Winston & Strawn

Accept your offers. It’s wise advice for 2Ls going through fall recruiting, and it’s wise advice for partners of the rapidly unraveling Howrey law firm, most of whom have offers to join Winston & Strawn. Last weekend, Winston made offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners, with responses requested in 21 days.

Yesterday we mentioned that a Howrey partnership conference call took place on Tuesday. During that meeting, firm chairman Robert Ruyak and Winston & Strawn managing partner Thomas Fitzgerald apparently urged Howrey partners with Winston offers to accept them as soon as possible, according to The Recorder.

Many Howrey partners have already left for other firms, as chronicled in these pages. A group of eleven attorneys recently departed for Morgan Lewis, for example.

Of the 200 to 230 Howrey partners who remain, how many are likely to go with Winston?

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In our last story on the trials and tribulations of Howrey, we expressed doubt that a full-on merger between Howrey and Winston & Strawn would take place. We suggested that Winston would probably wind up “picking up large chunks of Howrey, maybe even entire offices — just like Sonnenschein picked up 100 lawyers from Thacher Proffitt, during TPW’s final days.”

And that appears to be what’s happening now. According to The Recorder, Winston extended individual offers to a little over 75 percent of Howrey partners over the weekend.

And what about the remaining 25 percent? A recruiter familiar with the situation told The Recorder that they either have conflicts issues or aren’t interested in winding up at Winston.

What else do we know about the situation?

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Developments are flying fast and furious out of Howrey. Yesterday we passed along reports that Howrey’s merger talks with Winston & Strawn were off. Today we’re hearing that they might be back on (or that they never stopped in the first place).

According to the U.K.-based Legal Week (via the ABA Journal), the talks are ongoing. The parties are represented by Thomas Fitzgerald, managing partner of Winston, and Sean Boland, vice chairman of Howrey. Winston is apparently attracted to antitrust at Howrey, an area where Winston wants to expand.

Corroboration of continued Winston / Howrey discussions from a U.S. source, plus some interesting internal emails from Howrey leadership, after the jump.

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(Plus two interesting internal emails.)


When we last wrote about goings-on at Howrey, the once-strong law firm that’s now experiencing troubled times, we mentioned the possibility of partner losses in the Chicago office. The firm pushed back on this, denying knowledge of any imminent defections in the Windy City.

It now seems, however, that additional partner departures may be on the horizon — in Chicago, and elsewhere too. As reported in Crain’s Chicago Business (via WSJ Law Blog), the Chi-town powerhouse of Winston & Strawn recently discussed a possible merger with Howrey — but then decided against that approach, opting instead to pick off specific groups and partners from Howrey.

The Howrey situation is starting to look a lot like what happened to Heller Ehrman. A well-respected firm with a widely admired culture encounters business difficulties. Key partners and groups (especially IP) start leaving for greener pastures or more stable platforms. A potential white knight emerges — Mayer Brown in Heller’s case, and Winston & Strawn in Howrey’s — but then decides to order a la carte from the menu of partners, practices and offices, instead of going for the chef’s tasting menu.

A distressed employee of the firm sets up a blog to serve as a clearinghouse for updates. Heller had Heller Highwater, and Howrey had Howrey Doin’.

But now it looks like Howrey Doin’ is… done. If you surf over to http://howreydoin.wordpress.com/, the blog’s former address, you learn that “[t]he authors have deleted this blog.”

What the heck happened? We have a statement from the author of the blog, as well as a response from the firm.

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We want to hear about your firm’s bonus news, even if it’s old. If we haven’t reported on it yet, we want to know about it. (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.)

Here’s some old bonus news (literally “last year’s” news). A few weeks ago, Shearman & Sterling announced its bonuses. They essentially matched the Cravath scale, but with the caveat (also issued last year) that they are at least partly “merit-based” — i.e., adjusted up or down based on performance. The S&S bonuses are being paid out on January 14.

Some Shearman associates might be upset by the lack of upward movement on bonuses. But at least one of them probably doesn’t care that much, since he enjoyed other income in 2010.

I’ll take “Lawyers Who Have Appeared on Jeopardy” for $1000, Alex….

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(And… Jeopardy!)

