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The Demise of Howrey

 Ashish Nanda and Nicholas Semi Haas  
Product number:
HLS 12-29
27 pages
Product Type:
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July 25, 2012


Howrey had grown into a major law firm known for its leading antitrust practice as well as innovations in advertising, compensation, hiring, and document management. While the firm had experienced tremendous growth prior to the 2008 recession, Howrey’s dynamic managing partner Robert Ruyak struggled to maintain profits with a decreasing demand for legal services, even in litigation. Offering discounts and contingency payment plans, Howrey struggled to stay afloat until its eventual dissolution in 2011.

Learning Objective

The case encourages participants to consider the alternative paths Howrey, and managing partner Robert Ruyak, might have taken to avoid the dissolution of the firm. What could Howrey have done differently as clients demanded contingency payment plans and deep discounts? Should Ruyak have been more transparent about the financial difficulties the firm faced? Should he have consulted with a group of senior partners instead of relying on the counsel of outside consultants? Is a litigation focused firm at a disadvantage when it comes to leadership, as compared to a corporate practice? Participants will reflect on the leadership structure of Howrey while discussing issues related to crisis management.

Subjects Covered

Leadership, Crisis Management, Professional Services


Geographic: United States

Industry: Law Firm

Event Start Date: 1956

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