Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner

Howrey logo.JPGThe Recorder is reporting that Howrey will take on 40 lawyers from Thelen’s prestigious San Francisco construction practice:

The group — which Howrey characterized as “most of the construction practice” from Thelen — includes Thelen Chairman Stephen O’Neal, construction practice head John Heisse II, D.C. office managing partner Andrew Ness, San Francisco partner David Buoncristiani (who handles matters for client Bechtel), Los Angeles partner Robert Thum and D.C. partner David Dekker. Most of the 18 partners and about 25 associates and of counsel are in San Francisco and D.C., and the rest are in New York and Los Angeles.

Hmm… Thelen attorneys, Chairman Stephen O’Neal, Howrey — where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah! You’ll remember that the Recorder initially broke the story on O’Neal’s flirtations with Howrey.

Immediately after Thelen dissolved, we mentioned possible options for the firm:

Option 1 is the plan they have arguably been pursuing: breaking up the firm practice group by practice group to interested parties. As we reported yesterday, this is the best option to save associate jobs. However, that plan is dependent on Thelen’s banks signing-off on the plan and maintaining their line of credit. Did Stephen O’Neal’s aggressive and ultimately public pursuit of his own lifeboat at Howrey scuttle that option? Once everybody is told that the managing partner could be leaving in ten days, why would other potential suitors compete for full Thelen practice groups? Instead, it’s easier to wait for an official dissolution and cherry-pick the rainmakers. This is what happened to Heller.

I’ll pause until the Thelen people stop screaming and hitting things.

Read about other Thelen landing places, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey and Reed Smith: Latest Beneficiaries of Thelen’s Shutdown”

Morgan Lewis.JPGOn Friday, while much of the Thelen news was still focused on Nixon Peabody feasting on Thelen refugees, we heard an interesting tip from people at Morgan Lewis:

I hear we have acquired all or most of Thelen’s corporate practice? I haven’t seen any official announcements but I hear that a couple floors below me is total chaos.

Mmmm … chaos.

Today we’ve gotten a (sadly) less chaotic number of new hires:

Morgan Lewis’s New York office picked up 17 attorneys from Thelen. An email was sent Friday.

But are they heavy hitters?

I am aware of a larger group that consists of the really big hitters at Thelen in the construction group. Dekker, Buoncristiani, Heisse et al with huge books of business for core clients like Bechtel. Pillsbury has extended an offer to all these people, included Counsel and associates for a total of about 45 attorneys for mainly the SF Office [Some in DC and NY]

Strangely, MLB has rebuffed repeated requests to confirm or deny how many Thelen people they are bringing on (if any).

But once again, Thelen-East attorneys seem to be doing a lot better than their West Coast brethren. On the flip side, this weekend in NYC was cold and miserable while I’m sure the Sun once again bestowed its light and grace upon Californians. So they have that going for them.

Earlier: Nixon Peabody Picks Up 90 Thelen Attorneys (This is Different From a Merger How?)

Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis Pushes Back Bonus Decisions

comparing.jpgThis marks the end of our review of the firms in the Vault 100. This is the final bunch up for discussion (with prestige scores in parentheses):

91. Lovells (4.494)
92. Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP (4.489)
93. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP (4.478)
94. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP (4.459)
95. Kilpatrick Stockton LLP (4.452)
96. Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP (4.439)
97. Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP (4.421)
98. Seyfarth Shaw (4.399)
99. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC (4.394)
100. Fenwick & West LLP (4.373)

Discuss. Dissect. Compare. Contrast. Most of all, enjoy.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009


Thelen LLP new logo.jpgAs we reported last month, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is on the prowl for a merger partner. And just like a divorcée plunging back into the dating market, the firm is taking steps to make itself more attractive.
Like changing its name. From the firm’s press release:

In a move to present a clear and strong brand in the legal marketplace, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, an international Am Law 100 law firm, announced today that it is shortening the legal name of the firm to Thelen LLP.

The name change will be effective September 9 and will better reflect the firm’s 80-year history as one of the world’s premier law firms. A single corporate identity also has the added benefit of consistent branding in the domestic and global markets in which Thelen operates.

