Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick loses 1/3 of its attorneys

This is sad news. HLGR’s noted big-tobacco litigator Sharon Rudnick was a gift to the UO faculty union – her bargaining stunts must have increased membership by 10%:

And I’m guessing few of UO’s GTF’s will soon forget negotiating sick-leave policies with HLGR’s zoning law expert Jeff Matthews.

How did HLGR end up with the bulk of UO’s legal business? I don’t know, but my speculation is that it had a lot to do with former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who famously used his 2009-10 retirement sabbatical to restart his legal career at HLGR (Audits Division report here) just before the Oregon Legislature passed SB 242, which removed responsibility for state universities legal matters from the Oregon DOJ and let UO contract out the work.

In 2011, in response to SB 242, UO GC Randy Geller put out an RFP for outside legal help. Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick responded with this proposal, which emphasized the fact that Frohnmayer was now working for them:

They got the job.

UO paid out as much as ~$1M in billable hours to HLGR in at least one year. Or that’s my guess, Geller had that information redacted from the annual financial transparency expenditure reports UO is required to file with the state. (And a few years later HLGR hired Geller as “of counsel”, after his curiously timed retirement from UO.)

Harrang pulled in another ~$1M in billable hours from state taxpayers over their defense of Mark Long – who had got mixed up in the original Kitzhaber / Cylvia Hayes scandal. The Oregonian’s Steve Duin has the story here:

In early 2010, Long was the interim director at the state’s Department of Energy. That’s when the agency asked the Seattle-based winner of a $200,000 federal stimulus contract to hand a $60,000 piece of the action to the Oregon company co-owned byCylvia Hayes, John Kitzhaber’s companion.

When then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked Kroger to investigate the arrangement, Long declined to be interviewed. Two other Energy employees, however, told Sean Riddell, the deputy AG leading the investigation, that Long called attention to Hayes’ relationship with Kitzhaber, who was poised to run for governor, and ordered one of them to “fix it.”

No one should be surprised that Long is sensitive to issues of power and influence.

He is the son of Stan Long, a long-time friend and associate of former AG Dave Frohnmayer, and a founding partner of the law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick.

Harrang Long is rather well-connected, especially when it comes to Oregon’s Department of Justice.

Not only is Frohnmayer in the fold, but the firm’s roster includes two former Solicitor Generals, Bill Gary and Jim Mountain, and Pete Shepherd, DOJ’s second-in-command from 2001-2009.

They know how Justice works. Or how it long has.

But it seems like the good times are fading for HLGR. I’ll go out on a limb and predict the UO administration will never, ever, ever again hire HLGR to do union bargaining. And UO is increasingly turning to other law firms for work such as counter-suing survivors of alleged basketball team gang rapes (Miller Nash) and IP disputes such as the one in the UO Ed School over DIBELS (Betts, Paterson & Mines).

And when HLGR notes that one of its specialties is expertise with public records law, then gets hired by the local school board to keep some records secret, and then, after billing $26K, mistakenly emails them all to a reporter from the local newspaper, well, I can see how that might cost them a client or two.

Then there’s the PERS case. Bill Gary and Sharon Rudnick took the lead on the brief, Gary argued it, and then they lost – after who knows how many lucrative billable hours.

So with bread-and-butter work like defending big-tobacco companies from litigious cancer victims dying out, and billable hours for UO and public agencies looking less and less reliable, it’s probably no surprise that HLGR has lost 1/3 of its attorneys over the past 5 years:

2010: 15 partners, 12 associates, 4 of counsel = 31

2015: 10 partners, 5 associates, 5 of counsel = 20

Recent losses include 2 of the “Best Lawyers in America”, whatever that means:

as well as

HLGR’s William F. Gary and Sharon Rudnick lose another big one

No I don’t meet another zip drive of public records. I mean the Oregon Supreme Court case on the 2013 PERS reforms. Laura Gunderson of the Oregonian has the details on today’s OSC ruling here:

The Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling on Thursday harkening back to a basic playground rule: If you make a promise, you can’t take it back.

In a decision that will affect every public agency budget in the state, the court ruled that it wasn’t fair to go back on promises the state made years ago to its workers. The ruling reverses two controversial changes lawmakers made to the Public Employees Retirement System two years ago.

In 2013, lawmakers aimed to stop what they saw as a drain on the state’s budget by reworking the contracts of 100,000 retirees. The change cut annual cost-of-living increases promised as part of the workers’ pension benefits.

That change, along with a few others, was set to save the state about $1 billion in the 2015-17 budget. Today’s ruling means a big hole has opened up that agencies and local governments across the state will have to fill. …

Gary and Rudnick argued that the reforms were legal. They lost – although presumably they succeeded bringing in a lot of billable hours for HLGR, paid for with taxpayer money. The winning side was represented by longtime labor lawyer Greg Hartman, among others. Full decision here:

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