June 29, 2024

Retiring this blog

       I'm going to go ahead and do something I've been wanting to do for a while, retire this blog. So this will be the last entry. If you would like more such reading material, please see the syllabus of a new course being taught at Duke Law School. 

       If anyone would like to take over ownership of the blog, please contact me at admin@omelvenymyersethics.org. If you are the right venue to archive its content, I can transfer it to you for free. The blog was actually originally retired in July of 2022, but when communicating via a blog, as opposed to say a book, you can add to it. So I unretired it when an associate sued O'Melveny, or to add the pictures of O'Melveny's partner meetings; seemed like those had to be included in a resource teaching you about the firm. However, I would like to definitively end it (without erasing it, as some work went into it and I would like to maintain it somewhere for those seeking information on O'Melveny or the legal industry in general.) So I'm trying to figure out how to archive it, perhaps by transferring ownership to another entity who can publish it as part of their library, or maybe by converting it into a book, hence the offer above. Please contact me if you are interested.

       Before I go, I should add that the firm is not that bad. I'd especially like to apologize to Ted McAniff for writing about him here, and the last thing I said to him. He was uncommonly generous for helping me at the beginning of my legal career, as best as he could. When the turbulence started in May of 2015, I actually spent hours digging into his past and it was spotless, and filled with signs of an outstanding character. For example, he was part of a racial equity movement back in the sixties, and he somehow made Captain in the Naval Reserve despite working full time as a partner, which is an astonishing feat. In closing, If you are an attorney or client considering O'Melveny, it may be the best choice for you. Put everything in this blog in context.





June 15, 2024

Introduction and summary

       Welcome and thank you for visiting. I am an attorney who used to work at O'Melveny & Myers. I was so surprised by what I saw there that I took on the role of amateur journalist and started this website. It's one of those acts that takes little time, but might do some good by shining a light. Below is a summary, which I hope you find informative.

They like to silence people

       According to the New York Times, an O'Melveny attorney used violent imagery to threaten a sexual abuse victim into silence, as her assailant watched. This led to an additional decade of sexual abuse by the assailant, and the attorney became a go-to hire for rich men accused of sexual assault. The above may have influenced the attorney's own son, who was arrested for violating a domestic violence restraining order. Later, Mother Jones revealed that this same attorney chose not to stop a client's racist comments about a judge. The aforementioned attorney is chair of O'Melveny's Trial Practice Committee and vice chair of the firm. 

       Threatening people into silence seems to be part of an O'Melveny lawyer's toolset. For example, the inspector general chided an O'Melveny alumnus for threatening scientists in a way that had "life and death consequences."

       In fact, O'Melveny was at the forefront of the document used to silence victims -- the mandatory arbitration and nondisclosure agreement. Although three federal courts told O'Melveny that its document was "unconscionable" (cases one, two and three) -- O’Melveny continued to force its employees to sign it until 2018, when law students pressured all law firms to abandon this practice.

       They will even contrive claims to intimidate people into silence. For example, after I published this website, they accused me of the federal crime of stealing confidential information – without any digital evidence that I even accessed the data they accused me of taking. When I reminded them that they won't have much of a case without evidence, they threatened me with a defamation lawsuit. But when I asked them to identify a specific defamatory statement so that I could retract it, they refused to do so. And that's not the first time they attacked an employee who talked about their problematic practices. According to this article, they even launched a "witch hunt" to find an employee who complained anonymously.

The quality of O'Melveny's legal work

       O'Melveny's legal services might not always be of the highest quality. For example, per ABC News's Sacramento affiliate, O'Melveny's lacking advice embarrassed the governor's office and cost California wildfire victims billions of dollars; a judge devoted a paragraph of his opinion to criticizing O'Melveny's lack of professionalism; a letter O'Melveny wrote on behalf of a client was so "absurd" that it caught the attention of reporters; and they couldn't even handle a child sexual abuse matter without being accused of serious improprieties. These items made it into the news during the period that I wrote this blog, but this has been going on for decades. For example, the city of Los Angeles sued them for malpractice back in 1999.

