Archive for January, 2009

The Incoming Associates and Moving Expenses

Now here’s a right ugly situation to which we’ve been alerted.  We all know that the class of Incoming Associates at Heller had their start dates moved back to January and were promised a $10K stipend which never came through.

Also, in preparation for starting at Heller, many moved to their respective cities with the promise that Heller would pay the moving expenses.  Little did some of the New York people know that when they signed the bill of lading with Atlas Van Lines for their move, that they also agreed to this provision: if Heller Ehrman did not pay the moving expenses, then they (Incoming Associates) would be held responsible for the costs.

According to our source, here are the details:

– the bills were submitted to Accounting way back in October 2008 if not earlier

– some Incoming Associates insist that they never signed such forms despite Atlas Van Lines’ statements but Atlas refuses to make copies of the forms available to people who are trying to resolve the situation

Some of the Incoming Associates have asked whether they should file a Proof of Claim during the bankruptcy process and the answer is Yes not only for the moving fees but for the stipend, bar exam fees, and anything else contractually promised to them by Heller.

One thing you could do which would help, is contact Atlas Van Lines using their email contact form on their website ( and let them know that they should be filing a claim against Heller and need to prove that the forms were signed and the process of collecting from the Incoming Associate is in fact part of the bill of lading.

Got W-2?

I received my W-2 form yesterday in the mail and many have reporting since Tuesday that they have received theirs as well.  Those of us who are still without work or, like most people, are having a tough time in this economy will probably spend the weekend doing their taxes while watching the Big Game.

I haven’t verified the amounts with my last paystub but since it is automated using ADP, I’m pretty certain it is correct.

Just a quick word of thanks to the folks on the Heller “stay team” for getting these forms out on time and especially to Carol Budinger and Luz Chinn in Payroll who probably had to field many e-mails. 

Attempt To Purchase Malpractice Insurance: FAIL

A bit of good news came out of bankruptcy court on Wednesday: Judge Montali denied Heller Ehrman’s request to purchase tail coverage malpractice insurance.

I’ve placed a link to the article in The Recorder – Heller Ehrman Estate Can’t Buy Malpractice Coverage – in the News Articles section.  

Job Seekers – 25 Great Search Engines

I want to point out a great post over at Resume Bear entitled “25 Job Search Engines For Job Seekers.”  Besides the standards such as Monster and CragisList, have you ever heard of:

  • SimplyHired?
  • WorkTree?
  • Idealist?

Check it out!

“Why Didn’t Partners Reach Into Their Pockets?”

There is an article in today’s Daily Journal entitled “Heller Nears Deal with S.F. Landlord, Meets With Creditors,” which highlights some of the proceedings at yesterday’s meeting of creditors in bankruptcy court. [Note: due to copyright issues, the article will not be replicated in its entirety here at Heller Highwater]

One interesting exchange came from Steven Blum (a former Heller associate during the 1990s and representing a class of former Heller Ehrman employees) and Peter Benvenutti:

“Why didn’t partners reach into their pockets [to satisfy their obligations under the WARN Act]?” Blum asked Benvenutti during the meeting.

Benvenutti paused for a long minute.  It almost seemed he might not answer.

“They had no legal obligation to do so,” he said finally.

Speaks much to doing the “legal thing” and doing the “right thing” doesn’t it?

I’ll have more about Steve Blum and Blum Collins in an upcoming post later today.

Job Posting: Financial Services Manager – SF

Job Title:  Financial Services Manager
 FLSA Status: Exempt
 Department: Financial Services
Reports To: Office Administrator, SF Administrative Partner and Partner in Charge, with guidance from Firmwide Director of Financial Services
Schedule: 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. M-F Evenings and weekends as required.

General Summary:

Under supervision of the Office Administrator and SF Administrative Partner and Partner in Charge and following prescribed Office and Firm procedures, the Financial Services Manager is responsible for managing the activity of the Financial Services Department on a daily basis. The Financial Services Manager is expected to demonstrate initiative, set priorities for the department, ensure timely and accurate completion of assignments, and oversee compliance by those in the department with Firm and Office policies and procedures. The Financial Services Manager is expected to maintain expertise in the tasks or services provided by the department and to work on, as well as delegate, tasks assigned to the team. Further, the Financial Services Manager is expected to serve as a positive role model for the departmental staff, providing on-the-job training and mentoring, and promoting staff development. The Financial Services Manager is expected to perform all job duties with a commitment to providing superior service to lawyers and clients, producing quality work products, and maintaining an atmosphere of teamwork and continuous improvement. Above all, the Financial Services Manager must fulfill the needs of the Office in a manner which is consistent with the Firm’s visions and values.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES (Duties are performed throughout every work day, as necessary):

