Law Firm Exodus Leads to Bankruptcy Filing

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 31, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What came first, the Exodus or Chapter 11?

If this were a Bible story, Genesis Chapter 11 came first. That's the story of the Tower of Babel, when everybody scattered because they couldn't understand each other.

But behold, this is a story about a law firm that filed for Chapter 11 after the Lawyer Exodus. It's a story about attorneys scattering because they saw the handwriting on the wall.

Lawyer Exodus

Things started to fall apart in 2016, when 20 lawyers left Archer Norris in Newport Beach. It continued the next year with 10 partners taking flight.

The departures were a factor in the dissolution, along with "the firm not being as successful during the last few years as it once was," managing partner Douglas Straus said in the bankruptcy filing.

A dozen or so years ago, Archer Norris was a thriving firm with about 200 employees working in Northern and Southern California. Now the partners can't afford to pay the last 60 workers to wind down the business.

Archer Norris owes $302,634 in accrued and unpaid pre-petition payroll, and asked the bankruptcy court to authorize the firm to "withhold any adequate protection payments and use such funds to replenish the employee funds." The remaining lawyers plan to leave by Sept. 15, according to reports.

The Last Chapter

Before the Chapter 11 filing, there were 70 attorneys working at the firm. They are taking business elsewhere as firm managers finish matters before ending client services on Sept. 24.

Archer Norris once had offices in Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Los Angeles. In the beginning, it was created from a merger of Norris & Norris and Archer, McComas, Bresline, McMahon & Chritton.

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