       The firm also has a history of conducting reportedly sham "independent investigations." For example, see this story in Corporate Counsel accusing O'Melveny partner Adam Karr of conducting a sham investigation of sexual abuse at Lionsgate. A saint of a woman returned over a million dollars to break her confidentiality agreement and reveal that information. Or see these stories about a woman who learned that her alleged sexual assaulter's personal lawyer (O'Melveny) had been hired to "independently investigate" whether he assaulted her (links one and two.) Or see this story in ESPN about a backlash that followed O'Melveny's suspicious independent investigation in the Portland Trailblazer organization. Or see this story about an O'Melveny alumnus who was arrested by the FBI, as he tried to negotiate his fee for an independent investigation.

Money

       The firm has a money-obsessed culture, which they called "eat what you kill." Its lawyers would constantly search the dockets for new cases, hoping that one of their clients got sued, and then rush to pitch for the work. Sometimes they might go further. For example, query whether they needlessly dragged out an alleged rape victim's case to maximize billable hours, and then bragged about the money they made off of her in a press release. Or query whether they were the only defense firm to drag out the Oklahoma opioid crisis case, damaging their client's reputation and likely resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths, to maximize billable hours. 

       Naturally, O'Melveny's partners are exceeding cheap. For example, they upset law students by cutting summer associate pay by about $10,000, and replacing it with a $10,000 loan from the partners. That financial maneuver boosted partner profits by about 0.24%. So a partner who would have made $2,000,000 in that year now made about $4,800 more, as a result of reducing summer associate pay by $10,000.

       Here is a picture of the firm ridiculing and caricaturing a partner who gave clients discounts, and here are pictures of O'Melveny partners celebrating money. For a numerical example of the feast or famine manner in which one O'Melveny group allocated profits among its partners, see this post. Here you will find an example of an O'Melveny partner's compensation package, and here is an example of a retired of counsel's compensation package.

They corrupt government

       Ingrained in O'Melveny's culture was the idea that a government job isn’t accepted to serve the voters, the public, or the country – it’s taken to serve yourself, and the people who pay you. For example, an O'Melveny attorney once shared their plan to "monetize" a government position. Or see these two posts about another O'Melveny attorney who used a government position for his own personal purposes. O'Melveny has also repeatedly tried to change case law to make it harder to prosecute public officials who engage in quid pro quo corruption (cases one, two and three.) It doesn't always work out though; one of O'Melveny's friends got arrested by the FBI for trying to use his government access to benefit a client.

       When serving in the Department of Justice, an O'Melveny practice group leader reportedly lied to a federal court on an important issue in the nation's history. Once caught in that lie by the discovery of documents, he gave a radio interview advocating for torture and criticizing the Geneva Convention.

Diversity

       O'Melveny claims to support diversity by following the Mansfield Rule in hiring, but their track record suggests otherwise. O'Melveny also hired two partners who were sued for discrimination, by a Latina single mother, at their prior firm. It also seems to follow the too-common practice of assigning minorities to cases where they have to fight someone of their own group.

       I also list the players in the lucrative "law firm diversity marketing" industry, how much each charges for their stamp of approval, and what their executives make per year. 

Pro bono

       O'Melveny claims to support pro bono work, but an attorney said they fired him because he spent too much time on pro bono matters. See also this post about its director of pro bono who, despite a career in legal aid and other pro bono efforts, lives in a $5 million house in Beverly Hills, which might lead to fair questions about how much money he took out of those ostensibly charitable endeavors.

Employee wellness

       The firm claims to support employee wellness, but its stinginess and environment may interfere with that goal. For example, according to this lawsuit, it provides employees with cheap medical insurance; and one of the firm's most widely publicized wellness efforts amounted to nothing more than a $13 per month Peloton plan. It's also sort of a difficult place to work. For example, an attorney made partner after derailing the careers of a half-dozen associates; and here are two other posts about the kinds of personalities that thrive there; really, every post on this blog is about the challenges of working there.

       In fact, it might not be the place to go for wellness. For example, see these messages by a woman who lost her health while working there, or this story about an O'Melveny attorney who suffered health problems to the point where she was rocking back and forth, whispering: "I have to quit O'Melveny." The firm's chief operating officer also shared a chilling story from his time at O'Melveny.

