Musical Chairs

Two litigation partners in the Washington office of Weil Gotshal, Michael Lyle and Eric Lyttle, have left Weil to join the D.C. office of Quinn Emanuel. Lyle, a successful trial lawyer who also worked in the White House during the Clinton Administration, was particularly prominent at Weil Gotshal: he served as managing partner of the D.C. office and was a member of the firm’s management committee.

Quinn Emanuel has been on a lateral hiring tear, so it’s not exactly shocking when they lure stars away from other firms. And QE’s Washington office has been particularly active on the hiring front. Just last month, for example, they hired a longtime federal prosecutor, Sam Sheldon, deputy chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, out of the Justice Department.

So here’s what is especially interesting about the Lyle and Lyttle departures: how Weil reacted to the news. Let’s just say Weil didn’t take it sitting down….

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Lateral partner movement continues in the world of intellectual property law. As we noted in Morning Docket, four partners and one of counsel are departing from Finnegan Henderson, one of the leading IP-only firms in the country.

Where are they going? What else is going on over at Finnegan? And what does the future hold for large, IP-focused law firms like Finnegan?

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Michigan Central Station

Last year I got ticketed while visiting the great city of Detroit. I was trying to take some photographs — like the one at right (click to enlarge) — and I unwittingly trespassed upon government property. I got a ticket for “loitering on railroad property.” It wasn’t cheap, at $200, but I was fine with paying it, figuring that Detroit needs all the help it can get. (Also, I liked the fact that the ticket listed my race as “White.”)

Detroit needs all the help it can get — and now it’s getting some. Governor Rick Snyder just picked a leading bankruptcy lawyer to oversee the city’s operations, pursuant to Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law. (The people of Michigan voted to repeal an earlier emergency management statute, and the legislature then passed a new one.)

So who’s the Biglaw partner tasked with Mission: Impossible, and which firm does he or she hail from?

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‘Best court-ordered pajama party ever! Yay!’

* Our own Elie Mystal isn’t the only one who’s capable of fanning the flames of race baiting — it seems that Supreme Court justices can do it, too! We’ll probably have more on Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s benchslap later today. [The Two-Way / NPR]

* Patience is obviously one of this judge’s virtues, because this took a looooong time. After waiting more than a year for people to put their petty political pandering aside, the Senate confirmed Robert Bacharach to the Tenth Circuit. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Mary Jo White, the nominee to lead the SEC, will probably face her confirmation hearing in March. Her legal wranglings at Debevoise may be of interest to some, but really, who cares? She’s so cute and tiny! [Reuters]

* Mayer Brown and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year: gross revenue is up overall at most Biglaw firms, but not this one. In 2012, Mayer Brown’s revenue dipped 3.7 percent for a six-year low. [Am Law Daily]

* Kirkland & Ellis, now the fifth-largest Biglaw firm in the nation, is leading the market in terms of top dollar merger-and-acquisition deals. Now, if only the firm could get some bananas. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* Orderly liquidation authority may be a legitimate exercise of power under the Bankruptcy Clause, but as far as these states are concerned, it’s just another reason to hate the Dodd-Frank Act. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Remember Peggy Ableman, the judge who ordered lawyers to attend a course on remedial civility in their “jammies”? She’s now at McCarter & English, so mind your manners. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* An “astronomically stupid” legal loophole? Unpossible! Gun trusts are seeing the limelight because Chris Dorner claims he used one to purchase his paraphernalia without a background check. [New York Times]

* The horror! The horror! Sacrilege! Constitutional law nerds nationwide will weep at the very thought of someone suggesting that our country’s governing document be amended to abolish life tenure for Supreme Court justices. [Los Angeles Times]

* Quite frankly, it’s pretty amazing how quickly the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act went from being seen by states as something that wasn’t “onerous” to being “arbitrary and burdensome.” That’s politics for you. [It's All Politics / NPR]

* Jim Woolery, an M&A superstar formerly of J.P. Morgan, has made the jump to Cadwalader after only two years at the bank. Upgrade or downgrade from his Cravath partnership? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Some law professors stop teaching classes to tend to their divorce proceedings, but other law professors teach classes from their hospital beds so their students aren’t thrown to the wolves. [Tex Parte / Texas Lawyer]

* It you want to be employed, make damn sure you nail your interview because “[t]he stakes are higher than ever” — fewer than 13 percent of permanent law jobs were obtained from OCI in 2011. [National Law Journal]

