Howrey’s executive committee has confirmed that the partnership has voted to dissolve the firm, bringing an end to its 55-year history.
The partnership will be officially dissolved on 15 March. In a statement, chairman and CEO Bob Ruyak said: “The firm had experienced disappointing financial performance over the past two years and subsequently several partners had resigned. This resulted in the conclusion that an orderly wind-down of the firm’s activities over time was the only practical alternative.”
A group of partners, associates and staff, the majority of whom are based in Houston, will join Chicago headquartered Winston & Strawn. The firm said that “many others were unable to do so because of significant client conflicts”.
Ruyak added: “This is a very difficult time for our firm, for our attorneys and for our staff. Many of us have spent our entire legal careers at Howrey and remain proud of what we built. We find some solace in the fact that our people have been so well received by their new firms. They are first class professionals and deserve the respect accorded to leaders in their fields.”
A committee of partners has been formed to oversee Howrey’s wind-down. The firm also confirmed that a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letter has been sent to some employees, in accordance with US laws requiring employers to give advance notice of significant layoffs.
In the last year the firm has been devastated by an exodus of high-profile partners. In October a 12-partner team in Europe left to form IP boutique Hoyng Monégier (11 October 2010), while other departures included London head Mark Hodgson (7 January 2011) and Brussels managing partner Trevor Soames (20 January 2011).
One of the biggest blows came in January with the departure of rainmaker and vice-chairman Henry Bunsow (19 January 2011). In an interview with The Lawyer that month, Ruyak claimed the departures in Europe were a result of client conflicts (10 January 2011).