Marketing

       The firm seems to put a lot of effort into public relations. For example, around 2016, it started giving itself the highest scores in Vault's self-graded rankings, so as to rise to the top of those rankings, after which it issued press releases celebrating that victory. Of course, you can't fool all of the people all of the time, and so that effort led to complaints from law students who felt misled by what they thought was an undeservedly high score. Then another firm decided to copy O'Melveny's gamesmanship, and started giving itself the highest scores too. That firm rose from a low position in the rankings to the number one spot in all of them, even ahead of O'Melveny, in only one year. 

       As a result of all this manipulation, the Vault rankings no longer meant anything. A few months after the second firm's chicanery, Vault changed its name to "Firsthand" and, based on the timing, I wonder if they did that to try and reboot their rankings' lost reputation.

       O'Melveny also tries to manipulate journalists into advertising for the firm. Here is their manager of public relations explaining how to do this on the show, "Law firm marketing catalyst." Some of the resulting articles are provably false. The firm was even lambasted in the press for trying to remove truthful information from Wikipedia, of all things.

Other random posts about O'Melveny

       The firm gives favorable treatment to some associates, especially those from prominent families. A highly respected partner joined O'Melveny with great fanfare, only to leave two months later and return to his old firm. O'Melveny tried and failed to merge with the giant multi-national firm of Allen & Overy and then, four years later, they ridiculed Allen & Overy at a partner meeting. The firm worked on two cases against alleged Chinese torture victims. And here is a post is about O'Melveny's human resources and career development personnel.

Not the first time

       If you think this website is unusual, please note that I'm not the first person to do this. The late Judge Stephen Reinhardt expressed his public disgust with things he saw at O'Melveny back in the 1980s. A legal recruiter, whose livelihood depends on ingratiating himself to law firms, publicly shared a shocking story from O'Melveny. An O'Melveny attorney used twitter to talk about everything they lost while working there. And there's more that I haven't said, because I do not have hard evidence and don't want to be caught in a "he said, she said" defamation case (see the first section above), or because the person who shared the information asked me not to post it here. I'm largely restricted to writing about things that made it into the news, which may be the tip of the iceberg.

The legal profession in general

       Not all of the posts are about O'Melveny; some are about law in general. A few posts compare law to other professions. For example, this post explains how to "think like a lawyer," and contrasts that with approaches used by other fields. This post is about my exchange with Penn Law professor Amy Wax, after which I imagine a world where she taught tech instead of a law. This post is about the award-winning movie I Care a Lot, and how sometimes the justice system creates or prolongs injustice, until a reporter exposes and fixes the problem. 

       This post adds to the long list of articles about regulatory capture, and chronicles the careers of a handful of bank regulatory lawyers who spun the revolving door to riches. It also recalls how lawyers have been history's worst Federal Reserve chairs. Here, you'll find the story of a lawyer who tried to fight regulatory capture, and the consequences he faced.

       I spend a few posts on torture, for example this post is about Bank of America's former General Counsel David Leitch, who told me that I would never work for his organization because I criticized his friend on torture, and these two posts are about my experiences with the aforementioned friend and other related parties, such as former Fifth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig.

       I also spend some time on the opioid crisis. This post is about the best-selling book Dopesick, which recounts how captured regulators, lobbyists and lawyers put their financial interests above their country to start and perpetuate the epidemic, which has killed half a million Americans so far. It also contrasts the United States' pliable regulators and lawyers with those of Europe, who rejected efforts to expand the use of opioids, saving their continent from the same fate. This post summarizes articles accusing former Attorney General Eric Holder of covering up the opioid crisis back in 2004, when it would have been easier to stop. And this post compares the crisis to the opium epidemic that ended China's High Qing golden age and started the worst century in its history, although hopefully the United States can recover with less damage.  

