Thelen's spectacular implosion was one of the first in a series of law firm dissolutions that, unfortunately, continues to this day. Three associates and a staff member who lost their jobs in the run-up to the firm's demise filed a suit days before the firm's collapse alleging violations of federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and California's equivalent statute. The plaintiffs in the suit have just been granted class certification, and plan to continue their action on behalf of all similarly situated ex-Thelen employees. The suit alleges that Thelen failed to give the 60 days notice required under WARN before closing its doors last October. The workers behind the suit are seeking damages under WARN and the California statute.
Thelen stipulated to the class certification, a decision that the plaintiffs' attorney, Steven A. Blum, had high praise for, according to the National Law Journal: "Thelen law firm was wise enough to see that it made sense to stipulate
to class certification so its employees can receive the benefits they
are owed in the most administratively efficient method," the Journal quotes Blum as saying.
Of course, Thelen may have just figured that it had nothing to lose. After all, the reason the firm went under was because it didn't have any money and couldn't get its banks to loan it any more. Thelen probably just figures that, even if the plaintiffs are successful, they won't be able to squeeze blood from a turnip.
But Blum has a plan for that. The attorney is already plotting moves against firms that took in Thelen partners as they fled the sinking ship. Nixon Peabody seems like a prime target, as the firm welcomed 90 Thelen refugees last November. Blum seems to want to go after the former Thelen partners, as well as the firms that hired them under a successor company theory.
What do you think? Will he have any luck? And will this strategy only poison the legal job market further by striking fear into the hearts of those considering hiring partners from firms that may have violated WARN?