Bracewell & Patterson—make that Bracewell & Giulianiannounced that
Rudy Giuliani, who really needs no introduction, is joining the
firm to start a New York office for the 60-year-old Houston-based
firm (400 lawyers, #121 on the most recent AmLaw 200 with $156-million
in 2003 revenue).  Newsworthy, to be sure, and most of the
coverage has centered on what this does or doesn’t mean for Giuliani’s
political ambitions (can you run for Senator and run a serious
New York City law practice at the same time?).  "Adam
Smith, Esq." is of course devoutly apolitical, so the question
here is:  Can he pull it off?  That is, can Bracewell
& Giuliani go from zero in New York to
"well north of 100 lawyers and
arguably the most important office in the firm,” according to
the vision of managing partner Patrick Oxford.

First, let’s give B&G credit for facing reality about how the
legal landscape is shaping up:

At the moment, the firm has offices in several Texas cities, as well as Washington, D.C., and London.
“We don’t think there is going to be such a thing as a Texas firm,” Oxford said. “You have to be able to represent your clients in the financial centers in New York and London.”

Arguing against their ability to pull it off is simply that
this is New York, probably the most competitive market for legal
talent in the world, with the possible exception of London. As
one recruiter assessing B&G’s move—who’s a big fan of Giuliani—says,
New York "has been pretty well picked over."

On the other hand, their ambitions appear focused and astute:  Not
to become the equivalent of a "bulge bracket" corporate-deal
player, but to specialize in
"white-collar litigation, business ethics and
corporate investigations."  In those areas, as an alum
of both the Southern District of New York and the Justice Department,
Rudy has a gold-plated Rolodex, and if anyone can pull it off
he’s probably the guy.  This story falls squarely in the
"stay tuned" basket.  Give B&G credit for:

  • facing reality; and
  • taking a nicely calculated gamble on dealing with it.

And if all else fails, B&G is deeply connected to the Republican
Party, featuring both President Bush and Tom DeLay as clients,
and with a former Republican National Committee chairman as a
partner.  Maybe
Rudy can have his law practice and his politics after all.

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