Orrick Appellate Team Plays Key Role in Important California Supreme Court Win in Heller Case


In a major ruling affecting the entire legal industry, the California Supreme Court today sided with Orrick in a case involving the bankruptcy of the Heller Ehrman law firm. The court unanimously backed the arguments of our appellate team, establishing important precedent that, among other things, protects the relationship between clients and their chosen law firms.

The Ninth Circuit two years ago certified a key legal question at the heart of the matter to the California Supreme Court, which addressed whether, under California law, a dissolved law firm has a property interest in hourly legal matters that are in progress but not completed at the time the law firm has dissolved.

Partner Eric Shumsky led the Orrick appellate team on the matter, persuading the state Supreme Court to rely on arguments he raised in our briefs and at oral argument.

“This result is the only fair and workable result in the modern legal industry,” Eric said. “Lawyers switch firms all the time to better serve their clients. The Court’s ruling ensures that when lawyers do switch firms, clients have complete control over who handles their matters and who gets paid for doing so.”

In addition to Eric, who argued the case, the Orrick team included Daniel Rubens, Chris Cariello, Anjali Dalal, Charles Tyler and former associate Rachel Wainer Apter. Jones Day and Davis Wright Tremaine were among the other firms that worked closely with our team.

 You can read Law360's "How They Won It" piece on the case here.