End of the Day: 9/25/2008

Wow.  I want to go totally wordless here but it really isn’t appropriate given what just happened.  Here is what I know from having attended the 1:00 PM Firmwide teleconference with follow up Q&A session

- the shareholders of Heller Ehrman will be holding a vote tomorrow to pass a recommendation that the firm be dissolved.  Two-thirds vote is required for passage.  Non-passage would result in bankruptcy forced by the bank(s)

- Matt Larrabee did his usual best at communicating while not communicating.  The typical words such as “sad,” “tragic” and “avoid” were used as well as the expected blame on the economy.  This is one case where it isn’t the economy stupid!

- during some of the Q&A sessions which took place in each office and hosted by the office managing shareholder, many questions were raised and some good information imparted

- it appears that Heller is in debt to the tune of $50M with accounts receivable of approximately $118M.  With a normal recovery rate of 90%, it is in the best interests of everyone – bank and shareholders – to work in a “receivership” state once the dissolution vote passes and to not be forced into involuntary bankruptcy

- either tomorrow, Friday, September 26 or Monday, September 29, special counsel, associates and all staff will receive a WARN notification outlining the next steps the firm intends to take in terms of winding down the firm’s business

- only a “key group” will be needed to maintain the firm business which includes processing outstanding bills, expenses, AR collection and more importantly transfer of records including electronic data to the new firms for shareholders and the associates lucky enough to go with them to those new firms

- one predicted area of contention between staff and management, evidenced by the many forceful arguments made by competent staff during the Q&A sessions, will be vacation accrual.  A discussion of this topic will appear later tonite or early tomorrow morning.  Let’s just say staff is pissed.

So there you have it.  I really was hoping not to do anything but maybe post a quite tribute video, nothing too sappy, maybe a nice calming tune and then deal with all this tomorrow.  Not gonna happen.

And while I could haul out my “I Love The 80s” songlist and play Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club or perhaps Bikini Girls With Machine Guns by The Cramps, I am offering a solemn piece entitled Sailing by Fron Male Voice Choir.  If you don’t know these guys that is your loss.  

Remember, stay calm, be prepared, go home and try to unwind, protect yourself, protect your family.  Tell people you love them.

And call your mother please.  She worries.

19 Responses to “End of the Day: 9/25/2008”


  1. 1 Patrick 25 September 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Is this officially “all hand abandon ship” time?

    So sad to see Heller fall apart, its a loss not only to the staff and the attorneys, but also to the city of San Francisco.

  2. 2 NearerMyGodToThee 25 September 2008 at 3:43 pm

    And like the Titanic, it appears there are not enough lifeboats on this sinking ship for everyone . . .

  3. 3 hellerdrone 25 September 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I am here to tell you now it is not All Hands Abandon Ship right now. The only reason a Heller Ehrman support staff person should go is if they have such a stellar offer that it is not to be believed, that it would make grown men weep and shareholders to look into their hearts and consider a different profession.

    Face it – right now you are going to be notified that you are guaranteed 60 days of pay. You are also, by law, entitled to your vacation accrual whether or not the shareholders try to tell you “that’s up to the bank.” Tell me – what bank do you know of will ask its client to break a law and not pay an employee what it is due under federal or state law.

    Sit tight but please, please make plans. You cruise director is doing just that. Staying the course. And waiting to see what is in that WARN notice we should receive today or tomorrow.

    Over and out.

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

  4. 4 DOT 25 September 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Heller will always hold a special place in my heart because of the friends and fantastic memories I’ve had in my 17+ years there. Although I am thankful that I was able to secure employment prior to the dissolution. I still feel for all my friends that remain there. I hope you all land on your feet. Now is not the time to discuss who screwed things up. Let’s focus on sending good karma to those that need it most.

    Love you all….

  5. 5 FormerlyFromHell 25 September 2008 at 3:56 pm

    As another former Heller employee, I have to say that this is very sad news. Who would have expected a firm that was so strong such a short time ago, would now be breaking up on the rocks.

  6. 6 hellerdrone 25 September 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments – Heller staff really need to know from you who’ve already left that things do get better.

  7. 7 BML 25 September 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I use to work at Heller (14 years). I have a lot of friends there and enjoyed 12 of the 14 years that I worked there. Please don’t panic; if God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.

  8. 8 David Burstein 25 September 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Call your recruiters. If you are interested in coming to southern California, I would love to hear from you.