Shaun Ellis is getting sued over a snowball fight.

* The fight for the future begins: the FCC is going to deal with net neutrality today. Are we going to end up with a red pill versus blue pill scenario? [Media Decoder / New York Times]

* Super-agent Jim Wiatt, former head of the William Morris talent agency, is suing Winston & Strawn and former Winston partner Jonathan Star Bristol. [ABA Journal]

* With the threat of a Cuomo lawsuit, Ernst & Young is totally wishing that it didn’t ignore those Repo 105s on the Lehman books right about now. [Going Concern]

* For most law firms, the Twitterverse is still a poor and misunderstood red-headed step child – the kind not even worthy of a single beating. [Corporate Counsel]

* It’s a good thing Above the Law doesn’t have a repeal amendment, or the commentariat would try to overturn my employment. [CBS News]

* What does this pedophile want for Christmas? A 12-year-old stocking stuffer. The author of the how-to guide for child touchers was arrested under Florida law. [CNN Justice]

* Shaun Ellis is getting sued for throwing a snow ball. Okay, so it was a snow boulder, but it looks like the only thing that got hurt was the victim’s ego. [New York Post]

* What this lonely Jew is going to do for Christmas: get drunk, eat Chinese food, and read about superhero law. Because really, I’m just that nerdy. [New York Times]

Back in June, we wrote about an amusing effort by Winston & Strawn to rewrite history. The firm edited an historical press release to omit all mention of sketchy lawyer Jonathan Bristol, who joined Winston as a partner from Thelen.

Now Winston has even more reason to be embarrassed by its former partner. Earlier today, Jonathan Bristol was both sued by the SEC, for aiding and abetting fraud, and arrested on federal criminal charges, for money laundering. The civil suit and criminal charges arose out of Bristol’s legal work for Kenneth Starr — no, not the former Whitewater independent counsel, but the money manager to the stars who stole money from his celebrity clients.

(Interestingly enough, Ken Starr the fraudster — he’s pleaded guilty, so no need for “alleged” here — is also a lawyer. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School.)

The indictment against Jonathan Bristol, brought by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, has some juicy details. For example: How much did Bristol earn while at Winston?

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Here’s some nice news to counteract all the unhappiness over associate bonuses (not Cahill’s, which were great, but Cravath’s and all the Cravath followers).

There’s no word yet, at least as far as we know, on bonuses at Winston & Strawn. But for incoming associates who just passed the bar, Winston is congratulating them with bottles of champagne.

You’re lawyers; you suffer from status anxiety. So right now you’re all wondering: What brand of champagne?

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A Supreme Court clerkship is, in the words of Adam Liptak of the New York Times, “the most coveted credential in American law.” When SCOTUS clerks leave their posts at the Court to join private law firms, they get signing bonuses of as much as $250,000 (on top of normal associate salaries and bonuses).

But typically they join their firms as associates (or maybe counsel, if they have a few extra years of practice in addition to clerking). How many clerks come in to Biglaw as partners?

As reported yesterday — by Tony Mauro in The BLT and by Marisa Kashino in Washingtonian magazine, among others — at least one Supreme Court clerk from the Term just ended, October Term 2009, is going to straight into a partnership at a major law firm.

Meet Elizabeth Papez. She clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in OT 2009. Now she’s joining the D.C. office of Winston & Strawn, where she will practice in commercial and appellate litigation, with a focus on intellectual property and energy law, as well as government relations.

We interview Papez about her interesting career path, after the jump.

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Snoopy works from home instead of going to the MetLife Building.

This morning we reported on bedbugs at Winston & Strawn’s New York office. Alas, the problem might be much larger than we initially anticipated.

That’s because Winston & Strawn is located in the iconic MetLife building, at 200 Park Avenue in Manhattan. After this morning’s post went up, a spokesperson from Winston told us that all inquires about the bed bugs were being referred to the building’s landlord, real estate giant Tishman Speyer.

Are bedbugs crawling around the whole MetLife building? We don’t know yet; Tishman Speyer hasn’t returned our phone calls.

But if bed bugs are a threat to all the tenants of the MetLife building, there are three other law firms that could be getting very itchy…

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