Partners With Issues

On Monday, we noted the surprising news of a young partner leaving Wachtell Lipton to start his own boutique firm. Given the rarity of partner departures from the super-lucrative Wachtell, my colleague Staci Zaretsky described the news as “basically like seeing a unicorn.”

Why did Jeremy Goldstein, a 40-year-old partner in the firm’s executive-compensation practice, leave WLRK? The American Lawyer piece about Goldstein’s move painted a happy picture of a lawyer striking out on his own to be more entrepreneurial and to run his own business.

But we wonder if there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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I was trying to achieve a work-life balance after I had missed my children’s lives.

Lee Smolen, the ex-Sidley Austin partner who was hit with ethics charges after he faked almost $70,000 in reimbursable car fare expenses, during his testimony last week before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The IARDC seeks a temporary suspension of Smolen’s license to practice law as punishment for his pilfering.

Yesterday we wrote about a managing partner’s abrupt departure from her firm — a departure that the remaining members of management noted in a somewhat snarky email.

At the time, we didn’t know where she was headed. Now we know her destination — and we can understand why some of her former colleagues might be bent out of shape over her leaving.

Where did this prominent partner land, and what might happen to the firm she left behind?

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Here at Above the Law, we love ourselves a good departure memo. If a great one makes its way into your inbox, please feel free to send our way.

People write departure memos so they can frame their farewells — explain why they’re leaving, provide their new contact information, and thank the people who need to be thanked. But what about if a partner — a managing partner, no less, and one involved in a summer associate scandal from a few years ago — just quits without explanation?

In that case, the remaining members of management write her departure memo for her. And oh what a departure memo….

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‘Have spent all day fending Edna off my graphite shaft.’

We already knew that Biglaw firms aren’t exactly the most friendly places for women. We already knew that some male lawyers are still quite miffed that women invaded their good old boys’ clubs. What we didn’t know was that some Biglaw firms would go so far as to essentially sign off on their partners’ extremely sexist views.

Which firm recently found out that one of its partners was involved in a sexist email scandal, and is doing absolutely nothing about it?

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How our original tipsters felt.

Yesterday we shared with you a controversial firm-wide email sent by a fairly senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis. After receiving too many “requests for information” that he viewed as a waste of his (and everyone else’s) valuable time, corporate partner Kenneth Morrison fired off a firm-wide response that made fun of three offending messages and offered guidance for future RFIs.

The K&E sources who shared Morrison’s message with us disapproved of it. They viewed it as a share partner essentially engaged in cyberbullying of junior colleagues, publicly humiliating them before the entire firm.

But some folks disagreed — including, for example, many commenters on yesterday’s story. And since then, we’ve heard directly from multiple people, both at Kirkland and outside of it, who support Ken Morrison’s email. Let’s hear what the members of #TeamMorrison have to say, shall we?

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When it comes to annoying emails, deletion is often the better part of valor. Some irritating emails, such as ones from opposing counsel or clients, might require a response. But if you receive an annoying email that does not require a response, don’t respond. Simply delete (or archive) the offending message.

There’s no need to be a hero. There’s no need to publicly call out the sender for being annoying. If you have a burning desire to complain, shoot the sender a private email.

But look, this is just my personal opinion. One equity partner at a super-elite law firm apparently disagrees. After receiving three annoying firm-wide emails, he sent a firm-wide response aimed at chastising and humiliating the senders. In the end, though, he may have humiliated himself most of all….

(Please note the UPDATES below; the partner in question has his defenders.)

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As we’ve mentioned before in these pages, lawyers as a group are highly susceptible to addiction. The rate of alcoholism among lawyers may be twice as high as it is among the general population. If you think you or a colleague might have a substance abuse problem, try reaching out to a Lawyer Assistance Program for help.

Alcohol problems afflict the high and the low. As for the high, let’s tell you about a managing partner who needs to manage his drinking….

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There are so many interesting parts of the Dewey criminal charges, it’s hard to count them all.

For starters, there are the emails laid out by the SEC in its complaint, such as:

  • “I don’t see how we’ll get past the auditors another year.”
  • “I assume you [k]new this but just in case. Can you find another clueless auditor for next year?”
  • “I don’t know anything about [the contracts] and I don’t want to cook the books anymore. We need to stop doing that.”
  • “I don’t know. He’s starting to wig a little. Maybe he’s hearing and seeing too much . . . .”

Sadly for people and happily for prosecutors, regrettable emails are simply a fact of modern electronic life. Still, “I don’t want to cook the books anymore” has to be pretty high on the list of things that one is likely to regret putting in an email.

(These emails, and more, are collected in the Bloomberg piece by Matt Levine wonderfully titled “Law Firm Accountants Were Bad at Accounting, Law.”)

But, probably more interesting than these regrettable emails is what the Dewey prosecution can tell us about white-collar prosecutions in New York more generally….

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Biglaw partners from international firms don’t like to lose cases — especially not to solo practitioners. Biglaw partners think they own the world, and to lose a case to a lowly solo practitioner would likely bring shame to their firm and force them to commit ritualistic seppuku-style suicide in an attempt to regain their lost honor. (No offense, solos, but we imagine Biglaw partners’ horses are quite high.)

Watch out, solos, because you’ll get absolutely no love from Ho-Love if something like this were to happen. You might get stepped on — literally — and even get slapped in the face with a briefcase…

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