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One Year Later, Lawyers in Howrey Diaspora Say They are Happy with New Careers

Posted Mar 14, 2012 4:58 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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When Howrey partners voted to dissolve almost exactly a year ago, many of the business-generating members of the law firm were snapped up fairly quickly by other major partnerships.

But for associates, nonequity partners and counsel, suddenly having to find a new job in the midst of a struggling economy was an uphill battle. Nonetheless, a number say they have done well in establishing new careers, perhaps not at BigLaw but at firms that offer them interesting work and more autonomy in directing their own careers, the American Lawyer reports.

Among those who express satisfaction in their new venues is Deborah Furth, a first-year associate who started work at Howrey's office in San Francisco in the fall of 2010.

It was immediately clear that she had less work to do than as a summer associate in 2009, and by November, murmurings concerning an unusually large number of partners who seemed to be looking for the exit couldn't be ignored.

However, Furth, who had been hired at a below-market salary of $100,000 to work in a new apprenticeship program that focused skill development, had been learning only how to do document review and was not particularly employable. Near the end, she and other associates felt abandoned in a virtually leaderless office, hoping against hope for rescue by a Howrey partner heading to another firm.

Even so, she managed to find a new job by May, only a few months after the firm officially gave all associates their pink slips.

Now that she is with Bowles & Verna, a litigation boutique in Walnut Creek, Calif., "I can't explain to people how happy I am," Furth says. She has second-chaired a trial, in addition to many other career opportunities that would never have her way so soon had she continued as a big-firm associate.

The experience of being at a failing firm has left its mark on Furth and her colleagues, though.

For Arden Levy, a Howrey counsel who had started at the firm's Washington, D.C., office in 2001, not having her own book of business meant that after the firm imploded, she had to take a job that really wasn't what she wanted in the long term.

Last month, she left that position to establish her own insurance recovery firm.

"I don't ever want to be in that situation that I was in last year again," Levy tells the legal publication. "I do not want anyone else controlling my destiny. I would like to control my own destiny."

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Consultant: Howrey Didn’t Have to Fail, Despite Low-Paid Partners; New Jobs for 18 More Lawyers"

ABAJournal.com: "How to Deal with 55 Years of Lawyer Documents? Howrey Trustee Develops a Plan"

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