Savage & Associates Counselors at Law

Savage & Associates is now Savage Law Group PLLC

Savage & Associates has evolved its practice to encompass new people and new practices. Such evolution warrants a new name!  Thus, “Savage Law Group, PLLC.”  We’re excited about our expanded practice and new name.  We look forward to continuing to … Continue reading

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Small, Nimble Firms are the Future of Law

The Wall Street Journal published an article on May 29, 2012 by Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall entitled “Winston and Crandall: The Law Firm Business Model is Dying.”  In it, Winston and Crandall argue that, because large clients are increasingly using in-house counsel to reduce costs and the public is increasingly taking the do-it-yourself approach, deregulation of law firms to allow non-attorneys to have an ownership stake in a law firm will enhance a mid-sized to large firm’s ability to (1) attract investment, (2) assist large firms to realize inefficiencies, and (3) make more money.

While I agree with Winston and Crandall’s premise that the Law Firm Business Model is struggling, I disagree that deregulation is the answer to law firm inefficiencies and billing  abuses.

Having worked in big, mid-sized and small firms, as well as having hiring mid-sized and large firms to pursue litigation on behalf of cases in which Savage & Associates has been appointed a litigation trustee in Chapter 11 cases (and thus vested with pursuing certain litigation in mega-bankruptcy cases), law firm inefficiencies and problematic business models arise for a whole host of reasons that would not be resolved by partnering with accountants, banks, professional managers or financial advisors.  Moreover, none of Winston and Crandall’s suggestions address the underlying reasons that companies are using in-house counsel or people are engaging in do-it-yourself legal services.

Obviously, accounting firms, banks and financial advisors have all had their share of well publicized business challenges/inefficiencies/failures and have been criticized for their respective billing and compensation models, as well.   To imply that partnering with such professionals would implicitly render mid and large sized law firms more efficient and affordable is a blatant fallacy.  By way of example, Dewey LeBeouf had plenty of bank and bond debt and presumed oversight in connection with such debt.  Dewey failed nonetheless mostly, it appears, because (1) certain attorneys believed they warranted exponentially higher pay than others; (2) it was acceptable to use junior partners as underpaid workhorses; and (3) Dewey Partners may have failed to maintain adequate oversight of the obligations being incurred by the controlling committee.

Manifestly, a universal fault line in large firms is that the established large firm model is upside down.  Totally inexperienced first-year Associates are being paid upwards of $160,000 (plus a bonus), while junior partners (notably at Dewey) were being paid as little as $300,000 (relatively speaking).  Moreover, Associates at mid-sized and large firms are compelled to bill in excess of 1800 t0 2000 to justify their existence, thus creating a perfect storm for over-lawyering and over-billing if business gets slow.  Why has this model persisted?  Even corporate clients are beginning to ask this question and are now balking at underwriting the cost of educating/financing these young Associates.

Ultimately, the answer to law firm inefficiencies and streamlined client services are three-fold:  (1) Corporate clients must be diligent in oversight of their outside counsel and compel their counsel to not only justify services undertaken, but the time billed in connection therewith; (2) law firms must endeavor not to over-lawyer and over-staff projects; and (3) young Associate compensation and mandated hours billed must be moderated.  None of the foregoing means that law firms should not zealously represent their clients.  However, personal experience with mid and large-sized firms has disclosed a failure of Partners to adequately monitor their Associates, resulting in over-lawyering and mistakes being made by inexperienced Associates.

At Savage & Associates, we are cognizant of a client’s budget, as well as their legal objectives, and work to render the two compatible.  We invest in and hire mature and experienced attorneys and staff.  Moreover, a Partner maintains strick and constant oversight of Associates, reviewing all relevant case law, underlying facts and relevant documents, as well as consistently interacting with our clients.  Savage & Associates is extremely efficient, having developed both technological and management systems which enhance Savage’s ability to promptly and effectively respond to litigation requirements.