       Finally, this post is about how unpleasant it was to write this blog, which is why I eventually retired it
Brad Butwin, Dan Petrocelli, Brian Boyle, Adam Karr, omm, omelveny, Brandon Jacobsen



Addendum

       I've gotten other tips, but I won't do a full write-up because I don't want to keep wading into this. Hopefully seventy posts are enough. However, below are the links. I do not intend to keep adding tips below so please don't view this as a running list.
  • Prosecutors abandoned a case against three music collectors after Eagles singer Don Henley (who filed the charges) admitted to misleading the court by withholding key documents. O'Melveny's Dan Petrocelli said this outcome was "unjust" because Mr. Henley shouldn't have been asked for those documents. There's a post here juxtaposing the three meek collectors with stories from Mr. Henley's past, and perhaps O'Melveny's, but again that's for someone else to write. 
  • After O'Melveny and its client Trader Joe's filed what many thought was a frivolous trademark suit against its employee union -- the judge called it "an attempt to weaponize the legal system to gain advantage in an ongoing labor dispute" and came "dangerously close to the line of Rule 11" sanctions. The union's attorney said O'Melveny "should be ashamed of what they did." (Good luck with that expectation. I guess he didn't read this blog.) 



They had to eat at Outback, and Chili's

       In the last post, I talked about pictures of O'Melveny's partners celebrating the fact that they denied compensation to victims of the opioid crisis. Let's get into that set.

O'Melveny profits per partner

       It starts with a slide about how the Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out a $465 million judgment opioid victims had won. (O'Melveny was overwhelmed by evidence and so lost at trial. But its appeals brief and industry groups threatened economic boycotts if Oklahoma didn't limit its nuisance statute. Perhaps scared of these threats, the state's supreme court changed the law, holding that "nuisance law does not extend to the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of prescription opioids," and thus voided the lower court ruling. You can read my coverage of that trial in these links: one, two, three, four and five.) The set ends with a slide of O'Melveny's opioid lawyers and the headline, "You Deserve This!" In-between there are ten pictures of the presenters singing and dancing.

       I wish I knew the lyrics, but perhaps we can infer part of the message from the slides. One slide shows seven months crossed out, presumably the time spent at one of the trials, and another shows a sad person dining at Outback and Chili's. Putting all that together, the song might be about "deserv[ing]" to win because one struggled for it, which is a classic story archetype.

       One thing I never understood about law was the obsession with fancy restaurants. Most food is delicious and the only hardship is not over-eating. So I don't know why lawyers fetishize high-end food, which sometimes isn't as satisfying as McDonald's. I'll eat anywhere. Put it in front of me and I'll eat it, and enjoy it.

       But no, lawyers at big firms aren't eating fast food. You know, I guess for them it's not really about the food, it's about affirming their status and place in society. They're better than you, so they don't eat where you eat; they eat at fancy places. And when recounting the challenges of a long trial, they would include a slide about having to slum it at casual dining chains.

       Did opioids devastate your community, your family, you? Well, O'Melveny's lawyers had to eat at Outback, and Chili's. While their peers felt "fabulous," at "sceney" hot spots with an "American Psycho vibe," "seated next to Keanu Reeves" -- O'Melveny's lawyers had to spend months eating at a place with $16.99 three course meals, seated next to these people! The struggle is real. . . .

       To complete the story, O'Melveny's client did eventually pay billions of dollars to resolve most of the litigation, as part of a series of settlements worth over $50 billion. Glad that worked out as well as it could. Below are the aforementioned pictures, along with additional pictures from the partner meetings about money.

O'Melveny profits per partner, OMM, compensation, salary, income, wages 
O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

Catalina Vergara O'Melveny

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner

O'Melveny profits per partner


March 31, 2024

O'Melveny partners gettin' down

       Here are pictures from O'Melveny's wild offsite partner meetings for the years 2015, 2016-1, 2016-22017, 2018-1, 2018-2, 2019, and 2022. Lots of singing and dancing; they really know how to cut a rug.

        If you scroll through 2022's pics, you'll see them celebrating that they were the only firm to not settle the Oklahoma opioid litigation, denying victims compensation. 

       You'll also see O'Melveny ridiculing former Allen & Overy head Wim Dejonghe, making it seem like they rejected him when their merger collapsed. They also criticize British beer and say their new address will be "No Movery Drive, Washington DC, 00000" (a play on "Overy.") 

