Heller Ehrman appeared on the brink of dissolution Wednesday, with some partners already looking to move with what amounted to tacit approval from firm management.
In office meetings on Wednesday, partners were told that dissolution is one of several options facing the 119-year-old firm, a Heller partner said. As a result, management said it was understood that partners would begin talking to other firms, and several individuals and groups have already begun talks, sources said.
It was unclear what options besides dissolution remained, but the firm has not yet voted on a course of action. Given the announcements in Wednesday’s meetings, though, industry watchers say there are probably no significant alternatives left.
“If that is the truth, that’s the end of Heller Ehrman,” said Friedrich Blase, a consultant with Kerma Partners in New York. “These are good lawyers,” he added, “they’re going to find homes.” But the story may be more difficult for more-junior partners, associates and staff, given the state of the economy, recruiters said.