Robert Ruyak

* If you’re looking for an easy résumé line, then consider joining the Supreme Court bar, an elite organization that doesn’t check to see if its members are still alive. All you need is three years of practice, two signatures, and $200. [Associated Press]

* Stanley Chesley, the master of disaster himself, was disbarred for his “shocking and reprehensible” conduct in a fen-phen case. His wife, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott of the Southern District of Ohio, must be oh so pleased. [Courier-Journal]

* Howrey like dem apples now? Some of Howrey’s former partners, including ex-chairman Robert Ryuak, all lined up to make deals to delay lawsuits from the firm’s bankruptcy trustee, Allan Diamond. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* This Biglaw firm’s future was just a little bit dimmer in 2012, with a 4.9 percent dip in profits per equity partner. This is unexpected from Milbank, a number 3 seed in our March Madness competition. [Am Law Daily]

* The NRA’s New York affiliate filed suit challenging the state’s new gun laws, claiming that a ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment — because this is clearly what the founders intended. [Reuters]

* Raj Rajaratnam’s younger brother, Rengan Rajaratnam, was indicted yesterday in a federal insider-trading scheme tied to the Galleon case. You can’t fault the guy, he was just trying to keep it in the family. [Bloomberg]

* Sorry, Dean Boland, but you’re not going anywhere. A judge denied the attorney’s request to withdraw from Paul Ceglia’s Facebook case. He must be wishing there were a dislike button now. [Law 360 (sub. req.)]

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. We still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2011.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of twelve (although you’ll see only eleven options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year: The Finalists!”

He was clearly the salesman-in-chief, and he did a darn good job at it. I remember being told that despite the fact that the economy was essentially collapsing around everyone’s heads, 2008 was going to come in well over budget with record revenues and profits.

Andrew Ness, former managing partner of the D.C. office of Thelen LLP, commenting to Washingtonian magazine about former Howrey chairman Robert Ruyak, the poetry-writing power lawyer who lured Ness and his Thelen colleagues over to Howrey.
(Ness is now a Jones Day partner.)

(Additional excerpts from and discussion of Marisa Kashino’s interesting article, A Tale of Two Law Firms: Hogan & Hartson and Howrey, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Lawyer, Poet, Salesman”


Robert Ruyak

One of the most colorful characters in the saga of Howrey LLP, the once-thriving law firm that dissolved this past March, was Robert Ruyak, former chairman of the firm. How many law firm leaders write inspirational poetry for their summer associates?

Alas, many at Howrey found Ruyak’s leadership to be less than inspiring. He was frequently cast as the villain in the demise of the firm, which he led for over a decade before its dissolution. As noted by the WSJ Law Blog, Ruyak was criticized “[i]n some corners of the blogosphere” for “not respond[ing] swiftly enough to declines in the firm’s productivity” and “not sufficiently shar[ing] management responsibilities with his fellow partners.” According to the American Lawyer, he caused the firm to overexpand, taking on too much risk — in the form of lateral partners and contingency cases, among other things — when it should have been buckling down for tough times ahead.

Today brings news that Robert Ruyak has found a new professional home. Where’s he going?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Robert Ruyak, Ex-Chairman of Howrey, Finds a New Home”

Paul Oekten

* “How can I keep other people from stealing my idea?” If you’re hoping to do so through copyright law, good luck. [Law of Fashion]

* Howrey CEO Robert Ruyak blamed alternative fee arrangements for contributing to Howrey’s downfall, but Jay Shepherd isn’t buying it. [The Client Revolution]

* Speaking of Howrey, former partners have been picked up in recent days by Venable, Covington, and Arnold & Porter. [Am Law Daily]

* Paul Oetken, the openly gay New York lawyer nominated to the S.D.N.Y. bench, has received a “unanimously qualified” rating from the ABA. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* For-profit colleges are under legal attack; could law schools be next? [STLtoday.com]

* What do great jazz musicians and successful trial lawyers share in common? [Underdog]

* What are some strategies for playing hooky from your Biglaw job? [Corporate Monkey Lawyer]

* It’s Pi Day. Or is it Pie Day? How about everybody eats 3.14 slices of pie so they’re covered both ways. [Pls Clarify via Blawg Review]

* It’s NCAA tournament time. Join our group “Above the Law Blog” with the password “abovethelaw” and fill out a bracket. The top three finishers will get ATL t-shirts (and mad respect from lawyers who like to procrastinate everywhere). [ESPN]

Whoops. Even though the polls closed about a week ago, we forgot to announce our Lawyer of the Month for February.

