Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

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Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:39 pm

I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


thanks. I was thinking about a lateral move to BB's Sf office. You've convinced me to stay put.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:23 pm

This is scary stuff. Do you know if any other Houston firms follow this?

[anon because planning on going to Houston firm]

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is scary stuff. Do you know if any other Houston firms follow this?

[anon because planning on going to Houston firm]

I've heard V&E also has a strong preference for homegrown associates over laterals, but I don't know if they follow this to the extent of Baker Botts.

Times still aren't great in Houston with the current oil environment. Stealth layoffs have been going on over the past year across most firms.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:02 am

anyone know anything about how latham houston is surviving?

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rpupkin
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby rpupkin » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad.

thanks. I was thinking about a lateral move to BB's Sf office. You've convinced me to stay put.

Every big law firm does the bolded.

I don't know anything about what's going on at Baker Botts—and I believe the OP's story—but I'd caution against making lateral decisions based on threads like this one. Maybe Baker Botts is recruiting for its SF office because they've decided to focus on IP in light of their oil & gas problems in Texas.

If every laid-off lateral in the country outed their firm on TLS, you would never lateral anywhere. Don't get me wrong: it's good to consider all the information you come across. And it's good to be cautious. But don't make career decisions based solely on anon threads on TLS.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby LondonCallingV10 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:24 am

I would question whether every law firm lays off laterals first. In my experience (having sadly seen layoffs in more than one firm) the smarter, better-managed firms decide on competency and future usefulness i.e. Smart laterals will survive over mediocre homegrown talent. But of course not all law firms are well managed.....

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Npret » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:05 am

LondonCallingV10 wrote:I would question whether every law firm lays off laterals first. In my experience (having sadly seen layoffs in more than one firm) the smarter, better-managed firms decide on competency and future usefulness i.e. Smart laterals will survive over mediocre homegrown talent. But of course not all law firms are well managed.....


Agreed. I know not all firms layoff laterals first and most partners have a say over who stays and who goes. I'm not even sure this story is true about Bakerr Botts. I find it hard to believe the partners didn't know about what was happening.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:14 am

OP thanks for this post. This is awful but it's not just limited to Baker Botts. I have seen half a dozen vault 50 firms in NYC do this to junior/mid-level associates. The game is that these laid off lateral associates never say anything publicly about what happened and the cycle repeats itself.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.

lawlorbust
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby lawlorbust » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.


(Baker Botts chief operating officer)

Right2BearArms
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Right2BearArms » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:11 pm

lawlorbust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.


(Baker Botts chief operating officer)


God bless the people on this site trying to score sarcastic points.

BB did just hire 6 or 7 partners away from NRF. No idea whether all of them are rainmakers, but I understand that at least a couple have good sized books.

BB isn't alone in cutting laterals in down times and the oil downturn was likely a great opportunity for firms to cut anyone they were on the fence about a year ago.

To whomever said the oil bust is still hurting the Houston legal market, I am not sure where you got your info, my group is about as busy as it has ever been this time of year, and there are at least 3 IPOs working their way though our Cap M group. Perhaps the smaller firms are still hurting for work, but everyone I know at the top end firms in town (V&E, Kirkland, Latham, BB) has plenty to do and the lateral market is hot right now.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.


Not sure if this has already officially happened, but I heard from a friend that several BB partners were jumping ship to another firm in Houston. We'll see how it turns out, but it seems like NRF poach is to replace those departing partners / net out the loss.

AFAIK, based on my experience and friends working at other some Houston firms, seems like the bigger shops like LW, KE and are all keeping fairly busy and BB is struggling a little bit.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.


Not sure if this has already officially happened, but I heard from a friend that several BB partners were jumping ship to another firm in Houston. We'll see how it turns out, but it seems like NRF poach is to replace those departing partners / net out the loss.

AFAIK, based on my experience and friends working at other some Houston firms, seems like the bigger shops like LW, KE and are all keeping fairly busy and BB is struggling a little bit.


