Tower Snow Jr. has seen more dramatic twists and turns in his career than the coastal roads leading to San Francisco. Now, the 61-year-old Bay Area lawyer, who made headlines a few years back during his turbulent tenure as the chairman of now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, is embarking on another professional journey. On Thursday the San Francisco firm of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin announced that Snow has joined the firm as a director -- their term for partner -- and will resume his practice as a securities litigator.
Snow says he had "contact with quite a few firms" before choosing Howard Rice. The firm stood out because of its roster of clients, the quality of its lawyers, its strong reputation and its culture, he says. "Particularly given my experience at Brobeck I wanted a firm with a very collegial, very collaborative culture," Snow says.
At just 105 lawyers all in one office, Howard Rice is a far different place than the ambitious Brobeck, which grew rapidly, then imploded amid much rancor in early 2003. Says Snow: "Small is really beautiful."
Doug Winthrop, Howard Rice's chairman and managing director, says that bringing in Snow was a "fabulous opportunity." He adds: "Tower has a great reputation as a lawyer. When we heard through a partner who knows him personally that he was looking to join a firm, we very, very quickly jumped on this and made a full-court press."
From 1998 to 2002, Snow oversaw Brobeck's rapid expansion. Riding high on a wave of work for technology clients, Brobeck was the first Bay Area firm to break the $1 million mark in profits per partner. But the tech slowdown sparked internal tensions, which ultimately led to Snow being dramatically ousted as chairman in 2002. (For a comprehensive look at that saga, see this 2002 American Lawyer article.)
Soon after, Snow opened a San Francisco office for Clifford Chance, but that venture sputtered. Snow stepped down from the Clifford Chance partnership in 2004, but continued as a consultant for the London-based firm for two more years.
Most recently, says Snow, he has worked as a consultant for major financial services companies, helping them evaluate their exposure to securities class action claims. (He says he can't reveal those clients.) He doesn't expect it will take long for him to get comfortable as a litigator again, noting that during his career -- which has also included stints at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Shearman & Sterling -- he has been lead counsel for more than 200 class actions. He adds, "In my consulting capacity I was applying the same skills: evaluating matters, and assessing strengths and weaknesses."
Howard Rice's securities litigation group, which has seven partners, currently represents several major companies, including UBS, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab, according to Winthrop.
Snow explains why, at an age when he's close to collecting Social Security, he's decided to practice law again. "To have my career end with the demise of Brobeck and, through no one's fault, the lack of success at Clifford Chance, was very disappointing," he says. "I always wanted to have a different last chapter."
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.