Jones Day seeks new jobs for post-merger Pennie staff

Jones Day seeks new jobs for post-merger Pennie staff” />Jones Day is attempting to find new positions for staff from New York intellectual property (IP) practice Pennie & Edmonds, who are facing redundancy following its recent merger.

Pennie, which ceased operations on 31 December after 120 years of practising law, officially merged with Jones Day on 1 January when 100 lawyers from the IP specialist moved to their new home. As a result, it is understood that a number of staff will lose their jobs.

However, according to the New York Lawyer, a memo distributed to staff last week by Pennie’s management said the firm’s partners are committed to helping staff facing redundancy to find new jobs.

Since the merger was announced, a number of lawyers have joined other firms, including Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson and Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

Pennie had originally entered merger talks with Jones Day in April last year, but decided not to go ahead with the link-up. Brief merger discussions with Cooley Godward followed, but these failed, and then late last year Pennie resumed its negotiations with Jones Day.

Call it circumstance. Call it a bolt out of the blue. But when Pennie & Edmonds announced late last year that, after 120 years of practising law, it would cease to exist, most people were astounded. The decision followed the on-off-on talks with Cleveland’s Jones Day.

But underneath Pennie’s wish to merge, all was not well.

Sources say the clincher was the negotiations on the firm’s space at 1155 Avenue of the Americas. The non-recourse lease required all partners to guarantee it individually by putting their names to it.

This, apparently, was the straw that broke the camel’s back, since many partners, according to sources, did not know if they would still be at the firm in 10 or 15 years. It seems a peculiar, short-term view at a firm that had traditionally enjoyed a low partner turnover.

Maybe there was something else afoot. A couple of years ago Pennie had won big for client KUDco, part of Germany’s Schwarz Pharma, on a patent infringement case brought by AstraZeneca.

Since the case was taken on a contingency basis, the fees alone for Pennie were astronomical. But it is understood that internal disagreements sprung up over the distribution of the profits when groups of partners left for other firms. Whether it was the property or the fees, New York has had to say goodbye to one of its oldest law firms.