Your cruise director received an e-mail from a former incoming Heller associate who was expected to report to the New York office last Fall. If you remember, the start dates were pushed back to January, promises of a stipend were made, yada yada yada. Well here is a new twist on the old plot line “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”
The incoming associate told me that he moved to New York a week before the announcement was made about the reconfigured start dates. Since the move was arranged through Heller, the incoming associate thought that the bill for the movers had been paid. Guess again.
He received a letter from the moving company stating that Heller had refused to pay the bill and the terms of the bill of lading used during the moved states that he would have to pay up in the event that Heller didn’t.
Now being asked to cough up close to $5,000, I’m sure the incoming associate wasn’t expecting that. This is another example of not only the false promises offered by Heller but the utter lack of communication which has been the hallmark of Heller’s management style for quite some time.
As I’ve stated before, I hope that the incoming associates get in line with the rest of us and complete a Proof of Claim form for many of the items such as moving expenses, stipend, bar exam fees, etc. that Heller had promised it would provide.
I want to make a special plea to all the incoming associates of Heller Ehrman and the readers of Heller No More: please get involved with the bankruptcy process!
You may not realize it, but as an incoming associate and especially one who may have received the November 6, 2008 letter from the Dissolution Committee, you do have valid breach of contract issues that can and should be asserted in bankruptcy court. But this will only happen if you file a proof of claim (instructions canbe found here in an upcoming post) and better yet if you organize as a group.
Heller Ehrman not only put forth an entire litany of promises during the recruiting process ($10,000 stipend in lieu of a later start date, transportation/moving expenses, bar exam stipends) but consider how this has impacted your career as an attorney starting out in Biglaw?
There is a preliminary meeting for formation of the Unsecured Creditors Committee tomorrow, January 5, 2009, in San Francisco at 10:30 a.m. It would be great and lend much to our presence as employees if an incoming associate could contact me so I can give you instructions on completing the Unsecured Creditors Committee form and appearing in person at the meeting.
Please don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Do not expect that money will automatically fall into your lap simply by filing a proof of claim!
I quickly want to point out a post over on Heller No More – a blog which focuses on the many incoming associates that Heller Ehrman left stranded and without much communication.
With the November 6 letter to incoming associates from the Dissolution Committee stating there would be no stipend as previously promised, etc., several incomings are considering a lawsuit against Heller.
HNM, the blog author, poses a series of question which I will post here as well. It would be great if you could visit Heller No More and make your opinions known in the comments section.
- Would a lawyer even accept our case pro bono?
- If not, who among us can even afford a decent attorney?
- Do we have enough people to even constitute a class?
- Even if we did have a class action lawsuit, will there be anything left to sue for?
- What priority will we have against other creditors and other tort plaintiffs?
- Will only the named plaintiffs receive any real compensation?
- Will the “real compensation” be even close to being “worth it”?
- Do we have any real legal legs to stand on? Were the promised sums contingent and not guaranteed to start with?
- If there is no contract case, what about detrimental reliance? But is detrimental reliance appropriate in a class action suit?
- Would you rather spend your time job searching (or for some, working hard at the new job) instead of suing?
- Would being an active plaintiff affect your life attitude (life meaning your life for the duration of the lawsuit)? If so, how so?
- How do you think suing would affect your work reputation and future?
- What factors make you want to sue and which make you hesitate?
- Other concerns about a lawsuit?
We received a note from the author and owner of the blog Heller No More updating us on the status of the incoming associates. Here is a link to the letter which was sent to all incomings.
In short, the letter states:
- Heller has decided to renege on the offer of a $10,000 stipend to each of the incoming associates since the start date was delayed to January 2009. This offer was made in August 2008. The same statement we’ve constantly heard “we can’t get approval for the payment” is offered up again in relation to the stipend.
- Along the same lines, moving expenses and bar stipends will not be paid as offered.
As with many other similar communications from the Dissolution Committee, this one is not signed by any one person.