Back at the beginning of the legal recession, when Heller and Thelen were collapsing, there was talk that a number of firms would either have to fold or engage in mega-mergers.
For the most part, that hasn’t happened. But today, Legal Week is reporting that Hogan & Hartson and London-based Lovells are at least talking about merging:
Lovells and Hogan & Hartson are in the early stages of merger talks, Legal Week can reveal, with the firms’ management teams currently assessing the case for a transformative union.
Lovells is to discuss the proposed tie-up with the top 25 US law firm at a meeting of its international executive on 28 October. A deal would create a top 10 global practice in revenue terms.
With firms of this size, one imagines that merger talks will be complicated. And there is a lot that will have to happen for these firms to go from talking to combining. But if all the pitfalls are avoided, how big of a firm could we be looking at?
Details after the jump.
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Ed. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to Letter from London, a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at email@example.com.
On his recent trip to the US, Prime Minister Brown presented President Obama with an ornamental pen holder, carved from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.
Maybe Obama was angry at the UK because London-based firm Clifford Chance laid off 35 business support staff from its New York and DC offices at the end of last year. But news of that only emerged last week — after Obama purchased the DVDs.
Perhaps Obama has a thing against the British. We do, after all, “sound gay and smell like Indian food” — as one poster on last Monday’s column observed. But your new president doesn’t seem the sort of chap to be burdened by petty prejudices — aside from, of course, his hatred of the disabled.
Or could it be that Obama is pissed off that he had to meet Brown instead of Tony Blair? Yeah, that makes sense. Americans f**king love Tony Blair.
Something you might not know about Tony Blair, after the jump.
Ed. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to the inaugural installment of “Letter from London,” a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firms in the U.S. often try to keep their layoffs nice and quiet, with instructions not to communicate with the media or the odd scare tactic… Cousins, you’re not alone.
A recent meeting between DLA Piper’s UK management team and employee reps over its stingy redundancy package got off to a bad start when London Managing Partner Catherine Usher pleaded for “ideas on how we can keep the information confidential” — words which were leaked, along with the rest of the minutes, to just about every legal news publication in London last week.
Some quick background: DLA, which launched its second redundancy consultation in January (with criteria including number of sick days taken), is paying out the statutory minimum to UK-based lawyers who get the chop. This equates to one week’s pay (capped at £350 a week) for each year’s service. By way of comparison, Linklaters is said to be offering three weeks’ pay (at the full rate, without any cap) for every year with the firm, plus three months’ notice. DLA’s US arm is also being considerably more generous.
More of the DLA minutes:
Meeting begins with Usher urging associates to stop leaking things to the press.
Employee rep points out link between firm’s less-than-generous redundancy package and press leaks.
Heated exchanges ensue.
Hapless HR manager tries to pacify the crowd, but her misguided recommendations that (a) associates go out for some morale-boosting team drinks and (b) the fired ones use an “an advice line” which provides “guidance about the impact of redundancy and what to do next” only make situation worse.
Anger boils over and Usher and HR Manager set upon by frenzied mob.
You didn’t seriously think we’d get through an entire day of layoff stories without Cadwalader getting into the mix? Legal Week is now reporting that Cadwalader has decided to send 16 of its London employees into “redundancy consultation.
The firm said three lawyers, three paralegals and 10 support staff are subject to the redundancy consultation. A statement read: “Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has today launched a redundancy consultation with certain employees in its London office, made up of both lawyers and support staff. We regret the potential loss of these talented professionals who have served the firm well. The firm remains committed to London and rebuilding the office.”
Last year, we reported on a nice perk for Cravath associates abroad: a hefty cost of living allowance, which had junior associates in London making over $300,000.
It looks like the half-Skadden mentality has made its way across the Atlantic. From a tipster:
Cravath Swaine & Moore cuts its COLA in the London office from $110,000 to $60,000 as of January 1, 2009. [A]ll the associates, one after one, where called into the office of a partner, Philip Boeckman, to receive the news. The reason mentioned for the cut is the evolution of the dollar-pound exchange rate.
The COLA is the same for all associates in London regardless of the level of seniority. The COLA gets paid together with the base salary on a bi-weekly basis.
That’s a big cut for the 20 associates in the London office. Before the COLA was raised to $110,000 last year, it was at $85,000.
Clearly the firm’s partners have now got wise. This week associates were hauled in one by one and told that the COLA would be reduced by $50k from 1st January, in response to weakness of Sterling. One associate complained to RollOnFriday that this comes on top of bonuses being halved and the ski weekend being cancelled, and says that these measures “pretty badly affect associate morale”. OK, no one likes to get less wedge – but low morale because of only getting £40k to live in London, when everyone else is being made redundant? Bring out the violins.
The other side of the pond just got a lot less attractive.
And now, some layoff news from the other side of the pond, courtesy of TheLawyer.com:
DLA Piper is conducting a firmwide review of staffing levels, resulting in five redundancies in the firm’s technology, media and communications (TMC) group.
The layoffs, which were all in London, include three assistants, a legal director and an associate.
