Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Ignominious Demise of the Unfinished Business Doctrine

The Ignominious Demise of the Unfinished Business Doctrine

      In a decision rendered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dated June 15, 2020, the various lawsuits filed in connection with the collapse of the Howrey LLP law firm against the firms to which various of its attorneys had transferred then existing matters, was brought to an end by the reversal of the bankruptcy court’s order denying dismissal. This ultimate resolution was granted on the basis of the decision of the District of Columbia Court, Diamond v. Hogan Lovells US LLP (Howrey II), 224 F.3d 1007 (D.C. 2020) holding ultimately that the Unfinished Business/Jewel Doctrine is inapplicable in the case of work being performed on an hourly basis.

      This most recent decision is Hogan Lovells US LLP v. Howrey LLP, Case No. 14-CV-04882-JT (N.D. Ca. June 15, 2020). As of yet, this decision is not been posted on Westlaw.

      Still, I remain of the view that the string of cases rejecting the Unfinished Business/Jewel Doctrine in the case of hourly matters have been wrongly decided by the application of a patina of legal ethics to what is a question of business organization and particularly partnership law.

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