       According to reports, the merger collapsed back in 2019 because O'Melveny demanded too much money, so I'm not sure why they're mocking him in 2022. Maybe he came back and asked to merge again? If so, this seems like a tasteless way to treat such an overture -- to make a whole presentation at your partner meeting mocking the guy? Any way, a year after these pictures were taken Allen & Overy merged with Shearman & Sterling, a more suitable partner. Sometimes things work out for the best.

catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny

catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny

catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny


catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny

catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny

       Incidentally, the woman leading each year's performance is Catalina Vergara, the one who seemed to make it her mission to punish me after I naively wrote a memo to the firm -- about how our boss Brian Boyle had lied to a federal court, advocated for torture and criticized the Geneva Convention. The blond woman performing some years is Danielle Morris, who made partner after seemingly derailing the careers of about half a dozen associates. The guy dancing in white tights in 2016 is George Demos, discussed here. The redbone woman singing each year is Sabrina Strong, discussed here.

       Even the other singer at these events, Marc Feinstein ... I just searched "Marc Feinstein O'Melveny" and there's a tweet accusing him of something, and his name pops up in this case accusing O'Melveny of bill padding. (I only met Marc once, and his first response after hellos was to make me run down my qualifications to show him why I'm worthy of practicing there.)

       If you factor in lateral hires, promotions and attrition, O'Melveny had well over 200 partners during the years I wrote this blog, maybe 250. Offhand, ten(?) at the most fifteen of them had anything worth discussing here. As a student of correlations, it's interesting that the tiny minority of partners discussed in this blog turned out to be so correlated with the partners who took to the stage at partner offsites. Maybe a certain type of person seeks the limelight at these events.

sabrina strong o'melveny

george demos o'melveny

sabrina strong george demos o'melveny

catalina vergara and danielle morris o'melveny

jonathan hacker o'melveny


       [Addendum: There was another picture at the partner meetings, below, of the aforementioned Brian Boyle. I was thinking of turning this into a full post but I'll add it as an addendum to save me a few hours. In the picture, O'Melveny mocks Mr. Boyle as "Boyle the mohel" for giving clients discounts. Imagine how na├»ve I was to think O'Melveny would care about the fact that he lied to a federal court, advocated for torture and criticized the Geneva Convention, when all they really cared about was that he was reducing revenue. Hopefully you're more informed after reading this blog.

brian boyle o'melveny

       By the way, it appears the photographer removed the websites linked in the first paragraph. To be clear, these were public pictures, see e.g. these screen caps of a google search I just did; it takes google a few days to remove formerly public websites from its results page. It's a shame you can no longer see the full set as Mr. Rovner is good at capturing the vibe.]

brad butwin o'melveny


August 19, 2023

O'Melveny's chief operating officer almost killed himself

       Following up on the prior post about not expecting sympathy from O'Melveny's partners, because they have their own problems . . . the firm's chief operating officer ("COO") recently gave an interview. In the interview, he talked about how he almost killed himself due to a mix of personal issues and the stress of working at O'Melveny. 

       I was wondering if I should add this, but I'm going to because he publicly disclosed it himself, and it's another piece of the puzzle of why O'Melveny is the way it is. As COO, he supervised many of the dirty dealings you see in this blog. Knowing this about his past might explain why he wasn't bothered by those events.  

       Would he care, for example, that an associate was abruptly fired despite meeting his hours requirement? To your average person, that sounds terrible. Why would you fire someone who has done their job, and do so without any warning? Who treats employees that way? But Mr. Demos might respond to such queries with, "So what? That's nothing compared to what I went through." 

       Would he care about being deceptive, for example when he touts the firm's wellness efforts despite the fact that O'Melveny provides a cheap medical plan that pays Medicare rates? Probably not. In the interview he said he "give[s] [him]self grace" (permission to do the wrong thing) as part of his mental health routine. And these are two of the more minor stories on this blog. 

       Of course, not everyone responds to misfortune in this way. Some don't let their past impact their worldview. Some become even more sensitive to injustice, to try and prevent it from repeating. But based on the stories in this blog, Mr. Demos doesn't seem to be in those categories. He seems to be in the "well, that happened to me so why shouldn't misfortune befall others as well" category.
   
