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by Vault Law Editors | December 22, 2008


It?s a good thing Old Man Winter officially extended his frosty tentacles over the weekend, or our ode to firms that bid ?Bye-ku? this fall would have been woefully incomplete. The latest to drop, of course, will likely be Thacher Proffitt, which reportedly lost more than half of its remaining attorneys over the weekend when around 100 lawyers?including 40 partners?broke away for shores more Sonnenschein-y. The remaining 75-ish attorneys were said to be in line to receive 60-day WARN notices today; while this remains but a rumor, the Sunday proclamation by Thacher?s departing planning committee chair that the firm?s forward-facing viability is ?not likely? doesn?t bode well for the 160-year-old outfit.

As was the case with Heller Ehrman, news of a failed last-ditch merger attempt hastened the Thacher exodus, with King & Spalding playing the role of the flirtatious older girl this time around. Sonnenschein?s haul is a mishmash of lawyers representing the full spectrum of Thacher practices, including dozens of specialists from the very area that King & Spalding reportedly grew to covet?structured finance. Others will join?the new troops are slated to arrive on New Year?s Day?from Thacher?s litigation department, which quietly lost its short-tenured leader some time ago to his old firm, DLA Piper, The American Lawyer reports. Perhaps most telling, however, is the fact that even as it bunkered down with King & Spalding, Thacher was already waist-deep in efforts to unload its five floors at Two World Trade Center?a/k/a ?firm headquarters.?

Before you hit the couch for three hours of frozen football, though, one more for your ?Case of the Mondays? file: As AmLaw reported today, Polaroid filed for bankruptcy last week for the second time in seven years, tapping local (read: Minnesota) power Lindquist & Vennum for the honor. (Asking Skadden to return for a second Chapter 11 go-around isn?t in the cards thus far, and Kirkland & Ellis?owed nearly $160,000 by Polaroid?probably isn?t waiting by the phone.) In last Thursday?s filing, the company cemented its reputation for timely irony: While the 2001 restructuring came largely as a result of Polaroid?s failure to embrace the digital camera (skinny-jeans-induced psychosis can scare only so many consumers away from the pixelated world), the current Chapter 11 has more to do with the $2 billion fraud case against Thomas Petters, owner of Polaroid?s parent company. Petters, who controls two entities with a combined $213.5 million in claims against Polaroid, awaits trial for allegedly using fake notes to defraud hedge funds and other investors as well as for siphoning money from his own business ventures.

Two bankruptcies?one driven by a total failure to grasp new technology and keep pace with competition, the other by a leader?s use of sham investments to cheat hedge funds out of huge sums of cash in order to help support a lavish lifestyle. Hmm?sounds vaguely familiar, doesn?t it? Yeah?something about SUVs and Toronto.

-posted by ben fuchs


Filed Under: Law

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