There are other advantages, too. As reported in today’s National Law Journal, name partner Jeffrey Steiner just defected to DLA Piper. This follows the departures of name partners Peter Brown (to Baker Hostetler) and Richard Raysman (to Otterbourg Steindler). Scrubbing their names from the firm name makes sense (and may have been required).
It’s much safer for the firm simply to be known as “Thelen.” Max Thelen isn’t going anywhere.
Thelen Announces New Firm Name [press release]
Defections continue at Thelen [National Law Journal]
Thelen Faces Departures During Merger Search [Legal Times]
Thelen, It Rhymes With Wheelin’ [WSJ Law Blog]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgAs we reported last month, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is on the prowl for a merger partner. And just like a divorcée plunging back into the dating market, the firm is taking steps to make itself more attractive.
Like changing its name. From the firm’s press release:

In a move to present a clear and strong brand in the legal marketplace, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, an international Am Law 100 law firm, announced today that it is shortening the legal name of the firm to Thelen LLP.

The name change will be effective September 9 and will better reflect the firm’s 80-year history as one of the world’s premier law firms. A single corporate identity also has the added benefit of consistent branding in the domestic and global markets in which Thelen operates.

There are other advantages, too. As reported in today’s National Law Journal, name partner Jeffrey Steiner just defected to DLA Piper. This follows the departures of name partners Peter Brown (to Baker Hostetler) and Richard Raysman (to Otterbourg Steindler). Scrubbing their names from the firm name makes sense (and may have been required).
It’s much safer for the firm simply to be known as “Thelen.” Max Thelen isn’t going anywhere.
Thelen Announces New Firm Name [press release]
Defections continue at Thelen [National Law Journal]
Thelen Faces Departures During Merger Search [Legal Times]
Thelen, It Rhymes With Wheelin’ [WSJ Law Blog]

Thelen new Thelen Reid Brown Raysman Steiner LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgThe rumor making the rounds of lawyer and staff layoffs at Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is true. We just spoke to Thelen’s co-chair, Stephen V. O’Neal, who provided confirmation and details.
The firm is in the process of laying off 26 associates and 85 staff members, on a firm-wide basis, “in response to recessionary pressures.” (Unlike President Bush, Mr. O’Neal was not afraid to use the “r” word.) Thelen has approximately 600 lawyers, per its website, so the cuts amount to roughly 4 percent of total headcount.
With respect to the location of the affected lawyers, the cuts affected all major offices. With respect to seniority — one source told us that some first- and second-year associates were fired — Mr. O’Neal said that “some were fairly junior, and some more senior.”
In terms of practice areas, Mr. O’Neal said the layoffs were spread out among groups, but with “some areas more impacted than others,” including certain parts of capital markets and cap-markets-related real estate work. He noted that other practice areas are “thriving and increasing in scope,” including renewable energy, cross-border M&A, China practice, litigation, and workouts / bankruptcy.
With respect to staff layoffs, Mr. O’Neal explained that they are due in part to the economic climate, but in part due to post-merger staff redundancies. The merger of Thelen Reid and Brown Raysman took place in late 2006, making the consolidated firm a little over a year old. But the firm did not do much cutting of staff in 2007.
Last year “was not a year when we tried to make deep cutbacks in anything, even though we had combined two good-sized firms,” explained Mr. O’Neal. “It was a year of building, coordinating, and consolidating. We wanted to understand how best to organize this new entity.” Now that the firm has a better understanding of its staffing needs, and is in the process of consolidating multiple offices in the same cities (e.g., New York), it is reducing staff redundancies.
As for associate severance packages, Mr. O’Neal stated that firm provided a “market-level” package. We floated three to four months as our understanding of market, and he said that the firm is “in that ballpark.”
“We are anticipating a profitable 2008,” said Mr. O’Neal. “We are being prudent businesspeople, and when you are dealing with recessionary pressures, you adjust your business so you will have — and maintain — a strong level of profitability, notwithstanding those pressures.”
We thank the firm for the information and candor with respect to the layoffs (i.e., not casting these departures as “performance-based”). If you have more information, feel free to email us.
Updates: A few additional nuggets:

1. As noted in the comments, total headcount includes partners and counsel, so the percentage of associates laid off is higher than 4 percent. Some of you suggest it’s around 10 percent.

2. We’re a little annoyed at Legal Pad for the lack of an ATL shout-out — in both the blogosphere and the MSM, it’s proper form to credit and/or link to the source that breaks a story first (even if you were working on the same story too) — but we’ll link to them anyway.