       And Mr. Demos didn't only impact associates. I remember a lunch in which a partner loudly complained about distributions for the entire time I was there. It was hard to ignore as he was using the voice I imagine he uses in combative cross examinations. I had never seen him that upset and animated. I want to be equivocal here as I don't know the details, the numbers, and he could have been wrong. But I do remember him complaining that he didn't receive something he thought he should have, trying to understand why, and blaming Mr. Demos. I vaguely recall him saying that another partner shared similar concerns. (Incidentally, both of the aforementioned partners left O'Melveny shortly thereafter.) The partner sitting with him, who seemed more connected to management, tried to reassure him by explaining the calculation. During that back and forth, the explaining partner added that the upset partner did not want to see what Mr. Demos could do if he really wanted to be unfair.

       As for the rest of Mr. Demos's interview . . . there was nothing of substance. Not a single new benefit, new employee right, or anything of value. His main goal seemed to be to network with in-house counsel. I wouldn't be surprised if one of his motivations was to drum up work. At the end of the interview he gave out his email address and asked people to contact him to discuss the topic further. It would be interesting to see who did, and whether he filtered respondents into categories like "possible revenue" and "no benefit to knowing this person" for his follow-ups.

       Anyway, there's another clue in trying to understand why this firm is the way it is. And again, please be careful about expecting sympathy or empathy from these folks; as you can see, it's not all rosy in their world. 
George Demos, O'Melveny benefits, O'Melveny culture



May 6, 2023

Artifice and the failure of First Republic Bank

       A recent bank failure shows the importance of candor in the securities markets. Please let me start by providing a timeline.
  • On March 10, Silicon Valley Bank failed after customers rushed to withdraw their money, causing its deposits to fall to an unsustainably low level.
  • On March 12, Signature Bank failed for the same reason.
  • As a result, investors became concerned about the deposits at other banks, including (a) Western Alliance Bancorporation, whose stock price fell by 63% between March 8 and March 13, (b) PacWest Bancorp, whose stock also fell 63% between those two dates, and (c) First Republic Bank, whose stock fell 73% between those two dates.
  • To assuage concerns, First Republic Bank issued a statement on March 16 titled, "Reinforcing Confidence in First Republic Bank." It said the bank would receive $30 billion of deposits from a coalition of eleven large banks committed to preserving confidence in the banking system. Notably, it did not reveal how much deposits they had lost, only that $30 billion of deposits had been added.
  • Based on a google search, its press releases, and its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, First Republic said nothing more on its deposit situation in the ensuing month.
  • On Monday April 24, First Republic was due to announce quarterly earnings in the afternoon. It would now have to disclose the amount of deposits it had lost. Presumably because the bank had said nothing for a month -- investors were optimistic and pushed the stock from $14.27 in the morning to $16.00 right before the earnings release, a 12% increase in one trading day.
  • The earnings release shocked investors. Analysts had expected on average $145 billion in deposits, but the bank only had $103 billion of deposits. And this was after the $30 billion injection from the large banks. In addition, deposits had fallen to $104.5 billion on March 31, so the bank was sitting on this information for almost a month. 
  • During the earnings call, the bank said "deposits ha[d] stabilized" and that it had plenty of liquidity. It also announced a three-part plan to "strengthen [its] business" for the future. But having lost trust in the bank's word, investors sold their positions. That night its stock fell by about 25%, and it just kept falling until the bank had to be taken over by the FDIC a few days later.
       One wonders what would have happened if the bank had adopted a more honest communication strategy, instead of painting an overly rosy picture until it was forced to reveal everything. What would have happened if, rather than only touting the $30 billion infusion -- it also disclosed how much it had lost via deposit outflows?  

       If the bank's messaging was more trustworthy, investors might possibly not have run for the doors in that final perilous week. If a company is honest with you, you can assess their plan and estimate a value for their stock. But if you can't trust what they say, that adds a layer of uncertainty that makes investing unworkable. (I should be clear that there were no outright lies in First Republic's releases; they were more like half-truths, i.e. they left out what some might consider relevant and important information.) 

       You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with O'Melveny & Myers. Well, it might have nothing to do with them, but a few days go, it was revealed that O'Melveny started advising the bank in March. Per Monday's Bloomberg Law article:

Following First Republic Bank’s issues back in March, a committee of the independent directors was convened and represented by O’Melveny & Myers, led by partners Daniel Petrocelli, Jarryd Anderson, Matthew Close, and Andor Terner.

