Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Layoffs

Dewey Stay or Dewey Go? D&L Decamps from Hartford, Austin, Jacksonville

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgThe rumors that we alluded to earlier are true: Dewey & LeBoeuf is shuttering three offices. Here is the firm’s official statement on the office closings:

As part of its global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets throughout the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf will be closing its offices in Jacksonville, FL, Austin, TX and Hartford, CT.

All attorneys in these locations have been asked to remain with Dewey & LeBoeuf and relocate to one of the firm’s other offices. They will have the opportunity to integrate their practices within the firm’s network of over 1,400 lawyers in 13 countries. The decision is designed to continue the successful integration of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which saw its profits per partner increase to $1.57 million in 2007 following the October 1, 2007 merger.

The Jacksonville office, which has 10 lawyers, will close in December 2008. The Hartford office, which has 22 lawyers, will close in February 2009. The firm will continue to maintain a small presence in Hartford. The Austin office, which has 16 lawyers, will close in March 2009.

So that’s the official word. See also this story from the Austin Business Journal.
The allusion to D&L’s “global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets” is consistent with this rumor we heard: “Word on the street is that a consultant told Dewey to close Hartford because small market offices will preclude them from ever really competing with Skadden et al.”
Given the firm’s size, the number of lawyers affected by the closings isn’t huge: fewer than 50, out of over 1,400. But some folks are still unhappy campers.
Some gossip, and a little kvetching, after the jump.

One tipster at Dewey in Hartford can’t understand why the office is being closed, since it’s reportedly quite profitable. Another source claims it was the third most-profitable of legacy LeBoeuf and “was incredibly busy.”
burka Hartford burqa burkha burqha Dubai Doha UAE Qatar Above the Law blog.jpgThe firm told Hartford associates that they can relocate to any office, provided that it fits their skills: “They’re pushing NYC and DC, especially for the environmental group people. But the Dubai and Riyadh offices also have tons of work. Right.”
Trade in your Lexus for a camel, and get that burqa dry cleaned! In the age of $100-a-barrel oil, the Middle East is where it’s at.
Our Hartford tipster tells us that the firm will pay relocation costs for associates who move within the firm. But there won’t be any severance if they work in Hartford until February 2009 and then leave the firm. The theory is that people have been given ample notice and time to find new jobs in Hartford if they wish to stay in the city.
It sounds reasonable enough, but another source is not pleased:

The no severance package policy contradicts what happened in December of 2006 when four attorneys were laid off (their partner fell out of favor with firm executive board) and were given the standard 3 months of pay package. What’s particularly crappy about the whole situation is that there are several VERY senior associates there (11th and 13th years) who are now going to have a difficult time finding another job in the Hartford market.

In happier news for Hartford, bonuses are getting announced today. It’s “over a month after the rest of the firm was paid their bonuses” — but hey, better late than never. The bonuses will be some percentage of market. “We’re not expecting it to be a high percentage,” says this source.
Bostonians, stop gloating. You could be next, according to a Hartford colleague:

Per [firm executive director] Steve DiCarmine (who graced us with his presence yesterday, along with our CFO Joel Sanders and our CAO and a bunch of HR people), Boston’s fate will be determined by the end of 2009. Our office will stay open through the end of its lease (February of 2009). If we’re interested in Boston, he’s not recommending that anyone sell their houses and relocate their families, but commuting for the rest of 2009 is an option (awesome commute, CT to Boston every day).

As for Austin, we hear that lawyers there are being asked to go to the Houston office. One source says that this option “is probably being met with just a little bit of resistance, since sometime shortly before the merger, legacy Dewey people apparently moved from Houston to Austin. Now they get to move back or leave the firm.”
(The Austin closing, by the way, is relatively old news. It was announced at a meeting last month.)
Law firm to back out of Austin [Dallas Business Journal]

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