Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Heller SF headquarters reverts to lender

While I’ve posted the article, S.F. tower’s owners will foreit it to lender which appeared in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, over in the News Articles section, I feel the matter warrants a separate post here at Heller Highwater.

If you read the article you will see that the building’s former owners try to place the blame on the Heller Ehrman dissolution (and its impact on the 65% vacancy rate).  While Heller’s problems are directly related to a large block of 333 Bush being vacated prematurely, it also appears that Heller’s former landlord purchased the building at an inopportune time (in 2007 at the height of the real estate market) and that they were over-extended on their other properties.

I also wonder why 333 Bush Associates still sits on the Unsecured Creditors Committee with the U.S. Trustee’s office during this bankruptcy process.  Will they be asked to vacate their seat on the committee? Perhaps it will be offered to a former Heller Ehrman non-shareholder employee?

Right now the committee seems to be overloaded with former shareholders who have no incentive to oversee the collection of some $70 million in outstanding client billings owed to the estate.

The employees still have no voice on that committee despite repeated requests with the U.S. Trustee’s office.

(San Francisco Chronicle via SFGate)

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Pursuing Greenberg Traurig for Malpractice

There is interesting news out today (see News Articles and the links below) concerning Greenberg Traurig’s role in the Heller Ehrman dissolution last year.

Basically: Greenberg should have run a UCC search when they signed Heller on as a client and should have discovered that Bank of America had cancelled its security interest in the Heller line of credit.  This seems to be a standard practice of most firms in taking on a new client or pursuing a new matter.

It was not until the attorneys for one of Heller Ehrman’s landlords discovered the UCC issue.

So now, not only does Greenberg Traurig seem ripe for a malpractice suit from either the Unsecured Creditors Committee and/or other parties, but should someone be going after any errors and omissions insurance carried by Heller?

Lawyers Beware, Malpractice-Allegation Week is Here! – WSJ Law Blog

Greenberg Traurig Faces Investigation Over Heller Ehrman Representation – The AmLaw Daily

Greenberg Traurig Faces Malpractice Questions in Heller Representation – The ABA Journal

The Morning Wrap – The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times

Greenberg Traurig in Hot Water Over Representation of Heller – The Recorder via

Billing On The Way Out

We’ve received a copy of a memo which was sent to all billing shareholders at Heller as part of the dissolution process.  This may help to answer some of the questions as to what “arrangements” were made in terms of collecting Heller’s receivables especially for those shareholders on their way out the door.

September 26, 2008

Dear Billing Shareholder:

            You are receiving this letter because you are a Billing Shareholder.  As you know, the Plan of Dissolution of Heller Ehrman, LLP (the “Firm”), dated as of September 26, 2008 (the “Plan”) has been approved by the Shareholders.  Pursuant to the Plan, you will be receiving a monthly tabulation of your work-in-process and accounts receivable by client and matter.  The tabulation will also indicate the amounts you have collected since the last report.  Please note that in accordance with Article XI E of the Plan, any record of success/failure and cooperation in connection with billing and collection will be taken into account in allocating any returns of capital to Shareholders.

We request that you prepare and send bills to the clients in the amounts stated within one week of such accrual.  Any failure on your part to do so will result in the Dissolution Committee having to take on the task of arranging to have these bills prepared and sent to your clients.

The bills you prepare must conform with the following guidelines:

1.        Each bill must indicate the outstanding balance due;

2.        All billing must be strictly based upon the outstanding amount of work-in-process, provided that: if you determine that the client should pay a premium for the work done, you may prepare a bill in excess of the amount of work-in-process; and provided further that, you will have discretion to write-down the lesser of $1000 or 10% of the work-in-process; and

3.        If there is an existing arrangement with a client not to bill a matter until its completion (or some similar practice), you should prepare a “dummy bill.”  This “dummy bill” will reduce the work-in-process and be forwarded to the client at the time that the matter is completed.  You are required to provide appropriate documentation of any such special arrangement to the Dissolution Committee immediately.