The cuts, which were all voluntary, coincided with the loss of IP partner Richard Penfold, who left for US firm Heller Ehrman. A DLA spokesperson wished Penfold good luck. He joins Heller’s year-old City office as its eleventh partner.
Those Brits can be so confusing sometimes. The headline refers to five lawyers being made “redundant,” but some of those job titles — “assistant,” “legal director” — sound like positions that would be held by non-lawyers in the United States.
And the “cuts” are described as “voluntary.” What does it mean for layoffs to be voluntary? Isn’t their involuntary nature the whole point of layoffs? DLA review sees five TMC lawyers redundant [The Lawyer]
British barrister Max Mosley is the president of the International Automobile Federation (F.I.A.). When he’s not overseeing Formula One, he’s allegedly into sadomasochistic sex play. Unfortunately for him, a $5,000 “party” that he arranged was caught on hidden cameras by News of the World, a British tabloid. The encounter, now on YouTube, involved German prison guards and lots of spanking.
Mosley is now seeking punitive damages from News of the World for invasion of privacy — and for giving the story a Nazi spin. Such suits are almost never a good move from a PR-standpoint, since the trial brings even more attention to the source of embarrassment. Now every one from the New York Times to ESPN is reporting on it.
Taking the witness stand at the start of a two-week High Court hearing, Mosley said he had paid $5,000 for the “party,” but insisted no Nazi fantasies were involved. The News of the World said participants wore German-style uniforms and spoke in German as they acted out scenes involving prisoners and guards.
Mosley said he and the women had acted out a German prison scenario, but without any military aspect.
Next time, Mosley should probably stick to British prison scenarios, to avoid the possible Nazi confusion.
The Nazi allegations are especially sensitive because Mosley is the son of the late Oswald Mosley, leader of Britain’s fascist movement before World War II and a friend of Adolf Hitler.
“There was not even a hint of that,” Mosley said of the Nazi claims. He said he could “think of few things more unerotic than Nazi role-play.”
But, apparently, having a prison guard tell him to bend over a bench does the trick. More salacious details, after the jump.
Still no bonus announcement from Mayer Brown. But check out this intriguing email, sent out in the last hour:
From: D’Esposito, Jr., Julian C. Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:41 PM To: FW-Assocs; FW-Cnsl Cc: Holzhauer, James D.; Geller, Kenneth S.; Maher, Paul; Favoriti, Gail A.; Pepper, Margery; Madden, Emilie S.; Dabrowski, Heidi M.; Reichert, Kathleen S.; Harris, Robert; Staiano, David; Couleur, Nancy Jo; Belic, Indira; Burdett, Shannon T.; Burkes, Eugenia; Corby, Candice; Harris, Russell; Holthaus, John H.; Kennedy, Clinton D.; Kislow, Connie; Ku, Alice; Loessl, Angela-Katrin; Tulic, Vesna; Watson, John; Wells, Stephen R.
Subject: Firmwide Meeting on Friday, December 21
Please plan to attend a Firmwide video presentation by the office of the Chairman on December 21 that will describe an exciting, transformational event for the Firm. The meeting will begin promptly at 8am PST, 10am CST, 11 am EST, 2pm BRST, 4 GMT, 5 CET and 12 am Saturday HKST. The Director of Administration will inform you of the location of the meeting in your office. If you are out of the office, there will be a limited number of dial-in lines, the number for which can be obtained from the DoA. You should receive an Outlook calendar notice of this meeting later today.
Julian C. D’Esposito Mayer Brown LLP 71 S. Wacker Chicago, IL 60606
What could this “exciting, transformational event” be? We assume it’s not the recent indictment of partner Joseph Collins, since that’s already public.
Maybe a merger is in the works? It wouldn’t be the first in the firm’s history. The firm’s former name, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, reflected the merger of U.S.-based Mayer, Brown & Platt with U.K.-based Rowe & Maw. Update: One tipster speculates:
I have no idea, but it is of course intriguing. Maybe we’re going public. (That would apply only to the English LLP of course. I think that it may be possible in the future but hadn’t seen any change in the law that would allow it now.)
So maybe it’s a merger. Or possibly the “exciting” change is that they are not going to give bonuses any more.
That would be “exciting” news — to rival firms, looking to raid the ranks of Mayer Brown lawyers. Further Update: We’ve learned that tonight is the holiday party for the New York office. And still no word about bonuses…
Last week, we mentioned in passing the news that the former U.K. Attorney-General, Lord Peter Goldsmith, QC, is joining Debevoise & Plimpton. Lord Goldsmith will head up Debevoise’s European litigation practice.
The Times of London reported the news here, and the WSJ Law Blog posted on the move here. But both write-ups omitted the most notable part of Lord Goldsmith’s resume (as mentioned by a WSJ commenter):
On 17 February 2007, the Mail on Sunday reported that Goldsmith, who is married, had been having an affair with Kim Hollis, Britain’s first Asian QC.
Good stuff. And more dirty details, after the jump.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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