Musical Chairs

* Marc Randazza wants to feed the members of the Westboro Baptist Church into a wood chipper, but he respects their First Amendment rights; accordingly, “the Westboro Baptist Church is the first entity to receive both the First Amendment Bad Ass award and the Asshat award in a single blog post.” [The Legal Satyricon]

* Everyone’s talking about the Westboro Baptist Church case, but don’t overlook Chief Justice Roberts’s hilarious opinion in FCC v. AT&T, rejecting a corporation’s claim of privacy rights under FOIA (contrary to the alarmist predictions of certain overwrought, Citizens United-obsessed liberals). [Slate]

* Speaking of noteworthy cases, check out the latest precedent of Zoopreme Court: Justice Under Paws. [Zoopreme Court]

* New New Hampshire motto: Leave my junk free or die. [Huffington Post]

* Musical chairs: three real-estate partners leave Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago for Latham & Watkins. Speaking of these firms, will either pay spring bonuses? [Chicago Tribune]

* Meanwhile, on the South Side, UofC Law is encouraging young black high schoolers to go to law school. If B (# of black students) < P (Posner) + L (Liberals), then you've got to do some outreach. [University of Chicago Law School]

* If you enjoyed our recent post about Chief Judge Kozinski’s taste in movies, you can check out all of his mini-reviews over here. [IMDb]

* Some reflections by Jane Genova on politics, law firms, and the power game. [Law and More]

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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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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Yesterday we reported on talks last week between Jones Day and key partners in the construction group of Howrey. It appears that the talks have borne fruit.

As reported yesterday by the Daily Journal (subscription), a group of seven Howrey partners — led by prominent construction lawyer Steve O’Neal, former chairman of the now-defunct Thelen law firm — left Howrey this week for Jones Day. The move was confirmed yesterday by Robert Mittelstaedt, the partner in charge of Jones Day’s San Francisco office.

Who are the departing construction-law partners? And which other partners might be leaving Howrey’s California offices?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Met Your Mother (Then Lost Her to Another Firm)”

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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David Hoffman

* Clarence Thomas is now being criticized for attending a Koch party. Koch, not Coke. [New York Times]

* Chevron gets hit with a record-setting judgment in the Ecuadorian environmental case — and it has to apologize. [Wall Street Journal]

* Musical chairs: David Hoffman — a former Rehnquist clerk and Kash-certified hottie, who previously ran for President Obama’s former Senate seat — is joining Sidley Austin. [Chicago Tribune]

* The Justice Department will investigate the death of the Pace University student shot by police. This comes after a grand jury declined to indict any of the police officers involved in the shooting. [Boston Globe]

* A lacrosse stick, hella yayo, and a horrific sex crime. What is ‘When keeping it bro goes wrong’, Alex? [New York Post]

* The NFL accuses the players’ union of dirty tactics, but shockingly doesn’t single out James Harrison. [Washington Post]

Rihanna is a Rude Girl, according to David LaChapelle.

* New York has published a Legal Doomsday Manual. From the introduction: “Zombies will rape your face if not properly Mirandized.” [New York Times]

* Obama’s proposed budget does not cut funding to the Legal Services Corporation. I think it’s high time trial lawyers started voting Democrat. [WSJ Law Blog]

* David LaChapelle is suing Rihanna. I don’t have a joke here, but I’ve always thought that this LaChapelle photo is fantastic. [msnbc.com]

* Here’s an ancient Chinese secret for you. It’s difficult to sue them. [Reuters]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

Why are lateral partners like pigs?

No, no! I didn’t mean it that way!

I’m just remembering the line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm — “Four legs good, two legs bad!”

Thirty years ago, law firms took pride in having only homegrown partners: “Homegrown good, laterals bad!” There was a certain logic to that. If you’d worked with a lawyer from his first day out of law school or a clerkship and seen the lawyer progress in the law, then after six (or eight, or ten) years, you had a pretty good sense of that human being, both as a person and as a lawyer. When you made a partnership decision, you could be fairly comfortable that you were working from a decent base of knowledge.

Law firms knew this, and they flaunted it.

Places bragged that all (or nearly all) partners were homegrown. Firms tried to convince their lawyers to stay put. (In 1979, one former Cravath lawyer told me that the firm had a mantra, “You only leave Cravath once.” There was no going home again.) Firms didn’t hire laterals, and firms bragged about it: “Homegrown good, laterals bad!”

That was then; now is now. Based on where I sit, on the receiving end of many law firm marketing communications, times have changed….

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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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'Judge Tacha, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'

Here’s a new mini-trend: federal judges leaving the bench to lead law schools.

In 2007, David F. Levi stepped down as chief judge of the Eastern District of California, to assume the deanship of Duke Law School.

Today, Pepperdine University School of Law announced that Judge Deanell Reece Tacha — who has served on the Tenth Circuit for over 25 years, including a term as chief judge (2001-2007) — will be the school’s new dean, effective June 1.

Judge Tacha follows in the footsteps of another federal judge: former D.C. Circuit Judge Ken Starr, of Whitewater / Monica Lewinsky fame. Judge Starr served as Pepperdine Law’s dean until he left last year for the presidency of Baylor University.

How are students reacting to news of Judge Tacha’s appointment?

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I like it when the artifice drops and Biglaw is shown to be dominated by greed. I don’t necessarily use the word “greed” pejoratively. I like money, you like money, and if somebody offered you more money to do what you are doing already, you’d take it.

I just like it when people can admit that the only thing they care about is money. It just makes things more efficient. What do you want? More money! When do you want it? Now!

Associates get a lot of flack for being unabashedly greedy, but an excellent report in today’s Wall Street Journal illustrates that Biglaw partners are just as obsessed with money has anybody else.

And the only problem is that the partners losing out on the money grab are kind of pissed….

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