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Four firms in three years for 'definitely not cursed' antitrust attorney

Posted by: Laurence Simons 07/06/12

Marc Schildkraut is the man with his fingers crossed.

Cursed lawyer news now, as Marc Schildkraut packs his lunch (tuna sandwiches, ready salted crisps and a Kit Kat) and polishes his shoes ahead of his first day at his new firm, Cooley LLP. As MSNBC reports, the former assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTS) Bureau of Competition is one of the most successful and respected antitrust attorneys in the United States, and so is a notable coup for the Palo Alto-based firm. He is also totally cursed, though.

Well, (for legal reasons), not cursed, per se. But Schildkraut, alongside new Cooley LLP recruit Jacqueline Grise, had a poor run of form. He joins Cooley on the back of what we will soon look back on fondly and refer to as 'the Dewey disaster,' a firm he joined just days after former employer Howrey dissolved. Before that, Schildkraut looked sadly out of the window and thought of his happy place as San Francisco-based Heller Ehrman went under toward the end of 2008. Now at Cooley, Schildkraut has had security passes printed at four firms in three years, with 75 per cent of those companies now doomed to the ages.

"Jackie and I are excited about bringing our practice to Cooley," says Schildkraut, hailing the walls with blessed water and nailing lucky horseshoes above all the doors. "We look forward to working with Cooley's already highly-regarded antitrust team to serve clients involved in strategic transactions and that are targets of government investigations," he said. "Plus I really hope this one doesn't go just disastrously wrong again," he didn't add.

But as Washington-based legal recruiter Stephen Nelson notes, lawyers fleeing one sinking ship for what turns out to be another (and, in Schildkraut's case, yet another, in italics) is nothing new - and is symptomatic of the chaotic last days of a firm on the way under. "When Howrey imploded, these partners were getting calls not only from multiple recruiters representing different firms but directly from partners they know at interested firms," he told the Washingtonian. "The combination of a short time frame and the absence of a trusted adviser could lead to an overly hasty decision."

As we can all learn from the Schildkraut incident(s), rushing into a legal job search in the midst of an in-house implosion could just lead to a delayed and inevitable firm meltdown further down the road. When weighing up a switch, take your time, get the right advice and listen to trusted recruiters - and, if the worst comes to the worst and you get really strapped for cash, just challenge Marc Schildkraut to a high-stakes game of poker. He seems to have abominable luck.