White & Case exodus continues as global IT head quits

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  • From the outside looking in, it has to be said "what is going on here" - so many partners from so many different practices across the globe in a healthy firm ?

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  • See Hildebrandt's 2008 article "Anatomy of Law Firm Failures". They updated their own 2003 article on the same topic for this. Bottom line: large law firms fail primarily because of internal issues: leadership and culture. Reality is that once you have a run on a large law firm the key actors with choices (clients, key partners and recruiting pool) go elsewhere fast and it is almost impossible to stop the process once it starts. Not sure about the numbers at this particular firm, but if 16 or so partners in so many practice areas and offices leave in a few weeks the run is probably on.

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  • here are the ingredients: (i) Duane Wall retired (ii) HV was elected MP and surrounded himself with in his little four person excomm with either a second rater or people that have never been off the island of Manhattan (iii) the McKinsey report that had little understanding about law firms (iv) little interest in finding out what was really going on in the regional offices besides what the cronies were self-servingly reporting (v) lack or firm-mindedness (vi) alienation of certain key players (vii) lack of recognition for those who worked hard (viii) certain partners taking credit for the work of others to pad their own statistics (viii) key contributors being alientaed (ix) certain regional offices not meeting the quality standards that one would expect of an international firms. Anything else, or is that enough of an explanation.

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  • From what I hear, there are more departures to come, including "stealth" departures in the form of full-time partners changing their status to part-time (and not necessarily for family reasons). This allows the firm to reduce costs without further reducing headcount.

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  • I would not read into it too much. This stuff happens and will likely continue across many different firms.

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  • I also doubt that the run for the door will occur, but the hit that W&C is taking by the brain drain and in the market will make it harder for them to retain and recruit talent (as to recruitment, they will get either second raters for whom there will be little real respect or they will have to pay exorbitantly). Further, other firms now see W&C as a happy hunting ground for easy pickings.

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  • The mysterious part is - his bio is still displayed on the Firm's website, and they state he is still with the firm...

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  • I also agree that not worth reading too much into this. I have seen this happen before, and only rarely does it lead to an "exodus." The title of the article is a bit extreme. How many partners have left - 14 total as part of this "exodus"? Out of how many lawyers in the firm? 2000 or so? How many partners? How much of an actual dent in revenues have these jumps caused? Likely not much. The right questions need to be asked before jumping. Sure, drama entices folks to read articles, and people generally like drama, but this is likely not such a big thing.

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  • The real news here is that Betensky (an excellent lawyer and important partner at W&C) is leaving for none other than.....Latham & Watkins.

    So the Great Raid continues.

    Is White & Case going to be Coudert Brothers all over again??

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  • He left to go to Latham & Watkins

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