see some pictures and learn more about it, including the identities of the owners….

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Cravath partners enjoy discounts at Subway, among other perquisites.

It’s rare for partners to leave Cravath, given the prestige, pay, and perks associated with partnership at the firm. And it’s especially rare for a Cravath partner to leave for a rival firm, as opposed to a Wall Street investment bank or major corporation.

Cravath has a very specific system for running itself, and that system has served Cravath very well over the years. As its competitors expend increasing amounts of effort to climb the prestige hierarchy and expand across the globe, Cravath remains at the top, serenely servicing its clients — and printing money for its partners. Part of the reason why Cravath so rarely loses partners to other firms is that it’s so profitable overall that even a partner being paid under Cravath’s lockstep system still does better than a “star” partner at many other firms.

So that’s why today’s news is so notable. A prominent young partner at Cravath has decided to leave Worldwide Plaza and take his talents across town.

Who is the partner in question, and where is he headed?

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* In case you missed this yesterday during the Cravath bonus-mania-palooza, David Kappos, the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, announced that he’d be stepping down from his position in January 2013. [Blog of Legal Times]

* And speaking of bonuses, somebody’s not probably getting one this year, because here come the lawsuits: Hewlett-Packard just got slapped with a securities class action suit as a result of the company’s allegedly fraudulent Autonomy acquisition. [Reuters]

* Will Penn State’s former general counsel be able to testify against Gary Schultz and Tim Curley in post-Sandusky criminal proceedings? Considering she’s “a key witness,” she better be. [Corporate Counsel]

* Of course Vermont Law School is considering offering voluntary staff buyouts, the school has a freakin’ $3.3M budget shortfall. In other news, they’ll be upping LL.M. programs to make up the cash. [National Law Journal]

* Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he owns half of Facebook, has been indicted on federal wire and mail fraud charges. He’ll appear in court this Wednesday, but who knows if he’ll have a lawyer by then. [Bloomberg]

* Jay Jaffe, law firm public relations pioneer, RIP. [PRWeek]

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