Winston & Strawn

Well that didn’t take long, did it? On Tuesday afternoon, we wrote about associates at Winston & Strawn who were upset over the lack of news on seniority-based salary bumps. Since we’re well into a new year, associates at top law firms should be getting raises, with first-years becoming second-years ($160K to $170K), second-years becoming third-years ($170K to $185), etc. But the Winston tipsters hadn’t heard anything — even though historically they’ve received pay raise news in early February, and now it’s mid-March.

Today, however, the Winston associates received some good news — very good news, in fact. “Salary memos went out today,” one Winston source reported. “The bottom line is that those who were not at market rate now are. They’ve abandoned the ‘merits-based’ system and have gone back to lockstep.”

Wow. Is merit-based compensation becoming a casualty of the economic recovery? Back when merit-based systems were all the rage, we created a category on ATL called Killing Lockstep. Perhaps now it’s time to create ones called Killing Killing Lockstep, or Lockstep Resurrected?

Regardless of whether or not this becomes a trend throughout Biglaw, Winston associates are happy — and grateful….

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As we’ve explained before, we want to hear about your law firm’s bonus news, even if it’s old. As long as we haven’t written it up yet, please consider it fair game. (Use our site search box in the upper-right-hand corner, or scroll through our Associate Bonus Watch archives, to see which announcements we’ve already covered.)

One firm that announced bonuses many moons ago: Winston & Strawn. This was well before the spring bonus phenomenon took hold, so the Cravath 2010 year-end bonuses were still the benchmark.

Find out what Winston did — and learn about an additional issue that is bugging some Winston associates (and maybe associates at other firms, too)….

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(And an additional issue about base salaries.)

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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How can you be a happy lawyer?

* Is concern for “privacy” simply a justification for censorship on the internet? Some thoughts from a lawyer for Google. [Peter Fleischer: Privacy...? via Kashmir Hill / Forbes]

* What’s the secret to lawyer happiness? And no, it doesn’t involve illegal drugs or porn stars (Charlie Sheen isn’t a lawyer). [Slaw via Legal Blog Watch]

* Want to start your own law blog? Read this interesting interview with BL1Y (a regular in the ATL comments section). [Lawyerist]

* Superstar criminal defense lawyer John Dowd, the Akin Gump partner who successfully got Monica Goodling (among many other clients) out of legal trouble, offered a rousing defense of Raj Rajaratnam today. [Dealbreaker]

Jonathan Bristol

* Ex-Winston & Strawn partner Jonathan Bristol, former counsel to money manager / fraudster Kenneth Starr, has reached a plea agreement with S.D.N.Y. prosecutors. [New York Law Journal via Summary Judgments]

* Elsewhere in Ken Starr news, it seems that some celebs are getting hit with IRS tax liens as a result of their ties to him. [TaxProf Blog]

* Congratulations to a 3L at Harvard Law School, Nneka Ukpai, who trounced the prosecution at trial and won an acquittal for her client. [Yolanda Young / On Being a Black Lawyer]

* Congratulations to a 3L at NYU Law and future S.D.N.Y. law clerk, Eli Northrup, who belongs to a hip-hop band called Pants Velour — which has, in the words of our tipster, “captured the magic of Charlie Sheen as only music can.” [YouTube]

* This week, A Round Tuit includes a nice round-up of opinions on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Westboro Baptist Church case (Snyder v. Phelps). [Infamy or Praise]

We’re hearing reports — not yet confirmed, so please take them with the proverbial grain (or shaker) of salt — that Winston & Strawn has rescinded some or all of its offers to partners of Howrey.

The supposed catalyst for the collapse: antitrust star Sean Boland, who had been leading the talks on the Howrey side, pulling out of the deal. It has been rumored that he might take his team not to Winston but to Baker Botts (which has already absorbed other Howrey talent).

What we do know for certain is that the partner exodus from Howrey continues. Here is the latest confirmed news.

UPDATE: Various updates have been (and are still being) appended — after the jump….

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As we mentioned in our last story on the embattled Howrey law firm, the remaining partners will vote this week on whether to wind down the 55-year-old shop. According to Am Law Daily, that vote is set to take place on Wednesday.

For the past few weeks, Winston & Strawn has been waiting in the wings, hoping to help itself to Howrey’s healthiest parts. But as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many of the strongest partners and practice groups have already defected to other firms.

Let’s discuss the latest developments — and also learn the fate of current 3Ls holding offers from Howrey….

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The spinning of the revolving door at the beleaguered Howrey law firm is making our heads spin here at Above the Law. Keeping track of all the partner departures is becoming quite the challenge. We’ve collected some links about the latest partner defections, after the jump.

At this rate, it’s not clear how many lawyers will be left for “rescue” by white knight Winston & Strawn. (Protip: check the armor for bedbugs.)

Here’s some new (but hardly surprising) information: Howrey has canceled its summer program. Yes, the famous Howrey Bootcamp, touted by the firm as “[f]ar more intense and rewarding than traditional summer associate programs,” and offering “an entirely unique approach to associate recruitment and training.”

Bootcamp participants received intensive litigation training — and inspirational poetry from firm CEO Robert Ruyak, which we share with you below….

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The Howrey saga rolls on. The story has been interesting to cover, since it involves some colorful characters and illustrates a number of trends that are reshaping the large-law-firm landscape (as noted in the recent Washington Post piece on Howrey). But at a certain point, we’re just going to want some closure on this story.

Well, a conclusion may be close at hand. The contours of an absorption of Howrey by Winston & Strawn are starting to become more clear.

Let’s take a look at what’s on the table….

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A report surfaced yesterday claiming that Howrey has now more or less given itself an end date: March 1, according to the report on Shark Tank Legal.

Partners who have received offers to join Winston & Strawn are expected to accept them by March 1st. After that, Howrey will be in full dissolution mode.

Even Howrey people must want this thing to just be over already. But before the end, we could see more ugliness, like segregated floors to keep the partners with safe landing spots safe from their desperate colleagues…

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Yesterday we passed along a rumor that Barbara Werther and some of her colleagues in government contracts were leaving Howrey. We have since received additional confirmation of this report. According to one source, Werther informed Howrey partners of her departure on Thursday, and her office was cleaned out on Friday.

As we previously mentioned, a meeting with associates and firm chairman Robert Ruyak was also scheduled for yesterday. What happened on that conference call?

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