Finally, Savage & Associates has a strong belief in and commitment to Alternative Dispute Resolution and will always seek ADR options in best interests of its Clients.

At Savage & Associates, efficiency and success are our hallmark.

CHOOSE SAVAGE & ASSOCIATES P.C.

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DC Superior Court Rules in Savage & Associates’ Favor re Mediation Communication Confidentiality

Savage & Associates, which obtained permission to intervene in the Mandl v. K&L Gates action pending in the DC Superior Court (Mandl v K&L Gates Memo and Order Granting & Denying in Part Savage’s Mtn to Intervene), won its motion respecting (1) its purported duration of of the Mediation Process and (2) its right to maintain blanket confidentiality of its mediation communications.  To read the decision, click on the below link.

Mandl Decision and Order Re Mediation Communication Confidentiality – DC Superior Court

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Denise Savage Asked to Consult for Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia

Denise Savage, Managing Member and Attorney at Savage PLLC, has been asked by Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-District 3) to research, analyze and crystallize business incentives provided at the state, county and city level, and meet with relevant stakeholders, to assist in creating more effective protocols to attract businesses to Westchester County towns and villages in her district.

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Denise Savage named Treasurer to Westchester County Legislator’s Campaign

Denise Savage,  Managing Member and Attorney of Savage PLLC, has been named Treasurer to the Friends of Catherine Borgia Campaign.  Catherine Borgia is Westchester County Legislator for District 3.  Ms. Savage has been hired as Treasurer in connection with Ms. Borgia’s present and future campaigns.

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Savage PLLC Opens New White Plains Office

Savage PLLC is excited to announce that it has opened a new office at 50 Main Street, White Plains, New York!  Now more centrally located in Westchester County, Savage PLLC provides more convenient service and access for its clients.

We look forward to continuing to provide superlative legal services to our clients.

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Savage & Associates Supports Clinton Foundation Millennium Network

Denise Savage, President of Savage & Associates PC, attended The Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Night Out on December 8, 2011.

Inspired by former President William J. Clinton, The Clinton Foundation Millennium Network invites future leaders and philanthropists to get involved in the work of the Clinton Foundation — improving global health, strengthening economies, promoting healthier childhoods, and protecting the environment.

Ms. Savage, pictured above with President Clinton, is a consistent champion of organizations committed to improving the quality of life for people globally. To this end, Ms. Savage spoke with President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton (Honorary Chair) and Paul Rudd (Honorary Ambassador) about the Clinton Foundation Millennium Networks
objectives and accomplishments.

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Savage & Associates Attends PPHP Fundraiser at MOMA

Denise Savage, President of Savage & Associates PC, attended a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. The fundraiser benefitted Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, Planned Parenthood Nassau County, and Planned Parenthood of New York City.

The fundraiser allowed after-hours access to the first major museum exhibition devoted to the full scope of the career of Willem de Kooning, one of the most important artists of the 20th century. This blockbuster exhibition, only available at MoMA, presents an unparalleled opportunity to view the artist’s work over nearly seven decades. After hours access to this exhibit provided an effective fundraiser vehicle for Planned Parenthood.

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Denise Savage Holds Fundraiser for Westchester County Legislator Candidate, Catherine Borgia

Denise Savage and Stephen Gibson (pictured above with Catherine Borgia and her husband, Craig Johl) held a fundraiser at their home for Catherine Borgia, candidate for Westchester County Legislator. In addition to Catherine, special guests included NYS Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Westchester County Legislator Bill Burton.

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K&L Gates Wants Confidential Info In Teligent Row

By Hilary Russ

Law360, New York (July 28, 2011) — K&L Gates LLP argued Thursday that a bankruptcy judge in New York shouldn’t block the firm from seeking confidential documents pertaining to a settlement between bankrupt Teligent Inc. and its former CEO, which the firm says are key to defending against malpractice allegations.

