While our economy crumbles, the American public observes like lemmings as the Wall Street criminals who executed the greatest financial fraud in history add insult to our collective injury by continuing to openly steal billions. Only now, instead of conning the world into believing that their excrement is some sort of sophisticated securities derivative too complex for non-Streeters to comprehend, they are referring to their cash grab as “bonuses.” Relatively insignificant sociopaths like Bernie Madoff can only aspire to sit at the desks of these miscreants whose greed may still prove monumental enough to bring us all to ruin. We at Hanover Legal are certainly not the first to ask whether and when members of our legal community should have recognized and tried to put a stop to the epic Wall Street slight of hand. However, we viewed our function as limited to servicing the financiers to whatever extent we were paid to do so, and as long as Moody’s and S&P were signing off on these transactions with their highest ratings, who were we to raise an eyebrow?
As Marc Dreier, the sole equity partner of Dreier LLP, faces federal charges of transferring $113 million in bogus securities to two hedge funds, an impersonation charge filed against him in Toronto as well as a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to recover the $113 million, the firm he created, namely Dreier LLP, sits in receivership pursuant to the order of United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum and faces an additional civil suit filed in the Southern District by Wachovia Bank alleging that the firm and Dreier himself defaulted on a $9 million revolving credit note made in connection with a $14.5 million credit agreement and a term note in the amount of $5.5 million.
At Big NY Law, as in our society at large, we are indeed expressing great confidence in our 45 to 50 year old males. On about the same day that 47 year old Barack Obama steps into the Oval Office as the 44th President of the United States and 47 year old Tim Geithner assumes the helm of the Treasury, 48 year old Brad Karp, Litigation Partner at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, will assume the duties of Chairman of the Firm. As such, while relinquishing none of his responsibilties as a practicing litigation partner, he will take control of a business which, according to the AmLaw Global 100 survey of the World’s Highest-Grossing Law Firms of 2008 survey, employs a total of 663 lawyers in six offices across the planet (about 500 in New York and the rest in Washington, D.C., London, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong) and earns gross revenue of $651 million (Global rank 45).
It’s a given that a law firm partner with sufficient portable business can always find another firm to host his or her practice. But what is “sufficient” for whom? And what is the present value of your practice today vis-a-vis before the storm? Are there any players who are willing, ready and able to pay a significant premium for the certain revenue you may bring to them in what promises to be a trying 2009 for purposes of the Am Law revenue charts? Who are these firms and how much may they be willing to pay you for such certainty in precarious times?