Brobeck partners kept in dark on closure vote

A nine-strong cabal of Brobeck Phleger & Harrison partners did not allow its lawyers to vote on the firm's dissolution, The Lawyer can reveal

Partners were only asked to vote last Tuesday (11 February), just three days before the firm's official close of business on 14 February, a date that was set by Brobeck's largest creditor Citibank.

The firm's policy committee, made up of nine of Brobeck's senior partners, made an announcement to its partners and staff on 30 January that it was likely it would have to wind up its operations, but the firm took eight working days before holding a formal partner vote.

The startling revelation emerged as Equity Office Properties (EOP), one of Brobeck's landlords, filed an unlawful detainer claim against its tenant on 11 February.

Under this claim Brobeck must vacate the premises, which in this case refers to One Market, its head office in San Francisco. Brobeck has just five days to respond to the claim.

However, Brobeck's lawyers could possibly be saved from the indignity of eviction if former merger partner Morgan Lewis & Bockius agrees to take on the lease. These talks are currently taking place.

Morgan Lewis has taken on around a third of Brobeck's partners, including Richard Odom, the firm's chairman and a member of the policy committee.

Concerning the timelag in voting, Peter Gilhuly, a finance and real estate partner at Latham & Watkins, who was instructed by Brobeck in June last year, said: “The policy committee realised the situation in that they had no other option but to do this.”

It is still being decided what course of action the firm should take in meeting its ends and paying back its creditors.

The three options are either bankruptcy, liquidation or an “assignment for the benefit of creditors”.

Gilhuly said it is hoped that the recoverable assets will be enough to pay back the $56m (£34.6m) owed to Citibank.