As the Billing Shareholder, you must assume primary responsibility for collecting all accounts receivable for which you are responsible at the Firm that are less than 90 days old.  If you are unwilling to assume such responsibility or appear to be uncooperative or to be acting in bad faith, or in any event, if any accounts receivable more than 90 days old are not paid within thirty (30) days of the date of the letter, the Dissolution Committee will take all actions it deems necessary to collect such accounts receivable from your clients.  For good cause, the Plan provides that the Dissolution Committee in its discretion may permit you to continue to remain responsible for collection of certain accounts receivable that are more than 90 days old but you must advise immediately why there is good cause.

Your inquiries or comments regarding the work-in-process and accounts receivable for which you are responsible in the first instance should be directed to the Manager or the Deputy Manager.  Except as permitted above, you may not writedown work-in-process or write-off accounts receivable without prior written approval of the Dissolution Committee.  You must direct clients to pay their bills immediately unless the Dissolution Committee has otherwise consented in writing.  Such consent may be granted in the following circumstance:

1.          The Firm had entered into a written payment plan with the client prior to the dissolution and you have submitted a copy of this agreement to the Dissolution Committee;

2.          There is a prior existing written agreement between the Firm and the client that provides that the client will not be required to pay until the occurrence of some contingency or the completion of the matter and you have submitted a copy of this agreement to the Dissolution Committee;

3.          The client has filed bankruptcy and you have submitted a copy of the proof of claim that the Firm has previously filed against the client’s bankruptcy estate; and

4.          Other extenuating circumstances which you feel should be approved by the Dissolution Committee.

Unless you request otherwise, and such request is granted by the Dissolution Committee, all unapplied receipts will be applied to outstanding accounts receivable for a particular client on the basis of oldest bill first, applied to disbursements and then to fees.  You must get written approval from the Dissolution Committee and./or the Manager if you do not want the Collection Staff to contact the client directly for payment.

Additionally, enclosed please find a draft letter to your clients with active matters and/or outstanding accounts receivable.  Also enclosed, please find a letter to your new law firm, if applicable, regarding (i) fee splitting arrangements when the final fee is subject to performance of additional work and (ii) accounting for/certification in respect of fee splitting arrangements.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.


The Dissolution Committee

Happy New Year

I hope that 2009 brings all of us what we need as well as what we desire.  Much has taken place over the past three and a half months and some of us don’t want to look back.  This is understandable.

In the new year followers of Heller Highwater can count on frequent communication and updates on the bankruptcy process as well as helpful tools for filing taxes (you didn’t forget did you?)  and making it through 2009.

And this Friday you’ll see posts on how to file a proof of claim in the bankruptcy process, how to join the newly formed Employees’ Committee as well as other information.  

The bankruptcy court and the Heller Dissolution Committee must face the fact that the  former employees of Heller Ehrman who are owed money as a group constitute one of the largest unsecured creditors in this process.   We don’t intend to be out-maneuvered or under represented.  And much of that depends on your participation.

I look forward to traveling down this road with you over the next few months and years.  Have a great New Year!!!

Ex-Heller SF Get Together – Was Larrabee There?

A group of almost 100 ex-Hellerites met up at the Hyatt Regency (Embarcadero) in San Francisco on Wednesday night and I am only getting information in dribs and drabs right now.

First, if there are photos and you’d like them placed here on Heller Highwater then email me at  

Second, several people stated that Matt Larrabee actually had the chutzpah to show up.  Yes, granted, he is an ex-Hellerite like the rest of us but considering the fact that he was one of the major players in this tragedy you’d think he’d have the sense to stay away.

If this is the case, I would like to hear about any encounters, discussions, words traded with Mr. Larrabee and whether anyone actually confronted him on his actions and the actions of the rest of the Dissolution Committee.  I think followers of Heller Highwater would like to know as well.