       Of course that doesn't prove that O'Melveny had anything to do with the bank's disclosure decisions. Granted, public confidence was the sole determinant of whether the bank would survive, so a lawyer advising its directors might want to share a thought on that. And as you can see from the posts here, O'Melveny is not always the most trustworthy actor, so it might have had a hand in the bank's messaging. But I don't know what role O'Melveny played; maybe none; or who knows, maybe they tried to get First Republic to be more forthright and were turned down. Any comment on O'Melveny's role would be baseless speculation.

       I'll try to remember to check the regulatory reports to see if they reveal who devised the communication strategy. Regulators issued multiple reports on the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and they might issue one here as well. Whoever was responsible, it shows you how banks are the only type of business that can be celebrated one day, and impaired to the point that they have to be taken over by the government just a few days later.




March 31, 2023

Don't expect sympathy from O'Melveny's partners; they have their own problems

       According to the Wall Street Journal, law firms are conducting layoffs, some overt and some "stealth." So I guess now is a good time to do a post that's been shelved for a while. 

       One day at lunch, an O'Melveny partner shared a story about a ski trip she went on with her children. One of them had gotten into a bad accident, I think he hit something, after which he complained of dizziness. She said that she ignored his concerns and ordered him to get right back up the hill, prefacing it with something like, "you know me." 

       This woman worked on the firm's worst cases, ones where her job was to deny compensation for the most tragic and devastating of injuries. And associates complained about her, even to me, someone who had never worked in her group and had zero management authority. One said that after he turned in a brief, she would force him to sit there and watch her edit it line by line, even though he had other things he needed to get done that day. Another said that, during a trial where they stayed at a hotel and worked 80-100 hour weeks, this partner got upset when she saw attorneys taking a break around midnight at the hotel bar, and complained that they could be working on documents. 

       Based on all this, I assumed she was just a tough person and consistent about it. No concern for the injured people she faced, the associates working for her, or her child's possible concussion. Maybe that was part of it, but later I learned that she was going through a divorce,1 and who knows what else. 

       So if you're a twenty-something associate with your life ahead of you -- please be careful about expecting sympathy or empathy from O'Melveny's partners. They may not be the happy, affable and generous people you imagined. Rather, they might be dealing with things worse than any of your concerns.
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Like the other two divorce posts, I won't share the documents without O'Melveny's permission (although again these are public documents that anyone can download from the court's website.) But since people joining O'Melveny seem interested in money, see below for that snippet from the divorce judgment. The rest of the documents reveal the standard stuff; e.g. that she had to pay her ex alimony and child support due to her high income. 




February 28, 2023

O'Melveny allegedly tricked a surgical center into accepting its cheap medical insurance

       Before performing surgery on an O'Melveny employee, a prestigious Beverly Hills surgical center called the firm to confirm that its plan would pay their rate. O'Melveny allegedly responded that it would, and so the doctors took their word for it and operated the next day.

       Then after the operation was complete, O'Melveny said its plan would only pay about 10% of the $200,000 bill. The center expected to be paid based on the promise. After waiting a few years, they assigned the bill to their debt collector who filed suit. O'Melveny has responded by removing the case to federal court, seemingly to try and avoid payment via an ERISA technicality. It did not hire a firm to defend the lawsuit; it's using its own internal attorneys: staff attorney James Kidder and partner Catalina Vergara.

       As I understand, unless it's an emergency, when a patient's insurance won't pay for a doctor's services, the patient simply goes to another provider. This happens all the time in the United States, which has tiers of medical providers, each with a commensurate cost. If you have really cheap insurance, many doctors will not accept you as a patient. And this doesn't seem to have been an emergency as, according to the complaint, the surgery was performed a day after the center spoke with O'Melveny. 

       I can't imagine the center would make all this up so, assuming they're telling the truth . . . O'Melveny doesn't seem to provide employees with good medical insurance. Excerpt from the complaint below:
27. On February 27, 2020, Medical Provider conducted surgery and provided services on and for patient for the benefit of Patient and DEFENDANT.

28. On February 26, 2020, Medical Provider’s representative Y.P. spoke with Defendant’s representative Shelly.

29. Defendant represented to Medical Provider that Patient’s deductible is and was $5,000.00 and that the deductible had been met and Patient’s Max Out of Pocket (“MOOP”)expense is and was $7,000.00 and that to date for the calendar year Patient had paid $257.73.

