"Four years of lawsuits and federal investigations had worn down the leaders of Jenkens & Gilchrist. Many of their biggest earners were leaving the law firm and taking their prized clients with them. And it had become hard to attract talent, with no end in sight for the firm’s problems.
04/01/07: IRS cuts, growing wealth gave rise to questionable tax shelters
04/01/07: Jenkens’ collapse not an unusual case
03/30/07: Jenkens & Gilchrist closing after admitting role in tax fraud
03/23/07: Jenkens loses most of its Chicago staff
02/28/07: Jenkens & Gilchrist shrinking in wake of tax scandal
Graphic: Rise and fall (.pdf)
It was time to execute the last-ditch plan: dissolve the firm. Jenkens & Gilchrist couldn’t be saved. So the firm’s leaders had to try and save the people. "There is a timeline beyond which even the most loyal people say no," said former chairman Tom Cantrill. "It had just taken so long."
Founded 56 years ago and once the largest law firm in Dallas, Jenkens is closing its doors for good this weekend. What drove it to extinction was a combination of issues, including misjudgments tied to rapid growth and an aggressive drive to bring in business.
But above all, a risky tax shelter practice out of its Chicago office brought about the firm’s end. The tax scheme, which Jenkens long defended but wound up admitting was fraudulent, left a cloud that would not disperse, according to interviews with nearly three dozen people inside and outside the firm.