Posted Mar 20, 2009 09:31 pm CDT
Despite the dismal economy, McCarter & English hasn’t needed to make any attorney layoffs to stay on sound financial footing. In fact, the well-known Northeastern law firm is planning to announce on Monday that it is bringing in a group of intellectual property attorneys.
So it was with considerable surprise that McCarter & English found out this morning, as phones began ringing with calls from concerned spouses and colleagues elsewhere, that the 400-attorney firm had reportedly filed for bankruptcy. This, of course, wasn’t true. But managing partner Eric Wiechmann started scrambling to counter the false rumor, before it could spread further and become viral.
“It was an interesting way to start the day,” he tells the ABA Journal.
The U.S. Business Journal immediately acknowledged the newsletter error that prompted the rumor and corrected it, Wiechmann says. And McCarter & English also alerted public relations firms of the mistake, so they could help counter it. As far as he knows, this mistaken “news” of his law firm’s bankruptcy filing hasn’t been picked up elsewhere. But, given the Wild West nature of the Internet, he is bracing himself for possible problems over the weekend.
The situation is “incredibly ironic,” Wiechmann tells the ABA Journal, because the firm is nearly halfway through its fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, and is doing well. He attributes its financial strength to a diversified practice and an overall management strategy that doesn’t simply focus on earning top dollar for partners.
The false report of the firm’s bankruptcy was sparked by a recent filing in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in which McCarter & English, along with New York-based Weil Gotshal & Manges, is representing Trump Entertainment Resorts.
The newsletter initially wrote: “McCarter & English has seen a 5/28 deadline set for filing proof of claims in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy. For further information contact the debtor’s attorney, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, at 212-310-8000,” recounts the Am Law Daily.
Reporters there immediately questioned the accuracy of the news, the post notes. Having recently visited the McCarter & English office on Park Avenue in New York City, they doubted that the 165-year-old firm could have disappeared overnight.