Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison |

Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison


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First the bad news. Brobeck saw its profits per equity partner plunge 44 percent in 2001. The firm cracked the $1 million threshold in profits per partner in 2000 with $1.17 million, but this figure dwindled to $660,000 last year. Likewise, gross revenue also decreased from $476 million in 2000 to $447 million last year. Early this year, the firm announced layoffs of 54 associates and 85 staff members. This comes on top of the voluntary leave offer accepted by 82 associates in the last quarter of 2001. The impact of these actions mostly landed on the firm's business and technology group.
Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison

The firm also froze associate salaries in 2002, meaning that salaries will not increase to the next lock-step salary level, causing first-year and second-year associates to earn the same $135,000 salary. But this was not the end. Some partners were demoted to senior counsel or to fixed-income status this year. These layoffs and voluntary leave came about after months of internal debate, which eventually led the hard-charging former Brobeck Chairman Tower Snow Jr. to give up his post early.

If one is looking at the bottom line only, Brobeck grew exponentially during the last few years as rosy projections rampant in Silicon Valley during the Dot Com era deluded the firm into thinking the growth in the technology sector would never end. It is astonishing to look back and realize that Brobeck added in excess of 200 attorneys to its business and technology group in 1999 and 2000, and in excess of 300 lawyers total in 2000.

Misery loves company. It has yet to be seen whether these layoffs will have any detrimental impact on recruiting in the future. Because layoffs have been commonplace for blue chip law firms in Silicon Valley, there is unlikely to be a significant negative effect on Brobeck as a result of its layoffs. It is instructive to note that the following blue chip Bay Area firms also have announced layoffs: Cooley Godward; Fenwick & West; Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian; Pillsbury Winthrop; Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich; Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May; Skjerven Morrill MacPherson; and Venture Law Group. Even though Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati never announced layoffs, it has more than 100 fewer lawyers now than it did in 2000.

Has the turn around begun? It is not all doom and gloom. In fact, Brobeck may be positioned for growth, both in revenue and body count, in the future. Brobeck Chairman Richard Odom and Managing Partner Richard Parker seem intent on reigning in the substantial cost structure built during the last few years. In 2001, Brobeck had just 2 company-side public offerings, down from about 17 in 2000. So far, we note that Brobeck has completed 2 public offerings in 2002, with additional IPOs on the way.

Recently, the stock market has rallied with a vengeance amid signs that the economy is recovering more quickly and strongly than investors had expected. The effects on the stock market of the September 11 terrorist attacks seem to have been forgotten for now, and the news on the economic front has been dominated by either the Enron debacle or the strong economic data. It seems that the optimists have the upper hand at the moment. This bodes well for law firms, particularly for firms like Brobeck. In fact, the criticism of Brobeck has been that it has, and continues to have, more attorneys engaged in doing emerging company work than other firms. However, the firm has shuffled some of its remaining associates to help the busier practice areas. In addition, note that the leader of the firm, Odom, is a litigator. This implies that Brobeck will avoid its past mistake of relying too heavily on one sector of the legal practice. There is no doubt that those firms that have a strong litigation practice group are vying better than firms like Brobeck. Odom and his partners have most likely taken notice.

In any event, if the reported economy recovery is true, and the capital markets loosen their tight hold on purse strings, the structuring Brobeck undertook shedding its excess fat has positioned it to enjoy success again. Even though the irrational exuberance days of 1999 and 2000 are most likely gone forever, Brobeck will return to healthy and vibrant profits and growth.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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