Thursday, March 10, 2011

Any legitimate journalists out there want to cover the real story?

By now, there are quite a few stories in the "real" press that have announced Howrey's death.  Most of them cite ridiculous reasons for the demise of Howrey, such as quotes from Ruyak about variability in firm profits, the lack of patience of Howrey partners for contingency work to pan out, the economic downturn, and my personal favorite, the rise of third party discovery companies.  One would simply think that things took a turn for the worse over the last two years, and KA-BOOM! 

But a real journalist would dig in a little bit by speaking with Howrey partners who left over the years to ask them why they left Howrey.  Everything would tend to point toward one person:  Bob Ruyak, and not any of the horse shit cited by the "real" press in its recent coverage of Howrey.  Other than Above the Law, which has done an admirable job of keeping up.

I would like to send my kudos to a commenter to a story this morning on the WSJ's law blog.  The comment captures the exact reasons why Howrey collapsed:

Nothing Ruyak says is true. Take his interviews with a pinch of salt. The reasons he gives in interview or in press release are nonsense. He should have said that Howrey failed “because of my own incompetent management, my inability and pig headed unwillingness to address the economic effects of the recession in time, my deluded belief that the Howrey business model immunised the firm from economic downtrun, the uncontrolled dumping of unproductive partner and associate capacity in contingency work, the control of all information and decision making that I exercised until it was too late. And of course the abject failure of my partners to replace me when it became clear that I couldn’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy”

Come on "real" journalists.  There's a real story out there.  Grow a pair and report about it.

37 comments:

  1. "the abject failure of my partners to replace [Ruyak]" Now there is a truth. How could so many "smart" partners sit back on their laurels and let this happen. All of the partners are to blame. As far as I have seen only a handful have expressed their regrets over the mistakes that have been made and how this has affected those that have had their backs for years.

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  2. @12:06, part of the problem is that only a small handful of partners had enough independent business to give them the power to challenge Ruyak and his minions on the Exec Committee. Ruyak was willing to overcompensate those few partners with huge sums of money and practice group titles, in order to keep them satisfied. But most partners, even those with real business of moderate amounts, did not have enough power to force management changes, so their only option was to leave. This is what was happening throughout 2009-10. As those mid-level partners fled, the firm was even more dependent on a concentrated group of overcompensated rainmakers. And when a couple of those rainmakers left (Soames, Bendinger, Bunsow), the firm quickly tilted.

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  3. 12:32 again with a part of the story I missed. And note that the partners fleeing in 2009-10 were not the cause of the firm's financial problems, but rather a symptom. The seeds of ruin were planted far earlier. They included multiplying offices into the teeth of a recession, poor judgment on lateral hires, massive overcompensation of many management partners, refusal to reduce comp of underperforming partners, wasteful spending on marketing boondoggles, etc. All this was occurring at least back into the 2003-05 period, and just accelerated with each passing year.

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  4. Following Stalin's death, Khrushchev took the floor at the meeting of the Party Congress and denounced the crimes committed by Stalin and his associates.

    In the middle of Khrushchev's speech, someone standing in the back said in small, shy voice: "And you, Comrade Khrushchev, why didn't you speak up back then?"

    Khrushchev perked up, and said: "Whoever that was, raise your hand and step forward."

    No one did.

    Khrushchev added " . . . And that was why I did not speak up, comrades."

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  5. @4:08: Great analogy. But anyone wanting a story needs to talk to those who left during many of those years, the people who did in various ways speak up, got ignord or gored, and then just left: The press should talk to Briggs, Eggleston, Lynch, Nolan, Rosenblatt, Zwisler and and other major partners who left without any press fanfare. Can't remember the others but there were some. Others can supply.

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  6. I agree with most of the comments above but some of the partners that you're listing as ones who should be talked to or who were rainmakers may not have been what you thought or why their reasons for leaving have everything do do with what ended up happening at Howrey. It's just some opinions about what they would have done different. I'd like to see Peter Moll's thoughts, Roger Klein's thoughts, Roxann Henry's thoughts in print.

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  7. I'd definitely be interested in Roger Klein's thoughts. Roger, if you're out there, I'll pick up the tab for a good steak and several drinks if you're willing to talk.

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  8. @12:32: Your comment is apt, but don't buy Bunsow's spin that he was a $20 million rainmaker. About all he brought into Howrey of late were accrued expenses related to contingency matters that had no chance of paying off.

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  9. The people who left in 2011 were just among the enablers. What they have to say might be of modest or prurient interest, but they were truly part, or a symtom, of the problem.

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  10. Unusualy interesting post at Aw Shucks e the BigLaw Dead Pool.

    http://lawshucks.com/biglaw-dead-pool/

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  11. More from the horse's ass: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/03/10/what-else-happened-to-howrey-heres-more-from-ceo-ruyak/

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  12. Okay - have read both articles from 7:40 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. It's exactly what I believe happened with the firm. Unless you were there and saw it all, you don't know what is true and what isn't. I know that Bob Ruyak cared deeply about this firm and it's people. It's awful what has happened and a lot of good people will be without jobs soon. A lot of people are to blame for what happened - some of those in management, some who were in management and left, some of the partners. It's nice to stand here now and look back and say "this shouldn't have been done" "that shouldn't have been done". It was done. No one wanted to have to deal with the consequences of what was done which has brought us to where we are now.

