The BigLaw Dead Pool

by lawshucks on March 10, 2011

In connection with the recent demise of Howrey, we were thinking about all of the other firms that have suffered similar fates.

Unable to find a thorough reference for firms that had fallen the farthest – from the AmLaw 100 to dissolution – we decided to put one together ourselves.

The BigLaw Dead Pool – a consolidated reference for law firms that have been among the country’s largest but no longer exist.

As a matter of professional courtesy (or pure dollars and cents, depending on your level of cynicism), a number of firms that were failing were bailed out by other firms who picked up many or most of the lawyers.

We’ve tried to limit the list to firms that actually failed, rather than those that were simply acquired.  In many cases, significant blocs of lawyers moved together, so it’s hard to distinguish (Graham & James basically split in two, for example, with half going to Squire Sanders and the other half going to Greenberg Traurig).

We haven’t included those firms that were able to find those white knights, although that could certainly provide plenty of stories for another day (for example, did you know that Walter Conston Alexander & Green, which was pulled off the abyss by Alston & Bird ten years ago, was the same firm from which three attorneys decamped to form Simpson Thacher 125 years prior?)

Peruse the links at your leisure – many are fascinating looks back.

  • The Gaston & Snow article, for example, is to a 1992 NY Times article about people turning down partnerships at firms because of potential liability, and includes blasts from the past about Jones Day’s role in the Keating S&L scandal and Kaye Scholer’s in the Lincoln S&L implosion.
  • Bill Shea’s name came off the law firm’s office door five years before it came off the stadium marquee.  (Although he died before either happened)
  • And Pettit & Martin may have been the first law firm to have had publicly confirmed layoffs back in 1991 (11 associates), according to the Am Law article recapping the firm’s demise.

Click here for the BigLaw Dead Pool.  Also, since it’s a permanent page, you can find it on the top nav bar wherever you may be on the site.

  • Joe

    This just proves that Big Law firms really need to change their business models to stay current with the market.

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