John Quinn is an Arrogant Jerk

There are a few John Quinns in the top echelons of the nation’s law practice and the only one who is a big jerk is Quinn Emanuel’s lifeforce. He proved this yesterday by deferring THIS YEAR’s associates to January. Right. The ones studying for the bar right now, who were due to start in a minute or two. No compensation, no nothing. Just seeya … later.

He told “We undoubtedly should have done it sooner.”

Got that right, big guy. And it’s not like you didn’t see this coming. You laid off a handful of associates in March in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.

Most tellingly, last October, you wrote a state of the firm memo disclosing that 9 of the firm’s 10 biggest matters had settled.

From: John Quinn
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2008 2:10 PM
To: Attorneys
Subject: things are slow right now

more so in some offices than others. lawyers are funny. in april, may and june we averaged over 200 hours per attorney–an unbelieveable, perhaps unparalleled work pace for a firm as large as ours. many wondered how we could possibly keep that up. now we’re averaging 150 plus per month and people are worried. so one point to be made here is that “slowness” is relative.

the pace is down significantly because of the coincidence that a number of major matters, on which scores of attys were working full time, went away–trial ended, the case settled, etc–at the same time. it is an amazing fact that of the 10 largest billing matters in 2008 thru the end of sept, 9 have finished or nearly so. these are the kinds of cases that you do not replace immediately.

this really shouldn’t be a cause for concern tho. our basic practice strategy–focusing on high end ip and financial litigation, trial work, being able to be adverse to financial institutions, etc–is clearly sound. in fact, in this business environment, we’re better situated than any firm i know. there will be lots of claims to be brought arising out of the financial mess and they will require firms that can be adverse to banks. we are at the top of that list. and we do not have a corporate dept with deal lawyers with nothing to do. many law firms will suffer. i don’t think we will.

it is to be expected that it would take some time to spool up again after so many large matters went away. there is no cause for nail biting tho.

there are lots of business development things and nonbillable things to be done. we expect that everyone will pitch in on such projects when asked to do so.

John B. Quinn
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP

Despite knowing that “lawyers are funny” and “slowness is relative”, Quinn went ahead and paid its 78 equity partners a mind-boggling $3.3 million, on average, in January, an 11 percent increase. The 400-attorney firm boasted revenue of $441.9 million for 2008, a 15 percent increase from the $384.5 million they generated in 2007. The partner level grandeur prompted some Quinn associates to call their partners “cheap bastards” and asked them to “share the fucking wealth.”

Quinn Emanuel has been a huge success as an enterprise, but Quinn’s arrogance has always lurked. He’s a great trial lawyer, no question. But there are signs of trouble. Stay tuned…..


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