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  13. The very day my four-month severance package ends!!!

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  14. @8:35 pm You say, "I know that Bob Ruyak cared deeply about this firm and it's people." What horseshit. He didn't care enough about the people at the firm not to lie to their faces repeatedly. Sure, he liked what the firm could do for his ego and his pocketbook. And, sure, he liked playing the role of benefactor toward those he liked (alternating with the role of hachetman for those whom he did not). But the man is was simply a liar to his partners and others at the firm. You don't do that to people "care deeply about." Yes, it's not 100% his fault that Howrey failed. But it's more his than anyone else's fault.

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  15. Yes, third-party e-discovery vendors killed Howrey in two years flat. Astounding feat. Next they'll cause hyperinflation and mass Ebola outbreaks.

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  16. I did speak up. I was not a DC insider. I was expendable to them.

    I saw the problems with the firm in 2008. I did speak up to upper management with my ideas and solutions to problems in my area in a very constructive and professional manner... and at their invitation I was set up to have meetings with them... but someone in DC higher up than me was threatened by my ideas and pulled a few strings and the meetings were abruptly cancelled and the whole tone changed... I was then dissed, attempts were made to set me up to fail on my cases, my emails and phone calls were being monitored by IT and reported back to upper management (had one friendly in IT that let me know about it)... I was then told upper management was 'very angry' with me, was labeled as 'arrogant', no less than two higher ups flew to our office on two separate occasions to tell me to shut up because even though I was right, I was making them look bad. I said, then take my ideas and run with them as your own, just fix it - don't we all want the firm to be more successful? I was let go a few weeks later without a severance package. Nothing. They did their best to try to humiliate me on my way out, and it was very cold and cruel how they handled my departure - it was the beginning of their blueprint for blaming those that left, kind of like how abusers blame their victims. Publically and internally, my departure was announced as a 'restructuring'. No one spoke up for me when I was let go in protest, which was deeply disappointing to discover how my loyalty to those I toiled away for to the point it made me ill was repaid, but most were too scared that what happened to me would happen to them if they said anything. I liken it to the Holocaust, where they kept weeding out those who spoke up, and no one did anything, until there was no one left to speak for them either.

    I was correct about the problems with the direction the firm was going, it just took this long for my words back then to become true and I've been watching the long, slow decline. As for my ideas I had for Howrey, I have been successfully and happily implementing them at my current firm, which specifically sought me out and hired me on my reputation to turn things around for them, and I have.

    Stupid, stupid Howrey management. They were the arrogant ones and I have the last laugh.

    Success is the best revenge.

    It makes me sad, I really could have changed things for the better there, but the culture was so set against anyone outshining anyone in DC. It broke my heart to see what I had built there dismantled after I left, but the fact they tore it down because they didn't understand it, is a symptom of the whole collapse.

    I don't weep for Howrey. I weep for what could have been.

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  17. Uh, there are a lot of things this is, but it is not likenable to the Holocaust.

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  18. Why did so many significant productive partners leave from November 2010 onwards? The vast majority of those who left earlier in that year were encouraged to do so or exited due to underperformance., and as part of a too long delayed restructuring of the firm. The reason lies in what happened in November 2010, likely at a well publicized management meeting where things happened resulting in a number of partners feeling that there simply was no choice, no credible plans, a focus on irrelevancies, a deceptive chairman and a failure of others to support efforts to remove him and bring in fresh blood. Apparently there was much argument at that meeting and the partners were warned, not by Ruyak of course, that iif change did not occur then the firm would not survive 2011. There is much we could learn from those who fought with Ruyak during 2010 and indeed before but who did so behind closed doors but were not supported by others and hence were unable to make the changes to the firm that were obviously necessary.

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  19. It's getting late and maybe my memory is faulty, but 12.38 speaks the truth. A bunch of senior partners most of whom later left the firm in disgust tried throughout 2010 to save the firm from Ruyak and yes men. That included Bunsow, Boland, Bendinger, Soames, Rooklidge etc etc. It was Bendinger I very clearly remember who said at that November meeting "shame on us" if we cannot make this firm with such good and excellent lawyers profitable and successful. Another (Soames) dramatically stopped the meeting and warned everyone that unless they all focussed on what was important and executed, he would not be there at the next meeting, if the ever was one. Ruyak was forced by some partners, including those who left in December and January, to make clarifications to the partnership meeting after having provided incorrect financial and other information. Many others spoke for change and decisive action, which was not taken. And no notes of such discussion were ever circulated to the partnership or the firm in order to cover up the nature of the debate.