Is Larrabee turning out to be our very own Blagojevich?  Does he just not get it like the rest of the D.C.? Or does he just think that the rules of common decency that apply to the rest of us mere mortals, just don’t apply to him?

Is That Really The Best You Can Do?

If you haven’t yet read the article about unemployed Heller and Thelen attorneys in The National Law Journal, here’s a real gem from an anonymous member of the Dissolution Committee:

A member of Heller’s dissolution committee, who requested anonymity, confirmed that about 300 people, including lawyers and staff, remain on the job market. “These are really tough times, and we hope that people are landing on their feet. We know some people haven’t. We know that’s a tragedy, but that’s the best we can do.” 

Really?  Is that the best you can do is offer hope?  And exactly what kind of hope are you offering?

This shareholder has the utter gall to make a statement like that while he/she and 85% of the other attorneys have made some form of safe landing.  In my heart I truly believe a special place in Hell is being set aside for this person and the other players in this “tragedy.”

The holidays seasons must look bright and merry when you are looking down.  I can tell you personally that they don’t look so good when you are looking up.

“Are Your Holiday Cards Done Yet?”

If you worked as a secretary at Heller Ehrman you remember the big push by Marketing to get those holiday cards out to clients, etc.  And if you were a trainer or in IT you remember having to pull out all the stops to get people re-acclimated with Interface CRM to generate the labels etc.

Well,I’m  sorry to say that this is one last push for holiday cards but I promise this will be worth it.  

Send the members of the Dissolution Committee and other Heller Ehrman shareholders your sincerest holiday wishes if you are up to it, and you if can afford it.  When making out your holiday cards over the next few days, set aside a few for those people who’ve had the greatest impact on your holiday season this year.

Let them know that you were thinking of them and how nice it is that they’ve landed safely at another firm if that’s the case.  Make sure they know how their actions have impacted you and your family this holiday season.  Tell them about the lack of medical coverage, mention what you’ve had to do without since your termination, and fill them in on how it is to look for work in this economy.

Here is a short list of Dissolution Committee members and a few key players in Heller’s demise.  


Peter Benvenutti
Jones Day
555 California Street, 26th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

Robert D. Framm
Covington & Burling LLP
One Front Street
San Francisco, CA 94111-5356

Robert T. Haslam
333 Twin Dolphin Drive
Suite 700
Redwood Shores, CA 94065-1418

Jonathan Hayden
Lovitt & Hannan, Inc.
900 Front Street, Suite 300
San Francisco 94111

Richard Holdrup
Heller Ehrman
333 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Barry S. Levin
The Orrick Building
405 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-2669

Matt Larrabee
Dechert LLP
One Maritime Plaza
Suite 2300
San Francisco, CA 94111-3513

Lynn J. Loacker
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
1633 Broadway, 27th Floor
New York, New York 10019-6708

Brad Scott
Heller Ehrman
333 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Paul Sugarman
Heller Ehrman
333 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

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.

- Ladies and children first.

- This is a rescue, not a bitch session.

- Help don't harm.

- Save the snarks for the attorneys and Above The Law.

Heller Highwater is not:

- a place to practice viscious and vindictive "whisper down the lane" rumour-mongering;

- a place to bad mouth co-workers;

- a place for diatribes against specific people or specific incidents;

- a place to heap pity on poor Heller Ehrman staff by outsiders;

- a place that discriminates or sets margins noting who is outside and who is inside - we even welcome supportive Heller Ehrman attorneys!;

- meant to further the demise of Heller Ehrman, LLP.

Heller Highwater is:

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

- a place to learn about job leads, resume preparation, skill building, training, new opportunities, and how to succeed in a new workplace;

- a place to keep up on the latest news as to how Heller Ehrman management intends to treat its support staff as it winds down its operations - will it be every woman for herself? or will it be "let me hold the door for you and is there anything else I can do for you"?

- 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.