We may be a millenium from the day that BigLaw is healthy enough to enable its attorneys to train sufficiently for a spot in the real Tour de France. But we certainly took a spin in the right direction when three members of Hogan & Hartson, namely Warren Gorrell, 55 (Hogan’s chairman), Stephen Immelt, 57 (partner in Hogan’s Baltimore office) and Dennis Tracey, 53 (managing partner of Hogan’s U.S. offices) hammered unofficially but with ample BigLaw fanfare through one particularly beautiful stage of the celebrated bike race, culminating atop a pristine peak amidst the Alps.
After almost a decade of continuous ascent in the categories of revenue, profits, salaries and bonuses since the last deep doldrums we experienced following the collapse of the dot-com bubble, BigLaw’s current plunge from the stratosphere feels to most of our players to be more perilous than ever. The prevailing sense of fear was exemplified this week by the venerable Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in announcing that as part of its keep-the-boat-afloat strategy, it is offering its incoming associate class a $75,000 payout to any rookie who elects not to jump on board, eclipsing the significance of Skadden’s historic offer earlier this year to pay associates at a rate of 33 percent of base to take a premature sabbatical.
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 we at Hanover Legal enter this new year and look back on BigLaw in 2008, we are reminded of the bibical tale of Lot’s wife glancing towards Sodom and turning to salt. So in the hope of avoiding a similar fate, we’ll keep our retrospective analysis brief.
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.