Bankruptcy, Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Dissolution, Howrey LLP, Lateral Moves, Law Firm Mergers, Law Firm Names, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues

Dewey Have Any Updates? Some Say Silence Is ‘Deafening’

'I see... deferred people?'

Earlier this week, we mentioned a creepy coincidence: the fact that D&L’s offices in Silicon Valley are in the same haunted office park that once housed the dearly departed Howrey law firm. Am Law Daily’s Sara Randazzo notes another way in which the two ill-fated firms are connected:

If Dewey does indeed wind up filing for bankruptcy, the firm won’t be on wholly unfamiliar terrain: it is currently the eleventh largest unsecured creditor to Howrey, which dissolved last March and was pushed into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April. (The Howrey bankruptcy was later converted to a Chapter 11 proceeding that is now being overseen by a trustee.)

Dewey is owed $571,348 by the Howrey estate for rent due on space Dewey sublet to Howrey in Palo Alto, according to a court filing.

Yes, that’s right: the jinxed office park.

But wait: is it the Dewey offices that are haunted? Or is it the partners? Over at Thomson Reuters News & Insight, Alison Frankel asks, Is Dewey partner Henry Bunsow the Angel of Death? She writes:

Last month, a prominent intellectual property partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf told Casey Sullivan at the Los Angeles Daily Journal that Dewey was indeed putting off partner shares, but he said it wasn’t a big deal. Such deferred payments, said Henry Bunsow [pictured], are common. “I have confidence that (partners) will be treated fairly within the parameters of what the firm is dealing with,” he said. (The Daily Journal story is behind a paywall, but Above the Law has generous excerpts.)

How does Bunsow — who has an enviable client list and an impressive trial record — happen to know so much about troubled firms and deferred partner payments? Because before he joined Dewey in 2011, he was vice chairman of Howrey. And before that, in the early 1990s, Bunsow was a partner at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. In case you’re not a student of the history of defunct law firms, Brobeck shut down in January 2003 after failed merger talks with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Howrey imploded last March following a stream of partner defections. And we all know that Dewey has lost scores of partners and (as Reuters has reported) hired bankruptcy counsel this year. That’s quite a tough history: one partner, two failed law firms and a third in deep trouble.

In Bunsow’s defense, Frankel notes that he has also worked at Townsend and Townsend and Crew and Keker & Van Nest. Both firms are alive and well.

Bunsow didn’t speak with Frankel, but his old buddy Hopkins Guy, a partner at Baker Botts, did go on the record. Bunsow is “a very good trial attorney,” Guy said. “He’s going to land on his feet. Whoever hires him will be lucky to get him.” (Absolutely — but maybe keep Bunsow inside the courtroom and away from the management suite.)

Good luck to everyone at Dewey. Looking on the bright side, other firms recognize — and are eager to tap into — the considerable amount of talent still at the firm. As one D&L employee told Am Law Daily, recruiters have been calling constantly: “So even if Dewey does go down, we would all be able to find jobs at other white-shoe law firms in just a few short days.”

With a bang, not a whimper: Dewey & LeBoeuf [Economist (Lane Greene)]
Florida Example Could Help Drowning Dewey Lawyers [Slate]
Dewey Partners Press DA To Bring Charges Against Firm Head [Law360 (sub. req.)]
For Most Dewey Lawyers and Staffers, the Silence Is Deafening [Am Law Daily]
Is Dewey partner Henry Bunsow the Angel of Death? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
Greenberg makes a play for Dewey’s California partners [Daily Journal (sub. req.)]
Dewey merger tactics could be dangerous [Daily Journal (sub. req.)]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Dewey Have An Exorcist In The House?
Dewey Have A Shot Of Working Out A Rescue Plan — Before The Loans Come Due?
Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Paralegal’s Lament

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