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  20. Ruyak never gave a shit about the firm as such or anybody in it. BUT, he did care about the frim solely as a vehicle to get that weird pictyure in the press each day/week/month. The firm was a vehicle for bizarre self promotion. he needed to idolizize himself so as to be able to keep recruiting laterals so as to fuel the illusion of growth and success and at the same time to mask colosal internal failure of actual leadreship. Loyalty to Bob eventually became the only metric for internal success. By late 2009 it was way toolate to pull out of the tailspin. He suffers from extrem Narcissism and is still even today in love with his own image and voice. A legal Elmer Gantry. Pathetic. @8:35: you have swallowed the RR line hook line and sinker, as have a few others.

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  21. Thanks Mr Howrey for the kudos. I am the said commentator. Truth will out. 12.28 speaks true.

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  22. And 1241 as well, Posted by Mr Kudos

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  23. Wow. I've never seen so many spineless anonymous posts. My bet is that the vast majority of them are from the creator of this blog.

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  24. By the way - I love that the comment you copied and pasted was written by someone who is obviously borderline illiterate. Yeah, this is the person I would call a reliable source of information.

    Writer of this blog - go back to delivering coffee.

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  25. @11:17 U R a moron

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  26. @11:19 U 2 are an idiot

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  27. 11:17 -- This is not the weekend for you to go to Las Vegas or play the lottery.

    11:19 -- You have that imperious Howrey upper management attitude that many found offensive. If you don't like the blog, DON'T READ IT.

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  28. And also at 11:17 -- Don't you think it's ironic that you delivered your complaint about spineless anonymous posts with...a spineless anonymous post?

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  29. Bad decisions and the attempt to grow too fast is what killed this firm! Let's not just blame Ruyak because there was an Executive Board in place to back the shenanigans.

    Just wait, now the Head for Hours rumors are coming back to life. Dimes will be dropped, as the shuffle to find new jobs starts.

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  30. @Howrey - it's comments like your 1:15 post that make me wish we were on facebook, so that I could click "like."

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  31. I am an ex-Howrey staff member who left a few years ago. I had been working with a mid-level associate who decided to leave Howrey (some of his hard-earned business/clients followed). The way "Ru-yuck" and his lackeys treated that particular attorney was disgusting. But worse was their treatment of the remaining individuals that had worked closely with the attorney who'd resigned. We were guilty by association. It was Ru-yuck's not-so-subtle way of telling us that we were useless to Howrey if we felt any goodwill whatsoever for the departing attorney. That message was delivered because we had the audacity to question their tactics for “removing” the attorney physically in less than 2 hours after he tendered his resignation. Ru-yuck’s treatment of us, under the incorrect assumption that we were planning to follow the departing associate, was what ultimately led to my resignation; and other, less expendable, people did likewise. Ru-yuck's M.O. has always been to bully and threaten those who oppose him in any way and then try to convince the outside world that he was the “bigger person.” His mentality is to shoot first - so no questions can be asked later.

    There are exceptionally talented and well-respected people that have been caught up in this mess because, no matter what, they cared about Howrey and the people there. But I can assure you, Ru-yuck was NOT one of those people. He was a dictator who created his own little empire inside the firm. Although I am not shocked, I am sickened at the deplorable way he has treated everyone - including his so-called “partners.” It kills me to think of all the wonderful people who have been hurt by this man’s actions and his “solid business plan.” I wish them all the best! I’m praying that each of them will now be open to the best opportunities they’ve ever had.

    To Ruyak: Karma’s a bitch - Whatever you give comes back to you three-fold. Hold onto your hat, I believe you’re in for a bumpy ride!

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  32. What's your e-mail address, howrey doody? I'm a "real journalist," as you say, and published a story today on Howrey's demise. Would be happy to send it to you ...

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  33. Journalist, please post a link to your story, and your email address. You may get many people who have comments for your next piece.

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  34. unfortunately, I work at a legal newspaper in California that is highly password protected, so there's no link that's viewable to a general audience. but if you e-mail me at sara_randazzo@dailyjournal.com, I can send it to you

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  35. ENOUGH - guess what???? Some of those partners that you are quote above as having the best interest of the firm wanted quite a bit of a hike in their pay! THAT is the reason that they left, not because they were trying to save the firm it was GREED. I dare them, any of them, to say "you know what my $2+M is enough - maybe we can lower my pay since I haven't brought the revenue in this past few years" instead of the "I deserve a raise and if I don't get it here, I'll get it somewhere else." FLAME AWAY but if you don't know what the real story is keep your f'ing opinions to yourself.

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  36. Hey - after reading all of this, I would like to especially thank Ralph Allen and Pat Hennessy for getting the firm to the place we are now. Thanks guys!!! Hope that you really appreciate the person who took the bullet for you!!!!

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  37. To the "real journalist" above. I am reluctant to send an email to anyone for fear of it being traceable. The last Howrey blogger received some fairly hideous emails, which compelled him or her to take down the blog.

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