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April 26, 2011

Yeah, Right: EDD Took Down Howrey

Ruyak_robert_06 Our former ALM colleague, Ashby Jones, has been tracking Howrey's implosion for the Wall Street Journal on its Law Blog. A recent post caught my eye, with the headline "CEO Ruyak Partly Blames Contingency-Fees, Discovery Vendors, for Howrey's Fall."  Whaaaaat? 

Jones reports that his colleague Vanessa O'Connell interviewed Robert Ruyak (right) last March, shortly before the firm voted to dissolve. The firm, at its peak, had a roster of about 750 lawyers, and used the slogan "In Court Every Day," to frame itself as a "go-to" lit and IP practice in the U.S. and Europe, she reported.

Ruyak said the slowdown in the litigation market in 2008-09 brought swings in firm profits, triggering defections, and with clients looking to trim costs, the firm tok on more contingency cases, she noted. Another factor was the rise of third party EDD specialists offering lower rates. With the firm's urban operations, it couldn't compete, he told O'Connell.

Commenters weren't kind:

"Shouldn't the Journal be analyzing some of these answers? If what he says in true, every big firm would be collapsing."  —dc

"Funny, I thought it was these big firms that hired the e-discovery consultants." —Utilto

"Having worked at this firm in the past, I find hard to believe they would dissolve as they are still considered a go to firm. The issue is the firm was run like a law firm versus like a corporation and it style of management caught up with them. They have a practice support division that operates like a profit center with expensive fees that can found at much lower rates by 3rd party vendors. Corporations are demanding reasonable fees that is comparable with other firms in the practice type." — Paul W.

"Maybe CEO Ruyak can apply for a job as Charlie Sheen’s intern." — Anonymous

"Must have hired former Heller Erhman partners to run this one into the ground too." — Ex H.E.

Photo: Diego Radzinschi/Legal Times




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