The report from Law.com says that Heller Ehrman is likely moving toward dissolution.
Management held a firmwide videoconference at 4:30 p.m. to update the partnership on the status of the firm's line of credit, opportunities for groups and offices, and "plans for an orderly transition (or wind down)," according to an e-mail announcing the meeting.The blog Heller Highwater reports:
Something tells me there won’t be too may more of these “end of day” postings after today’s shareholder video conference. While the exact course of action isn’t known, word has it that it was a very difficult meeting and those who’ve cried on the inside didn’t hold it in any longer.Apparently the firm's line of credit may be in jeopardy, and without that...well, you get the picture. Heller's been trying to merge for some time now, to no avail. (Could it be because they've represented plaintiffs against insurance companies, causing conflicts of interest?) I'm sure parts of the puzzle will move in blocks to other firms (particularly the old Venture Law Group).
If these reports prove true, it will be a shame. As someone who went to law school in California (the firm's traditional home base), Heller was one of the firms you respected, not just for the name and size but because of the quality of the work they did. Did you always agree with them? Heck, no. But good lawyering is hard to dislike. Others will disagree, and that's fine. This is my soapbox, after all.
If things go in the direction some are predicting, I feel bad for the incoming class of 2008, the junior associates and especially the support staff. This isn't a great time to be job-hunting, and I wish them all the best of luck if they have to scramble for new gigs.