Why Heller died
When Heller Ehrman partners gathered at Santa Barbara, California's Bacara Resort & Spa in March 2007, there was already reason to be concerned about the firm's future. Several practice areas were slow. The firm's national and global ambitions were in disarray. And partners were increasingly skeptical about management's ability to address the problems. But that weekend they were determined to laugh at this worrisome predicament. The final night of the retreat featured a $300,000 (£186,000) skit. Performers from the Los Angeles Opera, accompanied by a professional orchestra, portrayed chairman Matthew Larrabee (pictured) and other firm leaders frantically searching for a merger partner. "Some people were laughing, but I thought it was surreal," says one former partner.
Drew Combs reports on the bad decisions that sealed the fate of a US institution
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