ABA Journal


Law Firms

Partners ahoy! DLA Piper charters cruise ship for meeting

May 6, 2013, 10:40 am CDT


Churn that bill, er, propeller, baby!

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 06, 12:01 pm CDT

This will make it so easy to take care of the ones who are going overboard.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 06, 12:18 pm CDT

In other business models, this would not happen and the savings would be passed to the consumer.

In law firms, having the highest billable rates (e.g., "churn that bill, baby") is seen as synonymous with being the best.

I think we see why the legal market is not doing so well right now.

By Jimmy on 2013 05 06, 2:06 pm CDT

In light of so many recent incidents involving Cruise Ships, this headline is just too inviting to ignore.
A contest for best story/T.V. show is certainly in order.
Gilligan's Island
Love Boat
Poseidon Adventure
Shark Week
Titanic III
Fantastic Voyage

...Add to the list please

By J.E. Fink on 2013 05 06, 4:33 pm CDT

Come on, you can do better.
Try "Voyage the the Bottom of the Sea."

By Mike Bowers on 2013 05 06, 8:34 pm CDT


By BMF on 2013 05 07, 3:56 am CDT

I can imagine the conga line around the deck, as the partners all groove to a hearty chorus of "Backside Rules the Navy."

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 07, 5:53 am CDT

As a former associate of DLA, I can say this is not unexpected and still makes me want to throw up.

By Rob on 2013 05 08, 10:41 pm CDT

Nothing wrong with being among the 1% of the legal profession.

By tim17 on 2013 05 09, 2:40 am CDT

@9 - Depends on what 1% it is.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 09, 2:01 pm CDT

Maybe The partners' wives made them do this because the cruise line cannot afford to bring floozies along, and there's less of a chance of intrafirm relations?

By Laura on 2013 05 10, 10:24 am CDT

Like the old joke... What do you call 5 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean... A Good Start.

By Brion on 2013 05 10, 10:29 am CDT

Rumor has it that Skadden just leased a submarine.

By Tom on 2013 05 10, 11:23 am CDT

Everyone like to pile on with nasty takes. But this is not the first time DLA has done this. They have global partner meetings every three years or so. The cruise is actually in part a result of cost concerns. It is cheaper than hotels and it is far harder to find a hotel that can accommodate such a large number of people. Also Barcelona is attractive because of its location and availability of favorably priced flights -- there are hundreds of people flying in from all over the DLA world. You try to run an event of this size for less. That is why they do it only every three years or so.

By Lamont on 2013 05 10, 12:10 pm CDT

I wonder where one might find a few hundred hungry Somali pirates, willing to sail a bit far afield for one, short excursion.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 10, 12:17 pm CDT

@15: DLA's clients will not be happy to see "pirate ransom" fees added to thier itemized bills.

By Provided, however on 2013 05 10, 1:16 pm CDT

Primo: @#4-- Gilligan's Island and McHale's Navy.
Secundo: @#14--Irrespective of any "cost savings" this action reeks of a 'screw you' attitude to clients, particularly in light of the 'churn that bill' litigation.
Tertio: @#15--McLeod, didn't you know that the Somali pirates are all Piper associates striving hard to churn those bills?

By Faulhaber on 2013 05 10, 1:20 pm CDT

Even though it probably is less expensive than a private convention in luxurious digs, this would be a marketing "fail."

However, there are some clients who revel in their law firm's prestige and who would like this. But not many, and not as many as there were before the crash.

if they do not invite the partner's spouses, this is a morale "fail."

And with every firm retreat, there will be issues that gripe people, but they will be miserably captive.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 05 10, 1:35 pm CDT

It may cost $3.1 million, but I think we can all safely assume that an amount at least double that will somehow be billed by these partners while on board.

By Felix on 2013 05 10, 2:27 pm CDT

With all their money, DLA can't afford PR advice? Or sound business advice? Law firms aren't the only ones cutting costs these days, so are their clients. The auditors and shareholders of DLA's corporate clients will have a field day with this - both will logically argue that if DLA truly wanted to reduce global meeting costs, they could have tried a little thing called SKYPE.

By NYS courts ex-wife on 2013 05 10, 2:42 pm CDT

DLA is so awesome. They're not like real life lawyers they are more like Law & Order, Alley McBeal, Franklin & Bash TV lawyers, except in real life. They can't step into a court room without making the jury gasp and the judge break his gavel attempting to restore order.

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 05 10, 3:30 pm CDT

@ 21
Best. Post. Ever!

By hadley V. baxendale on 2013 05 10, 4:04 pm CDT

Not including liquor? Honestly, if the job had benefits and was 35 hours a week or less, and if I could pay my mortgage and child support, that is if I could pay may bills, I'd love to be the bartender. Seriously. That would be fun. Being an associate, or a partner in a big firm. Not fun.

“Nothing bad ever happens to a writer. It's all just material.” Garrison Keillor

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 05 10, 4:39 pm CDT

These people never heard of a conference call?

By DCinsider on 2013 05 10, 4:56 pm CDT

McLeod @ 15, no need to summon Somali pirates. The cruise ship is the pirate boat. What better place than on a pirate boat to talk about one's clients. On their boat, "Churn that bill, baby" translates: Aargh, surrender your booty.

By Realist on 2013 05 10, 5:34 pm CDT

No. 16, I don't think it ever could be added to the billings. Somali pirates understand what people will and won't pay for, and we have to assume the form of the demand here would be, "Pay us $50,000,000 or we'll release this ship."

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 10, 11:08 pm CDT

Based on this excessive spending combined with recent news of over billing, is DLA the next dewey lebeouf?

By matt on 2013 05 11, 2:11 am CDT

Actually, a cruise ship sounds logical. Although I am now in-house, I started at a mid-sized firm, and I remember all the challenges the partners had at partnership meetings keeping the partners focused, and not running off "to take care of one little thing" away from the partner meeting. A cruise ensures 1) the partners will show up on time, 2) they won't run away mid-meeting, 3) they'll stay until the meeting concludes, and 4) off-ship communication is probably sufficiently difficult that they won't be distracted by trivial off-site matters. Plus, I agree with the other comments that the cost is probably no more than what would be incurred at any other type of facility that is large enough to host a group that big.

By d. arthur on 2013 05 12, 8:54 pm CDT

@27 - Nah, they're unsinkable.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 13, 12:30 pm CDT

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