Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Dewey Ballantine, Lateral Moves, Law Firm Mergers, LeBoeuf Lamb, Money, Partner Issues, Reader Polls

Legacy Dewey Ballantine and Legacy LeBoeuf Lamb: Choose Your Weapon

We’ve been chronicling the troubles of Dewey & LeBoeuf, a top firm facing tough times. Today brings more bad news for Dewey: eight additional partners have jumped off the ship.

Of course, this one firm used to be two. In 2007, Dewey Ballantine merged with LeBoeuf Lamb to create Dewey & LeBoeuf. At the time it was the rare merger of two top firms.

Now that the firm is struggling, legacy Dewey people and legacy LeBoeuf people have been blaming each other for the firm’s troubles. Who didn’t bring the prestige, who didn’t bring the rain, who is responsible for post-merger decisions that have led to turmoil?

Oh, recriminations. Fun times. We’ve been corresponding with some people who were at the respective firms before and after the merger, and listening to them blame the other side has been highly entertaining. Take a look, and vote for yourself about who is to blame…

Blame LeBoeuf: Lacking In Prestige, They Didn’t Bring the Rain.

When you talk to legacy Dewey Ballantine people, they are quick to point out that their collegues from LeBoeuf Lamb lacked the “prestige” that would be expected of a truly white-shoe firm. Yeah, I’m not kidding. As one legacy Dewey person put it:

It’s almost like a lack of breeding. Dewey hired and promoted people from the best schools who believed in slow and steady growth. LeBoeuf wasn’t like that.

Other legacy Dewey people have also made the prestige point. Consider this comment that was originally posted on a WSJ Law Blog story about Dewey:

Look, I am from the old line firm, Dewey Ballantine. We were white shoe until these LeBoeuf people came along, with their insurance and what have you. Guaranteed contracts? Pah! At Dewey Ballantine, we worked for prestige, not money. We never worked for anyone, just with someone. Maybe a small prepositional difference, but it makes all the difference in the world. On the securities and M & A side, we are still a premier first-class firm on a par with Cravath. The LeBouef crowd spolit it all, with their ill breeding and lack of Ivy League education. Dewey Ballantine still rules. And you can take that to the bank.


Other legacy Dewey friends have made arguments based not on class, but cash. Some claim that LeBoeuf attorneys received huge guarantees and then failed to bring in the clients and the fees required to justify those contracts. According to a piece by Casey Sullivan in today’s Daily Journal (sub. req.), “Two ex-Dewey insurance lawyers contacted Wednesday pointed to the firm’s practice of doling out lucrative guarantees to legacy partners, not just laterals, as a major factor that has contributed to the large amount of money the firm owes to its partners.”

Blame Dewey Ballantine: It Was A Sinking Ship When We Got Here.

My legacy LeBoeuf Lamb friends claim that Dewey was in all kinds of distress before the merger. They claim Dewey had to merge, to boost its failing financials:

Financially, they [Dewey] were f**ked before the merger and needed to merge with ANYONE since a prior merger had fallen through. Leboeuf (despite its many shortcomings) was one of the most financially sound and best run firms in the city and literally had zero debt!

Legacy LeBoeuf people say LeBoeuf brought cash that Dewey needed:

Dewey might have been ‘white shoe’ but LeBoeuf knew how to make green.

Debt was also a big bone of contention for LeBoeuf supporters:

I don’t expect Elie to be able to understand this, but taking on debt that you can’t pay is bad. LeBoeuf never did that. But it was Dewey’s business model. Eventually, the debts catch up to you.

Allrighty then.

But there is a third option here. Let’s consider it, and then vote in a reader poll….

(hidden for your protection)

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