Hillary Holmes (one of top rainmakers in group), Gerry Spedale (Centerpoint is his client), Tull Florey (head of Houston corporate), Shalla Pritchard (finance), Doug Rayburn (head of Dallas office) and James Chenoweth (MLP tax guy) are all leaving to open Gibson Dunn's Houston office. Baker Botts is making the partners stay during their three-month notice period. They're probably doing that so that the firm can transition their clients to other partners and keep the clients from jumping to Gibson (just speculating). Also, rumor has it that these partners have been banished to out-of-way offices so that they can't interact much with associates. But despite the office moves, the partners have set up shop in the glass window conference rooms next to the associates' offices so that everyone can see that they're still around. :) Also, the reason associates at BB are now busy in the corporate group is that they now have something like 27+ partners to 18-20 associates. I would hope that the associates are busy. The leverage is a lot different at firms like K&E, Latham and V&E.

BTW - profits per partner came in at 2.5 million this year, which is huge. Last year was $1.8 million. However, it would have been a drop from last year without their Liberty Media (Vivendi) contingency fee award in 2016 (about $200 million in award fees out of their $700 million in total revenue for the year came from this).

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:53 pm

When throw in Dechert. You're basically betting on the policy committees accurately forecasting their needs. It's not a firm being slow so much as it is a firm misforecasting their needs. You're basically betting on people with little business training to make good business choices. At the end of the day, guessing wrong doesn't affect the partners as much as the associates. Their losses are diluted, the associates aren't. When push comes to shove, if the goal is finding the next generation's rainmakers, then it could make sense to overhire and cut a few off the bat. When it's firm specific it's worse, because firms are protective of that and will only give your 3 months if you sign something that won't let you say why you were laid off. If you breach it, they're obviously going to deny any inquiry, and enough people follow it that Jews never gets out. A bad policy committee is worse than a bad economy, because with the latter people the firm was struggling. It sucks because you go to a firm partly based the people, but a few old men you never meet control your future.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Npret
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Npret » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:59 pm

I wish 0Ls would understand how uncertain a biglaw career can be. They just don't seem to understand or they assume it will never happen to them.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have been debating about getting this out to the public, but I feel like I need to leave a warning to anyone that's considering making a lateral move to Baker Botts. Several years ago, I left a V10 firm in New York to join Baker Botts' Houston office. Unfortunately, the Houston office has been going through some major changes during the oil bust. They lost eight associates in 2016 in my practice group, and I know that at least 6 of those were layoffs. ALL three of the lateral associates in my practice group were laid off. The partners explained to the laterals that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their performance or billables, but that they were chosen by firm management (not the firm partnership, but the Chief Operating Officer made the decision for crying out loud!) to be laid off because management thought that the best approach for layoffs would be a "last in, first out" approach. Furthermore, the partners in my practice group did not even know that their own associates were going to be laid off until the day of the layoffs. The firm is very traditional and laterals are generally treated as second-class associates. I have a close friend who was a lateral associate at Baker Botts and was also laid off in 2008. She said that this is just the firm's approach when they conduct layoffs. Baker Botts hires laterals when the market is good and fires them when it is bad. If you're looking to make a move to Houston, or a move within the Houston market, please be careful when considering a lateral move to Baker Botts.


Didn't a bunch of rainmaking corporate partners just leave NRF to join BB? Things might improve with the influx of work.


I am rather acquainted with the NRF defection. Of the nine partners, only one (maybe two) of them can genuinely be called rainmakers. The remaining seven are either in semi-retirement, up-and-coming but without books of business, or service partners by nature (i.e. tax).

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby RaceJudicata » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:When throw in Dechert. You're basically betting on the policy committees accurately forecasting their needs. It's not a firm being slow so much as it is a firm misforecasting their needs. You're basically betting on people with little business training to make good business choices. At the end of the day, guessing wrong doesn't affect the partners as much as the associates. Their losses are diluted, the associates aren't. When push comes to shove, if the goal is finding the next generation's rainmakers, then it could make sense to overhire and cut a few off the bat. When it's firm specific it's worse, because firms are protective of that and will only give your 3 months if you sign something that won't let you say why you were laid off. If you breach it, they're obviously going to deny any inquiry, and enough people follow it that Jews never gets out. A bad policy committee is worse than a bad economy, because with the latter people the firm was struggling. It sucks because you go to a firm partly based the people, but a few old men you never meet control your future.


What's with the radical change to your post? Also... the Jews? Huh?