    David Burstein
    Recruitment Director
    Kelly Law Registry
    (213) 622 – 8920
    burstdl@kellyservices.com

  9. 9 snowflake 25 September 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’m gone 6 months and I still feel so sad to hear this news. When I left Heller, I went forward knowing that it was the best place I ever worked and that the people who worked there were some of the finest people I ever had the pleasure to meet. Nothing, not even a unique and veberable law firm like Heller Ehrman lasts forever. I am grateful that I landed in yet another place that’s pretty special, albeit in a totally different way. Take heart and go forward. Let’s be grateful that we each had an opportunity to share in a part of the 119 year old history of a firm that made you proud and happy to walk through it doors. Let’s prevail upon those who are responsible for winding down its operations to remain mindful that they must also safeguard its legacy. To all who served with respect and apprecation, may you all once again land in a good place.

  10. 10 cpr 25 September 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Why have so many major SF firms undergone such radical transformations in the past five years?

    Brobeck and Heller are gone, McCutcheon and Pillsbury have changed beyond recognition through merger.

    By contrast, LA-based firms like Latham, Gibson, OMM, and Paul Hastings soldier on.

    What gives?

  11. 11 SoCalGirl 25 September 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I cried when I read the news about Heller today. I am two years gone but worked there for 10. Heller was a very special firm made up of, for the most part, very special and outstanding people. Although there are other very nice firms out there – and I’m lucky enough to work for one – Heller and the friends I made there will always hold a special place in my heart. Good luck to all of you and I will keep you in my prayers.

  12. 12 Clueless 25 September 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Having run nearly the whole gamut of emotions today, I’m settling on pissed off (for now). I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying the crocodile tears from certain key speakers at today’s meeting. Give me a break. Must have practiced that in the mirror all week.

  13. 13 Sideliner 26 September 2008 at 4:52 am

    First of all, I’m not a Heller attorney or employee, but someone who has been part of the “orderly dissolution” and not-so-orderly dissolution of a few companies. I have to say, it always amazes me how poorly lawyers handle this. Meetings on Thursday, WARN notices on a Friday – simply idiotic. For future reference folks, you do all of these things on Mondays so people are not stuck at home over the weekend feely helpless but rather can go out the next day and start looking for work. Now, you dumba** partners, you have a whole lot of people who are just getting angrier and angrier for two days when they can do nothing to remedy the situation you have put them in. Classic.

  14. 14 former associate 26 September 2008 at 9:19 am

    The staff I worked with while at Heller were fantastic: intelligent and capable, and real. When you are looking for recommendations, don’t forget to ask people you worked with a few years ago who are elsewhere now. I hope your good work is rewarded.

  15. 15 Long Time HEWMster, First Time Caller 26 September 2008 at 9:40 am

    Hear me now and believe me later: Life goes on. Don’t dwell on the scraps. Get a grip. Move on. Network! If you apply yourself and use that resourcefulness that Heller staff are known for, you will find yourself in a BETTER place very soon. Avoid the doomsayers. You’re the captain of your own ship now. What is your heading?

  16. 16 hellerdrone 26 September 2008 at 9:44 am

    Thanks HEWMster – I deleted a comment from HatedHeller since it didn’t seem to serve any purpose PLUS it was filled with misinformation. Remember this is not a site to target specific non-management people at Heller, past or present. Save your venting for management. If you want to b*tch, be petty, and deflect the focus from your own personal problems then head on over to Above The Law (http://www.abovethelaw.com) where they run a nice program for Internet cranks who still live in their mothers’ basements.

    Heller Drone
    OTR Cruise Director

  17. 17 SeattleHere 26 September 2008 at 9:59 am

    I’m in Seattle – this is not a front page story in Seattle because of WaMu closing – It is a tragic day in Seattle because of WaMu. Can anyone tell me if they’ve heard anything about the future of Heller Seattle Office? We are undergoing renovations . . . have not be able to find any information.

  18. 18 Hell-ERROR 26 September 2008 at 10:45 am

    Im not sad to see Heller go… Im sad to see my friends and ex-colleages have the rug pulled from under them- especially in these times. However, when one door closes, another (if not several) open up. Keep your eyes open and NETWORK your asses off.

    Damn, no more 7 Times Square.

  19. 19 withheld 26 September 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Having been raised by a lawyer, I know how arrogant and heartless they can be. Heller didn’t die, it was killed. I hope the greedy idiots who caused your suffering shed a few tears of their own.


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Last Modified: September 14, 2008

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