Paul Hastings

Since our Friday photo essay on Dewey & LeBoeuf, the once-proud law firm that probably isn’t long for this world, numerous other outlets have produced some excellent Dewey coverage. We mentioned two of the pieces, about partner problems and unpaid janitors’ bills, in today’s Morning Docket.

It’s interesting to see how the pace of the Dewey story is shifting. We’re moving from the breathless breaking of news into a period of longer pieces focused on analysis and narrative. This makes sense, given that most of the major events have already transpired (with the exception of formalities that will be big news if and when they do occur — e.g., an official vote of dissolution, a filing of bankruptcy, etc.).

So let’s do a more comprehensive review of the latest Dewey stories from around the web. We bring you more theories of blame, more partner departures, and more revelations about the personal life of former chairman Steven H. Davis….

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In terms of firm finances, Paul Hastings had a perfectly decent 2011. Revenue and profits were fairly stable, according to Am Law Daily. Gross revenue fell by 2 percent to $884 million, and profits per partner fell by 1.3 percent to about $1.97 million. On the brighter side, revenue per lawyer surpassed the $1 million mark for the first time, hitting $1.01 million.

So how are those revenue-generating worker bees being compensated? Bonuses are out at Paul Hastings. How are PH associates reacting?

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I’m a man who likes to drink. In public. Often to the point of intoxication. So I’m not here to judge anybody who goes out and gets drunk. I’m not a hypocrite.

But I will say that it’s been a while since I went out on an epic bender. Something about getting older. You just feel the vomitous black-out coming on and it’s hard to push beyond that barrier.

Well, it’s hard for me. Maybe not so much for Laura L. Flippin. She’s a lawyer, a partner at DLA Piper. The Washington Post reports that last month she got charged with public intoxication.

The police report states that Laura Flippin’s blood alcohol level was .253, which is flippin’ epic…

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong to brag about receiving an offer in front of your friends, family, and total strangers. I personally subscribe to the Major League theory that you don’t want to be dancing in front of somebody who just died, but I understand that most of the kids these days have never even seen the movie I just referenced.

For the millennials, bragging comes so naturally they don’t even realize when they’re doing it. It’s like their biological imperatives are to survive, reproduce, and post evidence of it on Facebook.

Which is fine. I mean, just because somebody is bragging doesn’t mean you have to care. For instance, today we’ve got a kid bragging about getting an offer from a particular Biglaw firm. Some people will be envious; other people are going to make jokes about coat hangers. To each his own….

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During 2011, Paul Hastings has been picking up partners. We previously mentioned their acquiring two prominent leveraged finance lawyers, Michael Michetti and Rich Farley, from Cahill Gordon. Additional hires, including Michael Baker from Shearman & Sterling and Steven Park from Finnegan Henderson, are listed on the PH website.

Like any large firm, however, Paul Hastings loses partners too. We’ve just learned of two partners who are ankling PH for Nixon Peabody.

Let’s find out who they are, get the backstory on their departures, and also obtain the 411 on some PH staff layoffs….

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(Plus Paul Hastings staff layoffs.)

Juliette Youngblood and Morgan Chu

Last month, Juliette Youngblood, an ex-partner at the elite California law firm of Irell & Manella, filed suit against her former firm. In her lawsuit for sex discrimination and wrongful termination, Youngblood advanced a whole host of salacious allegations — including a report of sexual harassment by Morgan Chu, arguably the nation’s #1 intellectual-property litigator.

Irell did not respond to the lawsuit at the time. Now it has, in a blistering 22-page filing that calls Youngblood’s claims “meritless” and “utterly false, complete fabrications manufactured out of whole cloth.”

What does the firm have to say about the specific claims made by Youngblood — such as the allegation that a drunken Morgan Chu made inappropriate and offensive comments to her at a firm happy hour, including remarks about her physical appearance and about “objects entering [Youngblood's] body”?

And what do ATL sources, including readers familiar with both Youngblood and Irell, think of the situation?

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Firm denies claims and moves for arbitration.

When I was in Biglaw, I always dreamed of taking part in a beauty contest. I do not really understand how it goes down, but it sounded very exciting (at least more than my fifty-state-survey.) According to YouTube, it looks something like this.

When I went to the small firm, I did not hear mention of beauty contests. Clients mostly came through referrals, and any client pitches were much more informal. For instance, I heard a story about two partners trying to get an FLSA class action, so they went to the employer’s factory and donned the poultry processor workers’ uniforms (and perhaps touched some chicken parts going down the conveyor belt). Unlike the stories of the Biglaw beauty contests, there were not lawyer teams from several other small firms lined up in their chicken-suits.

If a team from Skadden or Sidley were lined up in chicken-garb, however, how would the small-firm attorneys best position themselves to win the contest? I asked some Biglaw-turned-small-firm attorneys for their best tips….

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Just about all summer associate programs at large law firms have wrapped up by now, and 100 percent offer rates rolled in from firms across the country. That’s great news, but we were more than a little disappointed that we didn’t hear any lurid tales of summer associates gone bad this year.

Sadly, we didn’t hear about any fabulous summer associate events, either. With the high offer rates we’ve seen, we have to assume that there was enough money to go around for firms to host some excellent events, right?

Well, now that you’ve got your offer in hand (hopefully), you can spill the beans on what went down at your firm this summer….

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Smile if you received an offer!

Since our initial call for information about summer associate offer rates at major law firms, a number of people have contacted us with reports. As it turns out, there’s a lot of good news floating around out there for summer associates.

This leads us to two conclusions:

  • Biglaw firms only brought in people they could actually hire.
  • You class of 2011 people are some boring individuals.

Honestly, listening to your summer stories is like looking at the Facebook photos of a Mormon school group’s vacation to Amish country. We know that people are worried about getting offers in this tough market, but the risk-aversion of the summers this year borders on cowardice.

Live a little, have a drink, ask her for her number. It’s a job interview, not an audience with the Pope.

In any event, 100% offer rates abound. Let’s round them up….

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A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.

Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.

But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.

Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?

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