Monday, April 20, 2015

Business Conflicts: One More Thing... Are You Feeling Lucky?

Following last week's discussion of advanced waivers comes discussion of the impact of business conflicts, the other side of the coin, in our backyard here in Silicon Valley: "In Google-Apple Rivalry, a Conflict Not Easily Waived" --
  • "Client conflicts can scuttle a lateral move, as any recruiter can tell you. But some conflicts run so deep, and are spread so wide, they split the entire Silicon Valley legal marketplace in two."
  • "For law firms, that reality requires calculations about the value of the business in hand versus other business that might be precluded. And for would-be laterals who do work for either company, it means recognizing that it may be hard, if not impossible, to move to a firm in the other camp."
  • "Only a few firms have done work for both companies since 2009: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Greenberg Traurig; O'Melveny & Myers; and Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman have handled intellectual property matters for each. Fish & Richardson has handled multiple litigation matters for Google, and has also done patent prosecution for Apple."
  • "The line between "Apple firms" and "Google firms" can put roadblocks in the way of partner movement, and narrow the field of options for would-be laterals. Recruiters tell stories of partners whose adversity to a big player boxed them out of just about every firm they were inclined to approach. In such cases, lawyers have little choice but to wait out the matter."
  • "Hiring a particular law firm can be tactical for large clients. By spreading work among elite law firms—and turning down conflict waivers—they limit the universe of firms their opponents can hire. Apple and Google have spread work to some 70 law firms since 2009, so lawyers need to step carefully."

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