Heller Ehrman to end?
Surprising to me that this was buried in the business section. This is what I get for not keeping up on my legal blogs. Rumor has it, that after the departure of its entire IP group to another firm, that Heller Ehrman is on its way out. Here's the blurb from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Heller Ehrman, a storied San Francisco law firm founded in 1890 that was considered one of the most solid and successful in the nation only a year ago, is now struggling for survival, a source close to the situation said.
The firm, which rode out the 1906 earthquake, arranged financing for the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s, and recently helped overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriages, has been all over the legal journals in recent days, with speculation mounting that Heller Ehrman will soon announce, at the least, major changes in the company's structure. "End of the Road for Heller?" read a headline this week in a U.K. trade publication, The Lawyer.
The firm has 650 lawyers in 14 offices, including in Seattle.
Heller, which declined to comment on reports that it may dissolve, has been suffering continued departures of valued partners from the firm, sources say. The firm's gradual unraveling, closely followed by the San Francisco legal newspaper The Recorder, originated in 2007 when partners began leaving for other opportunities and revenues for the year declined by 3 percent.
Until recently, legal industry watchers assumed Heller Ehrman would weather its setbacks, which were not unusual for major law firms. But over the past six weeks, the firm's troubles deepened. Negotiations to merge the entire firm with Baker & McKenzie of Chicago broke off, and 14 partners in Heller Ehrman's intellectual property practice left as a group for another firm, The Recorder reported.
People close to the situation say Heller is now discussing a split of its various practice groups into separate units that would merge with other law firms.
Brendan Mangan, managing shareholder for Heller Ehrman's 69-person Seattle office, wouldn't confirm speculation that the firm is closing.
"I need to hold off until I can give you a better summation of what's going on later in the week," he said Tuesday.
"It's a fluid situation, and there are a lot of alternatives being explored."
The firm delayed start dates, to January from October, for incoming first-year associates who graduated from Stanford Law School, said Susan Robinson, the school's associate dean for career services. The firm has an 80-person office in Menlo Park, Calif., and a 147-person San Francisco office. It hired one Stanford grad to start this fall, she said.
"There is some sense that (going out of business) is where things are headed, though it could be they're still negotiating or trying to figure out what to do," Robinson said.
But remember kids, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. :P I'm sorry, but when firms this old and prestigious are failing, you have to start worrying about the fundamentals.