The document dispute touches on related proceedings in other courts, creating a jurisdictional quandary that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart M. Bernstein will have to address, said the firm at Thursday’s hearing.

The feud stems from the 2001 bankruptcy of telecommunications company Teligent when former CEO Alex Mandl left the company just before it went bankrupt.

At the time, he still owed Teligent $12 million on a $15 million loan he took out under his employment agreement. Mandl said that under the terms of the agreement, he did not have to repay the money.

But after the company’s reorganization plan was confirmed, Savage & Associates PC, the representative for a trust for unsecured creditors, launched hundreds of avoidance actions in bankruptcy court — including one against Mandl — to recover the funds. Mandl, who was represented by K&L, lost at trial.

Mandl got new lawyers from Greenberg Traurig LLP, filed post-judgment motions and resumed court-mandated mediation with Savage. The parties reached a deal calling for Mandl to hand over $6 million to the trust. The deal also directed Mandl to sue K&L in Washington superior court for malpractice and to give Savage half of any proceeds.

Since then, K&L has been trying in Washington court to get access to confidential information from the mediation discussions between Mandl and Savage. K&L says the documents could show some kind of collusion or fraud between the parties.

The discovery issue previously made it all the way up to the Second Circuit, which ruled in early May that K&L had not shown exactly why it needed the secret information.

However, the Second Circuit did find that the firm merely failed to show a compelling need for all mediation documents. Since that ruling, K&L has asked the Washington court for precise categories of documents, said K&L’s attorney, Luba Shur of Williams & Connolly LLP, at the bankruptcy court hearing.

Representing her firm, Denise Savage said that with her motion to block discovery in state court, she was merely asking the bankruptcy court to enforce its own confidentiality order and that it should not be left up to the state court to interpret a federal court’s ruling.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a state court to do that,” she told Judge Bernstein.

Jurisdictional issues were also raised by Savage’s other request that Judge Bernstein enforce the portion of the bankruptcy court-ordered settlement agreement that pertains to the proceeds of the malpractice suit.

Savage said the deal was done, consummated and was valid, and that she wanted the bankruptcy court to protect it against K&L’s attempt to dismantle it in the Washington case.

“We would like a ruling regarding our rights with the D.C. proceeds,” she told Judge Bernstein.

But Shur argued that there was “absolutely no precedent” for a federal bankruptcy court to become entangled in a common law tort case in such a manner.

“What Ms. Savage is asking is truly radical,” Shur said, claiming that Savage essentially wanted a bankruptcy judge to adjudicate a portion of a Washington case to which Savage was not even a party.

Shur also said one of several arguments K&L intended to make going forward in the malpractice suit was that the entire case should be thrown out because of improper proceedings.

“I’m not before the D.C. court. I’m before this court,” Savage shot back.

While Savage was not part of the malpractice suit, she said she should be able to appear there in order to protect her rights. And while K&L was not actually a party to the adversary case between Savage and Mandl in bankruptcy court, the firm was a major player at Thursday’s hearing.

This is the final case to be resolved in wrapping up the decade-old Teligent bankruptcy. At least $20 million has already been gathered to distribute to the creditors, but the outcome of the malpractice case could contribute to that amount significantly, attorneys involved in the case have previously said.

Bernstein said he would issue a ruling in the future.

“Next time write shorter briefs,” he told the attorneys.

Denise L. Savage of Savage & Associates PC represents her firm.

Luba Shur, Michael S. Sundermeyer and Mark S. Levinstein of Williams & Connolly LLP represent K&L Gates LLP.

Adam J. Lamb represents Mandl.

The adversary case is Savage & Associates PC et al. v. Alex Mandl, case number 1:03-ap-02523, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The bankruptcy is In re. Teligent Inc. et al., case number 1:01-bk-12974, in the same court.

–Additional reporting by Christie Smythe and Ian Thoms. Editing by Eydie Cubarrubia.


Hilary Russ
Senior Reporter

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