Bickel & Brewer paints itself as the type of high-powered,
bet-the-bank commercial litigation firm you would see on prime
time. And perhaps it's a fitting image: the firm's commercial
litigation and dispute resolution experts represent some of the
nation's biggest oil and gas, real estate and technology firms in
Ruffling Feathers in Dallas
Founded in 1984, Bickel and Brewer quickly developed a
reputation for what the New York Times then referred to as
a "bare-knuckles" approach to litigation. The firm's legal team is
not afraid to take on complex commercial litigation battles, and
its no-holds-barred approach to litigation has earned grudging
admiration from its competitors.
Bickel & Brewer takes its talent pool seriously, and with
first-year salaries set at a whopping $185,000, the firm can afford
to be selective. Many of its attorneys have backgrounds in
technical fields like biology and chemistry. The firm also employs
a group of in-house litigation consultants, and even formed its own
in-house investigation group, staffed by former FBI agents.
Dressing for Power
Bucking the business casual trend, Bickel & Brewer snubs any
form of dressing down. Noting that even the mailroom clerks wear
suits and ties, the Wall Street Journal once recognized
firm co-founder and three-button suit aficionado Bill Brewer as one
of the legal industry's most committed "power dressers," a la
Gordon Gecko. Brewer told the Journal that "high-powered
lawyers" should "look like high powered lawyers."
Whether it will be hailed as a prophet or apocalyptic horseman
for its pioneering move of legal outsourcing remains to be seen,
but in 1995 Bickel & Brewer opened an office in Hyderabad,
India at which employees scan, code, index and abstract documents.
The practice was reportedly so successful that the firm created an
independent company to handle even more of the firm's work abroad.
While some of the outsourced tasks do not require law degrees, the
subsidiary has recently hired attorneys in India to help Bickel
& Brewer sort through extensive information in some big-ticket
cases at a much cheaper hourly rate.