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby kalvano » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:43 am

RaceJudicata wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When throw in Dechert. You're basically betting on the policy committees accurately forecasting their needs. It's not a firm being slow so much as it is a firm misforecasting their needs. You're basically betting on people with little business training to make good business choices. At the end of the day, guessing wrong doesn't affect the partners as much as the associates. Their losses are diluted, the associates aren't. When push comes to shove, if the goal is finding the next generation's rainmakers, then it could make sense to overhire and cut a few off the bat. When it's firm specific it's worse, because firms are protective of that and will only give your 3 months if you sign something that won't let you say why you were laid off. If you breach it, they're obviously going to deny any inquiry, and enough people follow it that Jews never gets out. A bad policy committee is worse than a bad economy, because with the latter people the firm was struggling. It sucks because you go to a firm partly based the people, but a few old men you never meet control your future.


What's with the radical change to your post? Also... the Jews? Huh?


"The news" with bad autocorrect, I assumed.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby RaceJudicata » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:39 am

kalvano wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When throw in Dechert. You're basically betting on the policy committees accurately forecasting their needs. It's not a firm being slow so much as it is a firm misforecasting their needs. You're basically betting on people with little business training to make good business choices. At the end of the day, guessing wrong doesn't affect the partners as much as the associates. Their losses are diluted, the associates aren't. When push comes to shove, if the goal is finding the next generation's rainmakers, then it could make sense to overhire and cut a few off the bat. When it's firm specific it's worse, because firms are protective of that and will only give your 3 months if you sign something that won't let you say why you were laid off. If you breach it, they're obviously going to deny any inquiry, and enough people follow it that Jews never gets out. A bad policy committee is worse than a bad economy, because with the latter people the firm was struggling. It sucks because you go to a firm partly based the people, but a few old men you never meet control your future.


What's with the radical change to your post? Also... the Jews? Huh?


"The news" with bad autocorrect, I assumed.


Haha fair point. Still a drastic change to the original post. Maybe got spooked that dechert was coming after him or her.

Anonymous User
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:16 am

Interesting post. I almost lateraled to BB a few years ago and am so glad I ended up in-house instead.

My impression is that the firm is still having trouble adjusting to the new order. It used to be that high-end corporate work in Texas pretty much defaulted to BB or VE. With all of the major national firms setting up shop (and taking many of their best partners), that's no longer the case.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby favabeansoup » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hillary Holmes (one of top rainmakers in group), Gerry Spedale (Centerpoint is his client), Tull Florey (head of Houston corporate), Shalla Pritchard (finance), Doug Rayburn (head of Dallas office) and James Chenoweth (MLP tax guy) are all leaving to open Gibson Dunn's Houston office. Baker Botts is making the partners stay during their three-month notice period. They're probably doing that so that the firm can transition their clients to other partners and keep the clients from jumping to Gibson (just speculating)pretty much fact.


Really interested in seeing how Gibson will affect market / hirings in Houston. Kirkland made a big splash. I don't expect it to be that big b/c Kirkland was nuts with bonuses even for summers, for Gibson should be an interesting mix up.

Anonymous User
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 4:45 pm

favabeansoup wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hillary Holmes (one of top rainmakers in group), Gerry Spedale (Centerpoint is his client), Tull Florey (head of Houston corporate), Shalla Pritchard (finance), Doug Rayburn (head of Dallas office) and James Chenoweth (MLP tax guy) are all leaving to open Gibson Dunn's Houston office. Baker Botts is making the partners stay during their three-month notice period. They're probably doing that so that the firm can transition their clients to other partners and keep the clients from jumping to Gibson (just speculating)pretty much fact.


Really interested in seeing how Gibson will affect market / hirings in Houston. Kirkland made a big splash. I don't expect it to be that big b/c Kirkland was nuts with bonuses even for summers, for Gibson should be an interesting mix up.


Gibson is going to be offering signing bonuses as well. They won't get any quality associates if not. No one is giving up that BB/VE or Latham/Kirkland name at this point when they know they have broken into the market well and provide above market bonuses and good exit options. I suppose if Gibson is willing to take on associates at second tier corporate shops who are looking to "upgrade" then they don't have to offer money. Should be interesting to see, I imagine the calls are going to be starting soon. I don't think they will throw Kirkland money around, but they are not getting anyone good for free.

Jchance
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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Jchance » Mon May 01, 2017 5:12 pm

Npret wrote:I wish 0Ls would understand how uncertain a biglaw career job can be. They just don't seem to understand or they assume it will never happen to them.


Fixed that for you.

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Re: Do Not Lateral to Baker Botts

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 02, 2017 12:33 am

Anyone have thoughts about whether Latham or Skadden will really go to Dallas? That would shake up BB and VE as well - there's not much else established up there.




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