Blum Collins

I wanted to fill everyone in on Blum Collins, the firm that is now representing the class action plaintiffs who had previously worked with Nichols Kaster.

First, as a matter of full disclosure, readers should know that I recently signed a retainer agreement with Blum Collins, for reasons which I’ll explain in a minute.

Second, due to the various issues involved with the class action suit, the named plaintiffs in the suit filed on October 20, 2008 felt that Blum Collins could better represent them and a possible ex-Heller employee class.

Third, if you would like Blum Collins to send you a retainer agreement outlining the areas of representation and the fee structure, then email me at hellerdrone@gmail.com.

Several ex-Hellerites have asked me, “why in the world do we need to even have representation since the matter of recovering our money is in bankruptcy court?” as well as, “why should I let a percentage of my recovered money go to someone like Blum Collins?” Without revealing anticipated strategy, here’s why I’ve signed on:

– I know from experience that with a complex case like ours, you just don’t file a Proof of Claim with the bankruptcy court and then sit back and wait (and wait) for the money to eventually fall in your lap. You need to be aggressive to pursue all avenues available to recover the wages that were due to you by Heller.

– I can’t imagine myself hiring my own bankruptcy counsel and/or labor law counsel, and having to do so with money up front, and doing it from here in Chicago for a San Francisco case.

– Blum Collins already represents the former employees of Thelen Reid LLP, another SF-based global law firm which dissolved in late 2008. There are certain efficiencies and economies of scale built in to having them represent the Heller class since the cases are very similar.

– It is obvious so far that our attempts to get a seat on the Creditors Committee, or despite our email efforts with Minnie Loo at the US Trustee’s office, the creation of an Employee’s Committee, have resulted in nada, zilch, bumpkus. So again, we need to be aggressive and I’d rather have a firm that has experience in this area to fight for me.

– Blum Collins was willing to provide a sliding scale fee arrangement which benefits ex-Hellerites who have smaller claims and have provided an overall discount to their standard contingency fee.

– Although there is no guarantee, some of the court costs may be covered administratively in bankruptcy court.

– Blum Collins is willing to pursue all avenues available to recover as much money as possible for the employees,

Finally, going forward you won’t see much discussion as to strategy here at Heller Highwater. This is the main reason why I’ve had to delay the Proof of Claim instructions. I am working out those instructions with Blum Collins and again need to emphasize that you should wait to file – you don’t want to run the risk of underestimating your claim and lose out on money due to you. The April 27, 2009 deadline for filing still holds and we still have almost three months to do so.

If you have questions or want to comment on possible representation with Blum Collins either email me at hellerdrone@gmail.com or make your opinion known in the comments section.

Over and out.

Heller Drone,
Cruise Director

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3 Responses to “Blum Collins”


  1. 1 Former Associate 7 February 2009 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for the update Thomas. Mulling it over.

    Monday’s CalLaw (which always posts the next day’s article at 7 p.m. the night before) has a very short article about Thelen’s answers filed in state and federal court. They’re playing the “it was impossible to comply with WARN”: “The answers say the firm should be excused from its obligations under the WARN Act because they were impossible to fulfill. And because the firm had been seeking capital to keep in business, informing employees would have jeopardized attempts to secure a loan.” Given all the firm layoffs going on lately, don’t you think a firm would have been more likely to merge with Thelen (and Heller) if the Thelen would have done layoffs first? In other words, it’s possible (even, perhaps, likely) that doing a mass layoff and complying with WARN would have INCREASED the firm’s ability to pull off a merger. And then there’s always the option of partners ponying up more money. It’s not that they Couldn’t comply, it’s that they Wouldn’t.

  2. 2 Observer 8 February 2009 at 4:26 am

    FA, more importantly, the law does not excuse payment of the WARN Act penalties, or the Cal waiting time penalties, on an excuse of ‘we didn’t have the money.’ There are certain defenses available to the employer, but bare ‘impossibility’ is not one of them. You’re not supposed to have people work for you if you aren’t going to be able to pay them.

    The more specific ‘we were trying to raise new capital’ argument is harder to refute, because it is more factual in nature. Depends on what Thelen was really doing at the time. For Heller, I’m not aware of any efforts (not that I would have known) that would qualify for that argument once the Mayer Brown merger effort fell through (about Aug. 17?). No further merger efforts after that, and I don’t think any effort to raise new capital from any outside source (because it would have been futile by then in the firm’s condition).

  3. 3 Former Associate 8 February 2009 at 9:27 am

    Observer,
    I remember hearing partners talk about “the WARN Act” just after the failed merger and long before any of us ever got notice, so they knew of the obligation. Also, I wonder if you could look at “raising capital” issue office-by-office. For example, if Mayer would still have done the deal without an L.A. or San Diego or Madison office, it seems unlikely that WARNing about a “plant closing” at any of those offices would have made it less likely for the deal to go through. Again, in the current climate, anything a firm could do to appear less bloated probably would increase the chances of getting picked up in a merger. Just a thought.

    And I agree with you about inability to pay not being an excuse. The Cal. DLSE’s own guidelines say so. And again, it’s not a true inability or impossibility — partners could have contributed additional capital to meet their obligations.


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