About two weeks ago, we covered reports about Dewey & LeBoeuf possibly shedding some of its overseas offices. We noted at the time, however, that the reports were vague, and we added that some D&L sources denied the existence of plans for closing any specific foreign office.

Well, the reports are getting increasingly detailed. Word on the street is that D&L might shutter three of its offices in the Middle East. And the firm’s Moscow office is reportedly being courted by other major U.S. law firms.

Which offices are being considered for closure? And who are Dewey’s suitors in Moscow?

From Russia with love, by Bloomberg Businessweek:

Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP’s struggle to survive a defection crisis that has seen it lose 20 percent of its partners is intensifying as its 42-lawyer Moscow outpost seeks to decamp to another U.S. law firm, according to a person familiar with the negotiations….

The firms in talks with Dewey’s Russia-based lawyers include Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Winston & Strawn LLP and King & Spalding LLP, said the person, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Will Dewey hold on to its Russian outpost? Some sources say 'nyet.'

Of the 42 lawyers, about a dozen are partners. Dewey is not a newcomer to Mother Russia: the firm has had a presence in the country since 1990. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Moscow office focuses on corporate and finance work in the energy sector.

Ah, the energy sector. As you may recall, many of the recent Dewey defectors have been energy lawyers. With some of their U.S. colleagues no longer at the firm, Russia-based energy lawyers might be interested in looking around.

The Middle East is another hub for energy lawyers. So it shouldn’t shock anyone to learn the following, from Legal Week:

Dewey & LeBoeuf has kicked off a restructuring of its Middle East operations that could result in the closure of the firm’s Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha offices. Confirmation of the restructuring, which is being led by the managing partner of Dewey’s Riyadh base, Khalid Al-Thebity, comes after a 12-lawyer walkout from the firm’s Dubai office to Dechert earlier this week.

The departures leave Dewey with just local partner Peter Gray and associate Andrew Gibson in Dubai, with corporate finance partner Stephen Jurgenson and associate Martin Skehill in the firm’s Abu Dhabi office. The firm’s Doha base has just one associate — Claire Bechara — following the departure of local managing partner Kenneth Freeling to K&L Gates last year.

The recent exits saw Dubai corporate partners Gavin Watson and Chris Sioufi, local partners Samer Amro, Christian Harran and John Podgore and eight associates leave for Dechert, along with London capital markets partners Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein.

If Dewey loses its Moscow-based energy lawyers and closes several of its Middle Eastern outposts, can it still claim to have, as it did yesterday, “one of the world’s leading energy practices, spanning virtually every aspect of the sector across the globe”?

Meanwhile, on the home front, the possibility that partner departures could create problems for Dewey’s loan covenants — a prospect we discussed a week ago — has made the New York Times….


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