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Legal Business

Case study of a law firm failure… and its aftermath

The final demise of the British firm Halliwells, reported last week in the on-line edition of The Lawyer, is a good case study in the financial failure of a law firm.  The Lawyer summarized the factors that led to Halliwells' failure earlier this month.

The failure and breakup of Halliwells is instructive for law firms anywhere that substitute wishful thinking for attentive management of operating costs and deepening debt.  From what I have read about the final days of Halliwells, they seem to me to have been about as orderly as the evacuation of the Titanic, with reports that more than 30 support staff were handed no-notice dismissals, apparently without any redundancy compensation or accrued vacation pay, at the end of the work day at a meeting that not one partner had the courage to attend.  (To be fair and tell the whole story, more than 460 staff found employment in one of the firms that acquired the surviving pieces of the Halliwells practice.)

A new post this morning in The Lawyer provides a glimpse of the "afterlife" for the parts of Halliwells that were acquired by other firms, who have created "firewalls" in the form of separate LLPs to protect the acquiring firms from the liabilities of the former Halliwells partners, as well as to enable a more reasoned pace of integrating the new partners into their firms.

Read more at the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.