* Greenlight Capital’s case against Apple might have been perceived as a “silly sideshow” by some, but it looks like Judge Richard Sullivan of the S.D.N.Y. purchased front row tickets. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Speaking of silly sideshows, the DOJ recently joined the fray with Floyd Landis and his False Claims Act suit against Lance Armstrong. Perhaps it’s time for the disgraced biker to take his ball and go home. [Bloomberg]

* Alan Westin, privacy law scholar and professor emeritus of public law at Columbia, RIP. [New York Times]

Musical Chairs

Is lateral partner hiring a game of musical chairs that law firms can’t win? Anecdotes about unsuccessful lateral hires abound. You hear stories about high-profile partners moving from Firm A to Firm B, often lured by huge guarantees, only to leave Firm B a few years later, after failing to integrate or deliver the expected business.

And some of the most successful firms in all the land, places with immense prestige and sky-high profits, do very little lateral hiring. Their refusal to engage in the lateral market hasn’t seemed to hurt them.

When it comes to lateral hiring, should firms “just say no”? Well, that’s not what’s actually happening in the marketplace. Last year, lateral partner hiring climbed, suggesting that it must be working out — at least for some firms….

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* Justice Sotomayor’s memoir made the NYT’s best-seller list, and in terms of sales, she’s officially beating the pants off other Supreme Court justices who’ve released books of a similar nature. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* In case you were sleeping under a rock yesterday when this happened, John Kerry was confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state. Don’t think we’ll be getting a Texts From John Tumblr, though. [New York Times]

* Despite having a “pretty spectacular” year, Blank Rome’s legal secretaries may soon find themselves blankly roaming in search of new employment. Better hurry up, the buyout offer expires on Friday! [Legal Intelligencer]

* Straight up now tell me, do you really wanna sue me forever? Corey Clark once claimed he had an affair with American Idol judge Paula Abdul, and now he claims MoFo and Gibson Dunn defamed him. [Am Law Daily]

* In this round of musical chairs, we learn that Orrick hoovered up three energy and project finance partners from Bingham, one of whom will co-chair the firm’s U.S. energy group. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Remember the Zumba prostitution ring? Now we know you can’t be prosecuted for secretly filming Johns in the act in Maine, because there’s no expectation of privacy in “bordellos, whorehouses, and the like.” [Wired]

* Energy drink makers are facing class action suits over claims made about their products. Fine, Red Bull may not give you wings, but it tastes like piss, and that’s gotta count for something, dammit. [National Law Journal]

* Much like herpes, Lindsay Lohan’s legal drama is the gift that just keeps on giving. Her longtime lawyer Shawn Holley wants out, and her new lawyer, Mark Heller, isn’t even licensed to practice in California. [CNN]

It looks like a silly marginal tax increase on the personal incomes of the top 2 percent is the last thing the barons of Wall Street need to worry about. President Obama is sending a new sheriff into the regulatory fray.

Dealbook reports that Obama will nominate former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sending in White to the SEC is a little bit like calling the Wolf to drive home your blood-soaked vehicle. It’s a bold move for an agency that is often overwhelmed by the impressive lawyers marshaled on behalf of the financial industry in defense of their most complex transactions.

Unlike Elizabeth Warren (bless her heart), Mary Jo White is no academic, she’s a hard-nosed litigator. And she might be exactly what the SEC needs…

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* “The bottom line is … I’m the 800-pound-gorilla that you want to settle with.” By the way, if you weren’t sure, Howrey’s trustee Allan Diamond wasn’t kidding about suing the firm’s former partners. “Either we’re going to cut deals, or I’m suing you.” [Am Law Daily]

* It takes two to do the partnership tango: in the expansion of its Financial Institutions Group, Goodwin Procter picked up Brynn Peltz, an attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, and an ex-partner at Latham and Clifford Chance. [Fort Mill Times]

* Hello, predictive coding! Goodbye, jobs! Not only can computers do the work of lawyers on the cheap, but they can do it more intelligently, too. Get ready to welcome our new digital overlords. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Another day, another op-ed article about the law school crisis in the pages of the New York Times. But at least this one is about something most can support: changing the third year of law school. [New York Times]

* As it turns out, with 82 applications for the program’s first five spots, there’s actually a demand for Yale Law’s Ph.D. in Law. So much for this being “[t]he worst idea in the history of legal education.” [National Law Journal]

* Linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation suit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with Bountygate was dismissed. Wonder when Goodell will suspend Vilma for thinking he could win. [Bloomberg]

* Francis Lorson, former chief deputy clerk of the Supreme Court, RIP. [Blog of Legal Times]

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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