In a story published over the weekend, Howrey vice chairman Sean Boland told the Washington Post that he felt some lawyers had “sort of bailed” on his law firm, which has lost more than 70 partners over the past year and is in its final stages as a standalone operation. (Most of Howrey’s remaining partners are weighing offers to join the Chicago-based firm Winston & Strawn. Washingtonian.com has chronicled Howrey’s troubles here and here.)
“You have to ask your partners to be patient until it pays off, and not everyone is patient enough,” Boland told the Post.
Today, Howrey antitrust partner C. Scott Hataway joined the Washington office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. Asked about Boland’s remarks, Hataway says he had been patient long enough.
“Certainly, I recognized the firm’s troubles several months ago and could have left at that time, but I decided to wait to let the process play out and do the best I could to take care of my partners at Howrey,” Hataway tells Washingtonian.com.
He says he’s excited about the opportunity to help Paul, Hastings expand its antitrust presence. Unlike Howrey, which was known as a preeminent antitrust firm, Paul, Hastings is still working on growing the practice.
Says Hataway: “Sometimes the best opportunities are not sticking with what has been the best antitrust practice in the world but looking forward to what could become the best antitrust practice in the world.”
He received an offer to join Winston & Strawn but ultimately determined it wasn’t the best move for him. It’s unclear whether Winston & Strawn will incorporate the Howrey name into its own branding if enough of the Howrey partners come aboard. Hataway says he thinks the Howrey name is valuable and is of interest to both sides of the negotiations.
Another partner also announced his departure from Howrey’s Washington office today. Roger Klein, the head of Howrey’s corporate and transactional practice and the firm’s general counsel, joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Whether the Howrey brand survives in some form, the firm as it has existed for the past 55 years clearly will not.