Firm Fires Managing Partner Via Note on Chair

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Ah, there's nothing like the close-knit camaraderie of a law-firm partnership.  We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (please consider said term to include sisters); for he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; and if voted out, he shall receive at least a Post-It to speed him on his way.

That's allegedly how Michael Hausfeld learned he had been booted from Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, of which he was not only a name partner but also the chairman.  According to reports this week, Hausfeld returned to his office from an off-site meeting to find a note on his chair telling him that the other partners had held their own meeting, and by the way, they had voted him out of the firm.  (It may not have been a Post-It, but on the other hand, I don't think the stationery really matters.)

"Pretty cold," said Hausfeld, who has been with the firm since 1971.

Entirely proper, replied his (former) partner Joe Sellers.  "It's hard to believe he viewed this as a shock," Sellers claimed.  "This was a proper way to give him notice under the partnership agreement."  Wow.  I sure would like to get a look at that partnership agreement:

XXVI(C)(1)(a) Notice of Expulsion

Should a partner be expelled from the Firm –

(i) a partner with more than three decades of service shall be entitled to receive notice of expulsion in the form of one (1) note, said note to be not less than three inches by five inches in size, hand-lettered, and constructed of good-quality paper not less than 24lb in weight, and to be placed in a reasonably visible position upon the chair allocated to said partner by the Firm;

(ii) a partner with more than one but less than three decades of service shall be notified by being told there is a partner meeting off-site, arriving at said meeting to find no one present, and returning to find said partner's office empty of all furniture;

(iii) a partner with less than one decade of service shall not be entitled to notice, but rather shall be bodily carried from the firm by large unidentified men as soon as said partner realizes he or she is no longer receiving compensation.

Sellers claimed they had also sent Hausfeld an e-mail, which seems even less personal.

Hausfeld reportedly is starting his own firm that he said he "expects to staff" with some number of Cohen Milstein lawyers, some of whom Sellers admitted had already resigned.  As of Nov. 13, the main page of Cohen Milstein's website no longer mentioned Hausfeld, but he had not yet been purged from the others.  The site also still contains this statement: "Despite our growth, we have always believed it is very important to maintain the same sense of camaraderie, loyalty, and dedication that we had as a small firm."  Possible new recruiting slogan: "Cohen Milstein: If You Get Fired, You'll Get a Note."

Link: Financial Post
Link: Drug and Device Law Blog
Link: Henry V (Wikipedia)