Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mayer Brown & Refco - not a new law firm

First they get criticized for de-equitizing non-producing partners. Now the firm is under fire for a report that suggests culpability on the Chicago-rooted firm for its work in the Refco bankruptcy in 2005.

According to the WSJ, "The 416-page report by bankruptcy examiner Joshua Hochberg takes Mayer Brown to task for having structured "round trip” loans allegedly designed to move bad debt off of Refco’s books." Mayer denies the allegations. And, among others, Grant Thornton is also apparently implicated in the report.

Does this mean Mayer is in big, big trouble? I hope not. I know a few lawyers there and have worked with (and against) them enough to have tremendous respect for the firm and its attorneys. I should also note that I don't think there is any allegation of criminal wrongdoing on the firm's part.

But there is an anti-lawyer climate out there right now. First Jenkens & Gilchrist goes down because of one or two bad apples. And certainly Milberg Weiss and perhaps Lerach Coughlin may face a rough road ahead. But Mayer? I just can't see it happening. But then I never thought Arthur Andersen would close shop either. Just as Andersen was the "auditor's auditor," I think of Mayer as the "lawyer's lawyers."