Howrey chair rallies the troops as Winston circles

The latest twist in the ongoing Howrey saga last week saw Winston & Strawn enter the fray, with the Chicago-based outfit reportedly in talks to acquire some parts of the firm.

Robert Ruyak
Robert Ruyak

A full-blown merger appears unlikely given the potential for client conflict, but Winston is said to be exploring the option of hiring ­partners from Howrey’s Chicago and Houston offices.

Both firms declined to comment, but one Howrey insider claimed that “Winston & Strawn partners are going around various offices handing out offers like they’re handing out life preservers on the Titanic”.

Howrey co-chair of IP William Rooklidge is also being linked with a move to Jones Day alongside several other partners who work out of Irvine, California, although both firms again declined to comment.

Speculation over the future of Howrey has intensified in recent weeks following the departures of key figures such as vice-chair Henry Bunsow and global antitrust co-chair Trevor Soames.

In an internal email sent to every lawyer in the firm, which was leaked to The Lawyer last week, chairman Robert Ruyak insisted that the firm was in good shape.

“Our clients understand what we are doing as most of them have had to do the same thing,” Ruyak wrote. “Downsizing is hard and it is painful. While this is not the reason for all of the departures, we must remember that ­everyone’s personal situation is different and the reasons people choose to leave vary. 

“Please remember that our glass is much more than half full. We have excellent clients, first-rate lawyers and staff and we compete successfully in the three practice areas where we focus. None of that has changed. What has changed is our headcount – nothing else. We are simply a smaller, more efficient firm.”

Ruyak ended his message to the Howrey troops by pointing out that they had all been “in the trenches together” and could boast “incredible successes, many of them very recently”.

“We are there for each other on our cases and otherwise – when someone suffers a personal loss or is ill the Howrey family always comes through,” Ruyak concluded.