So let’s get to it. Who is Above the Law’s latest honoree?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “February Lawyer of the Month: We’re Starting To See A Pattern Here”

* Howrey’d come to this? Robert Ruyak’s ruminations on his law firm’s fall. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Speaking of Howrey, it’s only the latest of several major law firms to go from Am Law 100 status to dissolution. Take a swim in the Biglaw Dead Pool. [Law Shucks]

* Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, has been hit with his biggest sexual harassment lawsuit ever — one seeking $250 million in damages. [Gawker]

* Bess Levin on the Raj Rajaratnam trial: “People helping people is all this is about.” [Dealbreaker]

Raj Rajaratnam

* “How Ohio State Athletics Flunked the Bar Exam.” Or: I’m going to wait until Elie returns from vacation before tackling sports stories. [Off Tackle Empire]

* Speaking of Elie, we already know his answer to the question posed by Francis G.X. Pileggi: “Does Delaware need another law school?” [Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog]

* Here’s a sports-related story I can understand. This fact pattern, dubbed the case of the “wayward weiner” or the “fateful frank,” belongs on a torts final exam. [ABA Journal]

* Professorial catfights can be so much fun. Watch Professor Stephen Bainbridge go after Professor Brad DeLong. [Professor Bainbridge]

The partners of the law firm of Howrey LLP, founded in 1956, have voted to dissolve the existing Howrey partnership. The dissolution will take effect on March 15, 2011, according to a press release that was issued earlier tonight by the firm.

The firm’s chairman and CEO, Robert Ruyak, has not been the most popular person during Howrey’s long and painful disintegration (which arguably started over a year ago, with some key partner defections). But few would disagree with the statements he made this evening.

“This is a very difficult time for our firm, for our attorneys and for our staff,” Ruyak said. “Many of us have spent our entire legal careers at Howrey and remain proud of what we built. We find some solace in the fact that our people have been so well received by their new firms. They are first class professionals and deserve the respect accorded to leaders in their fields.”

We extend our sympathies to everyone at Howrey who will be affected by the firm’s demise, and we wish them the best of luck as they search for new workplaces. Many superb lawyers and staff have worked at Howrey over the past 55 years, and as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many are being courted and welcomed by other law firms — a testament to their talents and abilities.

Additional commentary and links, as well as the full press release, appear below.

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Yes. The voting started today at 11:30 AM (Eastern time) and remains underway, according to Am Law Daily. We will keep you posted, either by adding updates to this post or publishing a new post.

Meanwhile, the CEO (and poet laureate) of Howrey, Robert Ruyak, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal about the apparent downfall of his firm. As summarized by the WSJ Law Blog, Ruyak blamed Howrey’s troubles on a combination of (1) experiments with contingency fees and alternative fee arrangements, (2) impatient and risk-averse partners, and (3) discovery vendors.

Are you finding it hard to keep track of where all the Howrey partners are ending up? Join the club. Luckily, there’s a new resource out there that can help….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Going to Vote on Dissolution?”

Partners at the differently abled challenged Howrey law firm continue to leave the reservation in droves. Last night, Am Law Daily reported on the departure of antitrust litigatrix Roxann Henry. She’s joining Dewey & LeBoeuf, which has picked up a number of Howrey refugees (including Henry Bunsow, former vice-chairman of the firm).

What’s next for Howrey? According to Legal Week, the remaining partners plan to vote next week on whether to wind down the firm. (For a discussion of possible Howrey endgames, see Am Law Daily, which interviewed partnership law expert Robert Hillman, a professor at UC Davis.)

After the dissolution vote, Howrey can focus on talking to Winston & Strawn about which associates and staff Winston might want (as well as other assets, like the Howrey name). As previously discussed, a few weeks ago Winston made offers to about 75 percent of Howrey’s partners. It looks like about 35 percent of Howrey’s remaining partners have agreed to join Winston, and Legal Week reports that confirmation letters went out to them last weekend.

In our last post, we opened up a Howrey haiku contest. Let’s look at the winners….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Kemosabe: Rivals Claim More Scalps, As Dissolution Vote Looms (Plus the Howrey haiku contest winners.)

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