They have more on the Thelen layoffs here. Much of the info in their post appeared previously in ours, but they do add that the firm “is also trimming its summer program from eleven to eight weeks and is pushing the start date for first-years from September to January.”

3. A source at the firm tells us that the severance packages were in the two- to three-month range.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of layoffs (scroll down)

Chapman Cutler LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhat’s the hot new trend in Biglaw? Two-track systems for associates. They’re regarded as a sensible way for law firms to address the twin challenges of (1) higher associate salaries and (2) associate attrition (often due to a frustration with long hours).
Here’s word of the latest law firm to join the party, from NYLawyer.com (reg. req’d):

Chapman and Cutler, a Chicago-based firm with three offices and about 220 attorneys, has joined the parade of firms boosting first-year associate pay to $160,000, but the firm is taking a new path once associates reach their second year.

Second-year associates can opt for one of two compensation tracks at the firm under a new system that took effect last month, said Rick Cosgrove, who is chief executive partner at the firm. They can choose to work fewer hours at a lower pay level or more hours at a higher salary level, he said.

Cosgrove declined to specify the hours required and related pay rates under the new pay program for competitive reasons.

If you have info on the Chapman and Cutler scale that you’d be willing to share, please email us. According to a poster at Greedy Chicago:

The higher track is essentially Biglaw market, so long as you hit 2000 billables/year. The lower track is compressed to about $5k-$10k/year, depending on class year, and you need to hit 1850.

Other firms with two-track systems (click on each firm’s name for a memo and/or details): Hogan & Hartson, Wiley Rein, Fenwick & West, and Thelen (formerly Thelen Reid, and FYI, “Thelen” rhymes with “wheelin’”; see here).
Do you have an opinion about this two-tiered approach? If so, vote in our reader polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chapman and Cutler Blazes The Trail of Tiers”

* American Lawyer Media: Going, going, gone. Sold, for $630 million, to Incisive Media of the U.K. [Fishbowl NY; WSJ Law Blog]
* When animals crazy bearded men attack. [Breitbart TV (video) via Drudge Report]
* A Biglaw partner is not like a store clerk at the local convenience store. Or is he? [National Law Journal (subscription)]
* More about the late Tom Heftler, former managing partner of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. [New York Observer]

Thelen Reid Brown Raysman Steiner LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgWe recently wrote about the two-tier associate compensation system just announced by Thelen. Associates who work 2,000+ hours a year are paid on the $160,000 scale, while associates who work less remain on the old $145,000 scale.
Sounds sensible and fair, right? Well, maybe not so much. What if you WANT to be on the faster track, earning a market-rate salary, but the firm won’t let you? We hear that Thelen is effectively telling some of its associates, “Please, guys, don’t work so hard — ’cause we can’t make it worth your while anyway!”
Here’s one source at the firm on how the two-tier system is being received:

Most people seem cool with it because it included hours-based bonuses for hitting 2000, 2100, and 2200. But there are some slow practice groups in certain offices where a decent number of associates got put on the lower tier, and those people are less happy.

Indeed. We received an email from one of those less-than-happy campers. It’s pretty scathing — but deservedly so.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Thelen Reid Associates: On the Trail of Tiers”

Thelen Reid Brown Raysman Steiner LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgAssociates at Thelen Reid were clamoring for a post shining the spotlight on their firm. Here are some representative emails:

“Since your posting on Bingham worked so well, how about starting one on Thelen? The silence from OTC [Office of the Chair] is deafening, and people are super-disgruntled.”

“We’ve waited long enough here, and they haven’t said anything. We’ve come up badly in who knows how many articles. We’re the highest ranked firm (#17) on the Cal Law 25 not to raise, and several below us already have. And several firms that would be below us on the AmLaw 100 (we would be #69, but AmLaw refuses to count firms as merged unless the merger happened by a certain date, and our merger was officially Dec 1, 2006) post-merger have raised, and we haven’t. And our PPP [profits per partner] is quoted in one article as $860K and in another as $850K, $15K-$25K behind Pillsbury who has raised.”

“[A]lthough management hasn’t said anything, popular opinion is that they will raise first years to $160K and compress everyone else across the board, mainly because that’s what they always do. I don’t quite understand how they feel they have “matched market” without lockstep salaries.”

We meant to do a Thelen Reid post some time ago, but we never got around to it. And perhaps now one is no longer needed, since the firm has matched — sort of.
More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Thelen Reid, and A Tale of Two Tiers”

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