  • Set priorities, coordinate and participate in the daily workflow for the department, ensuring quality of work and timely completion of assignments during regular business hours and on an overtime/weekend staffing basis. This includes responsibility for all aspects of daily accounting, i.e., cash receipts, check disbursements, time reporting, expense reporting, billing, accounts receivable and accounts payable.
  • Monitor department productivity; develop and implement procedures to optimize effectiveness; ensure that space, equipment an technology are used effectively.
  • Supervise departmental personnel and monitor attendance and performance issues; conduct conferences with departmental staff regarding such issues, as needed.
  • Supervise and be involved in all aspects of client billing, including:
  1.  Monitor aging of unbilled fees for assigned billing attorneys and/or clients
  2.  Collection activities as directed by the billing attorney
  3.  Drafting and finalizing client bills
  4.  Prepare cover letters and any required spreadsheets, rate charts, or other information to accompany bills
  • Serve as mentor to departmental staff and assist in staff development; implement standards of excellence and customer service; and with the guidance of the Office Administrator, provide departmental staff with an understanding of future expectations and initiate changes needed to meet them.
  • Implement, at the Office level, Firm accounting standards, policies and programs.
  • Resolve problems when possible and, as necessary, report problems to others in the Office or department in a timely manner.
  • Maintain a professional and courteous manner at all times, contribute to constructive resolution of conflicts within the department and between the department and others in the Office or Firm.
  • Prepare and monitor San Francisco Office budgets and expenditures, and ensure that vendors provide cost-effective goods and services.
  • Work directly with attorneys on billing and collection matters.
  • Oversee the uploading of soft cost files such as long-distance phone charges, photocopy charges, airfares and calling card charges.
  • Direct activities and policies relating to Firm Trust accounts.
  • Oversee policies and procedures regarding travel services and airline ticketing.
  • Maintain banking relationships and determine policies and procedures regarding local office banking activities.
  • Respond to written and telephone inquiries from attorneys and staff ensuring that they are answered ASAP with particular attention to adherence to Firm policy.

OTHER DUTIES (Duties are performed periodically, as necessary):

  • Prepare or oversee and review bank reconciliations, control log reconciliations, fixed asset schedules, petty cash reconciliations and sales tax returns.
  • Coordinate office-wide effort to produce annual budget; assist other managers with the preparation of their annual budgets.
  • Complete year-end account analysis audit information.
  • Analyze, write-up and perform data entry for cash receipts.
  • Perform A/R write-offs with proper approval.
  • Supervise and review all aspects of expense reporting.
  • Prepare department news for weekly Office Bulletin.
  • Under the direction of the Office Administrator, when requested, evaluate current contracts and research alternative providers for goods and services; evaluate bid proposals and make recommendations on contracts.
  • Coordinate and work as a team with other departments to provide necessary services to lawyers and clients.
  • Evaluate assigned staff and participate in their annual performance reviews.
  • Develop long-term plans and goals for the department in cooperation with the Office Administrator.
  • Participate in available professional development activities; monitor publications and other sources of information for trends affecting the department’s performance.
  • Participate in orientation for all new attorneys and for paralegals and staff as needed.


  • Proficiency in the use of a calculator.
  • Thorough knowledge of Firm’s accounting system.
  • Thorough knowledge of Excel.
  • Thorough knowledge of Firm’s e-mail system.
  • Basic knowledge of human resources policies, practices and legal requirements.
  • Strong leadership skills and willingness to function as a role model within the Office.
  • Excellent judgment and common sense.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills, including the ability to organize self and others.
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills.
  • Ability to read, write and speak English.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Ability to read, comprehend and follow instructions.
  • Proficiency on office equipment used on a regular basis including computers, printers, copy machines, facsimile machines and telephones.
  • Ability to work independently, take initiative, set priorities and see projects through completion.
  • Ability to meet deadlines and respond to changing priorities.
  • Ability to handle many tasks simultaneously.
  • Ability to perform clerical tasks with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Ability to work with a wide range of people in a team setting.
  • Ability to establish effective working relationships within the department, Office and Firm.
  • Ability to establish effective working relationships with clients, vendors and others outside the Firm.
  • Ability to perform mathematical functions – add, subtract, multiply, divide, percentages.
  • Strong service orientation.
  • Commitment to professional growth.
  • Commitment to the Office and Firm.


  • See.
  • Hear.
  • Speak.
  • Duties performed may be in aisles, open areas and compact rooms.
  • Duties require fine manipulation (typing).
  • Duties require simple grasping (files, documents, telephone, writing instruments).


  • Four-year college degree
  • Minimum of 5 years experience in law fm accounting or equivalent education or work experience
  • Minimum of 3 years supervisory experience.

Submit resume and salary requirement to:

Patricia Alcala, Human Resources Coordinator
Jones Day
555 California St., 26th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104

Jones Day is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Applicants are considered for all positions without regard to race, religious creed, sex, color, national origin, ancestry, mental or physical disability (including AIDS and cancer-related medical conditions) unrelated to the job to be performed, marital status, sexual orientation or any other status or condition protected by law.

Heller’s Request for a Claims Administrator


Besides having an incorrect date on the first page (states that the bankruptcy filing date as December 28, 2009 not 2008), it does not give an estimate as to how much it will cost to utilize a Claims Agent.  There is a mention of hourly rates in the range of $25 to $250 however.

Life preserver.jpg
Remember the words of Rev. Frank Scott (Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure):

". . . sitting on our butts is not going to help us either. Maybe by climbing out of here, we can save ourselves. If you've got any sense, you'll come along with us."

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Heller Highwater (
Last Modified: September 14, 2008

- Don't be a dill weed.

- Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

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- a place for support, a place of empowerment, a place of passion;

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- a place of refuge.

Note: in no way, shape or form is Heller Highwater sanctioned, supported or even recognized, (but it is very likely monitored) by the management of Heller Erhman, LLP. The opinions represented here and on each and every page of Heller Highwater do not constitute the opinions of Heller Ehrman, LLP or its shareholders or its management. In addition, the comments left by visitors do not reflect the opinions of Heller Highwater.