Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the collapse of Thelen. However, a group of former Thelen employees contend that the late firm’s obligations under the WARN Act live on in the hands of ex-Thelen partners’ current firms. The former employees are represented in their $18 million class action by LA boutique Blum Collins (“We are committed to protecting the concept of private property which forms the philosophical and economic foundation of our country”). Blum Collins is carving out a niche in “dead law firm aftermath litigation,” having recently secured a $19 million settlement for employees in the Heller bankruptcy.
Essentially, the former Thelen employees argue the current firms' hiring of the partners amounted to purchasing a portion of Thelen's business, thereby creating the WARN obligations of an employer. In August, the defendants (including Orrick; DLA Piper; Nixon Peabody; Howrey and Morgan Lewis) filed motions to dismiss, arguing that, since Thelen was dissolved, there was no acquisition or merger that would trigger WARN obligations.
As quoted in today’s Recorder, Blum Collins name partner Craig Collins believes that the defendants’ argument begs a basic question: "[D]oes that mean the WARN Act doesn't apply to law firms?"
-posted by brian
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