Orrick Hires Core UK Partners of Heller; Other Firms Rejected ‘Messy’ Deal
Posted Nov 3, 2008 9:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Several United Kingdom partners of the dissolving law firm Heller Erhman have found a new home at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, despite potential complications that led other law firms to reject the idea.
The core of Heller’s UK corporate legal team begins work today at Orrick, The Lawyer reports. Leading the team are partners Richard Eaton, Chris Grew and Struan Penwarden.
Several other firms considered but decided not to hire Heller’s British lawyers, the publication says, including Bird & Bird, Mayer Brown, Cooley Godward Kronish and Wilson Sonsini.
A Heller Ehrman legal team “comes with a lot of baggage,” the publication reports. The issues include: Is the hiring firm responsible for the partners’ insurance liabilities? Is the new firm willing to defer partnership contributions from the new lawyers? Will the partners leaping to the new firm be too preoccupied with the Heller Ehrman dissolution to work effectively?
The story notes a report that the United Kingdom partners, who have been part of Heller only since February 2007, will sue the dissolving law firm. Said one source, “When you take on these people, … you want someone focused on building up the business. You don’t want someone looking over their shoulders waiting for a claim. And you don’t want bankrupt partners.”
A partner at Bird & Bird explained to The Lawyer why the firm rejected hiring the Heller lawyers. “It was too expensive. There was a whole raft of complications that made it unattractive. The whole thing was just too messy.”