Ralph Baxter

Over its long and storied history, Davis Polk & Wardwell hasn’t hired many lateral partners. Most of its partners are homegrown, joining the firm right out of law school and spending their entire careers there (like the two most recently promoted partners).

But this has started to change over the past few years, as managing partner Thomas Reid discussed in an August 2011 interview with Am Law Daily. In the August 2010 to August 2011 period, DPW hired a half-dozen prominent lateral partners.

And the lateral hiring spree continues (although not without the occasional snag). Let’s hear about Davis Polk’s latest high-profile hire, a new lateral partner at Paul Hastings, and an addition to the leadership of Orrick….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Notable New Names at Davis Polk, Paul Hastings, and Orrick”

Sorry, the Layoff Lady hasn’t gone away.

Sorry, folks — we couldn’t make it two full weeks without a story about law firm layoffs. We continue to hear reports about them, which we publish as we get sufficient corroboration for each one. If you have information to share, please email us or text us (646-820-8477; texts only, not a voice line).

Thus far, layoffs have hit support staff the hardest. Junior staffers often bear the brunt, since some of the layoffs are seniority-based.

But senior people, including law firm management, are not immune to the cuts. One law firm recently laid off two executives, along with about twenty staffers…

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Habemus Papam! The white smoke is rising over at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which just announced who will succeed Ralph Baxter as chairman of the 1,100-attorney, 25-office firm.

So who is Orrick’s new chair, and what do we know about him? For starters, he’s quite young….

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Scenic waterfront of Wheeling, West Virginia. And the town got a traffic light too!

We’ve written extensively about the offices of Orrick in Wheeling, West Virginia. It’s the place where non-partner track associates go to perform the kind of quasi-paralegal tasks that you really shouldn’t have to pay somebody $160,000 a year to get done.

Here’s the thing about these “onshore,” “insourcing” operations: they are successful. Ridiculously successful. In an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter called the decision to open the Wheeling center “one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made for the firm and our clients.” And that’s coming from a man who made the smart decision not to merge with Dewey Ballantine.

That’s why every Biglaw managing partner, and every law student thinking of taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to law school, should pay attention to what’s going on in Wheeling…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Doesn’t Every Biglaw Firm Have An Office In Wheeling, West Virginia?”

Hey boss, plz stop thnx.

* Global agribusiness group Monsanto Co was awarded $1 billion in a patent infringement case against DuPont for improperly duplicating some kind of crazy seed technology. [New York Times]

* For particularly thick-headed employers who don’t understand it’s a bad idea to ask employees for Facebook passwords, now Illinois will fine them $200 for doing so. [Chicago Tribune]

* A federal judge in Washington sanctioned well-known plaintiff’s attorney Joy Ann Bull for filing grossly inflated fee statements. She was consequently asked to resign her partnership at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. Welcome to the breadline! [LegalNewsline]

* Should a trial judge who is a Brooklyn Law grad recuse himself from a case against Brooklyn Law filed by Brooklyn Law alumni? Meh… [National Law Journal]

* As Ralph Baxter nears retirement, who will be chosen to lead Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe? [Am Law Daily]

* The Ninth Circuit already issued an injunction against Arizona’s new late-term abortion ban. Like they say, it’s all about shakin’ hands and killing kissin’ babies. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The psychiatrist James Holmes was seeing at the University of Colorado was so alarmed by his behavior sometime before his alleged shooting spree that she notified the school’s “threat assessment team,” but apparently nothing was done. Looks like someone missed the assessment boat, by like, and ocean or two. [Denver Post]

There was no rational foundation to do [the spring bonuses]. It was not as if suddenly all the law firms in The Am Law 100 were minting money.

Ralph Baxter, longtime chairman and CEO of Orrick (shortly before he was overheard screaming at the Wheeling career associates to mint more money).

You'd smile too if you got home in time for dinner.

Today’s New York Times has a front-page story by Catherine Rampell entitled At Well-Paying Law Firms, a Low-Paid Corner. The article focuses on the phenomenon of “career associates” or “permanent associates” at large law firms. These lawyers are not eligible for partnership consideration and earn less than traditional associates, but they do enjoy a better “lifestyle,” in terms of more-reasonable hours and greater control over their schedules.

These positions generally pay around $60,000, significantly lower than the $160,000 that’s standard at top Biglaw shops. They are typically located not in New York or Chicago or L.A., but in more out-of-the-way places — such as Wheeling, West Virginia, where Orrick has its back-office operations, or Dayton, Ohio, where WilmerHale has “in-sourced” much of its work.

We mentioned the Times article earlier today. Morning Dockette was not impressed: “Career associates get to have ‘lifestyle’ jobs at Biglaw firms — but really, what kind of a lifestyle is it when you have to live in a crappy city with an even crappier salary?” Elie has also criticized these positions, characterizing them as “barely legal” jobs.

But such criticism might be overly harsh. Let’s look on the bright side….

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Well, that was fast. Last week we learned of preliminary merger discussions taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. But this morning, spokespersons for each firm released the following joint statement (which differed only in which firm’s name came first):

[The firms] have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed.

For an assessment of the pros and cons of an Akin / Orrick union, see here.

So what exactly happened here?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Orrick and Akin Call Off Their Merger Talks”

Yesterday we discussed the merger talks that are currently taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. We solicited your views on a possible combination, and we received some interesting feedback (in the comments and by other means).

Let’s start with the happy stuff. Here are some positive takes on an Orrick / Akin merger, from the comments (yes, positivity in the comments — it happens):

  • “I have been at both firms and I believe it would be a good fit both geographically and practice-wise. Orrick is almost all about finance, and finance is one key area that Akin lacks real depth.” [FN1]

  • “#1 Vacuum company in America + #1 brand of cocktail shrimp = unstoppable legal force.”

But it’s not all vacuums and cocktail shrimp, sunshine and puppies. Insiders with knowledge of both firms also identified downsides to a possible Orrick / Akin merger….

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