30. Defendant represented to Medical Provider that Medical Provider would be paid for medical services at one hundred (100) percent of the UCR amount.

31. DEFENDANT further represented that payment would not be made at a rate based on Medicare.

32. All of the information obtained in said conversation was documented by Medical Provider at the time of the phone conversation as part of Medical Provider’s policy and practice.

33. At no time prior to the provision of services to Patient by Medical Provider, during conversations between Medical Provider and DEFENDANT did DEFENDANT advise Medical Provider that Patient’s policy or certificate of insurance was subject to certain exclusions, limitations, or qualifications, which might result in denial of coverage, limitation of payment or any other method of payment unrelated to the UCR rate.

34. DEFENDANT did not make reference to any other portion of Patient’s plan that would put Medical Provider on notice of any reduction in the originally stated payment percentage.

35. Despite representing that payment would be made at the UCR rate, DEFENDANT knew or should have known that it would not be paying Medical Provider at the UCR rate.

36. Despite representing that payment would not be made at a Medicare rate, DEFENDANT knew or should have known that it would be paying Medical Provider at a Medicare rate.

37. Medical Provider relied and provided services solely based on DEFENDANT’s statements, promises and representations. Statements which had no relation to DEFENDANT and Patient’s plan document, as the statements may or may not have been based in the DEFENDANT or Patient’s plan documents, but that bore no consideration when Medical Provider agreed to provide medical services. Medical Provider took DEFENDANT at its word and promises and provided services based solely on those promises and representations. . . . 

40. Under either scenario, following the procedure, Medical Provider submitted to DEFENDANT any and all billing information required by DEFENDANT, including a total bill for $200,009.00.

41. DEFENDANT paid $21,573.14 to Medical Provider. The amount paid was well below the billed amount and well below a UCR amount.

42. As of the date of this complaint, DEFENDANT has still refused to make the appropriate payment to Medical Provider and Medical Provider was and now HAMOC is entitled to that payment from DEFENDANT.
O'Melveny health plan, O'Melveny medical plan, O'Melveny wellness,  healthcare,  OMM benefits


February 11, 2023

What an of counsel makes at O'Melveny

       In a prior post, I described an of counsel who had berated me because he mistakenly thought I was trying to take work that he could be doing. You'll see dozens of these of counsels at O'Melveny, almost all retired partners, and I remember associates wondering why they still came in. Well, a divorce filing might answer that question, so I should probably add it to this site to inform readers.

       As stated in the court's opinion, the divorcee began working at O'Melveny in the 1980s, became a partner in the early 1990s, retired a few years ago, and is now an of counsel at the firm. Based on the filings, he made between $1 million and $2 million per year in his later years as a partner.

       Jumping to the numbers, his income and expense declaration states that in 2021 he received:
  • $375 per hour for about eight hours of work per week at O'Melveny. This would be about 8 x $375 x 52 = $156,000 per year.
  • About $15,500 per month from the O'Melveny & Myers Partnership Agreement Retirement Benefit defined benefit pension plan. (A portion of this goes to his ex-wife, and they are currently litigating over that amount. The legal issue is how the "time rule" should be used to split payments from this particular pension plan. What's amusing is that this dispute over a grand or so per month could wind up affecting other retired and divorced O'Melveny partners. I assume the plan's fiduciary will inform similarly situated retirees of the case.) Any way, this would be about $15,500 x 12 or $186,000 per year.
  • A distribution of $93,000 from the O'Melveny & Myers Partnership Deferred Compensation Plan. His ex-wife also received $93,000 from that plan, so if not for the divorce he would have received the sum of those two, or about $186,000 in 2021. 
  • About $21,000 of "CEI Distribution" and "Tax Distro."
       Add the four above and you get $549,000 of income in 2021, of which $156,000 came from the eight hours per week that he worked, and $393,000 came from the firm's retirement plans. So there you have it. If you were wondering why so many retired of counsels continue to come into the office, it's to receive the part-time income described above, and possibly other income from their own clients unrelated to O'Melveny.

       As with the last post, I won't publish the full document without O'Melveny's permission, although again this is all publicly available information that anyone can download from the court's website. The snippets below have the key numbers. 





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