Bankruptcy, Biglaw, Crime, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Dewey Ballantine, Dissolution, Kimba Wood, Law Firm Mergers, Law Firm Names, LeBoeuf Lamb, Money, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, White-Collar Crime

Dewey Know Whom To Blame? Some Say ‘Steve’

Davis does have his defenders — including people who find the notion of a possible criminal investigation to be ridiculous.

“Criminal charges seem a little absurd,” said a source who knows Davis. According to this tipster, while Davis may have made poor management decisions — giving out so many guarantees may have been foolish, for example, since it reduced incentives for partners to work hard or develop new business — nothing criminal took place. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Martin Bienenstock, of the Office of the Chairman

And to the extent that Davis gets blamed for Dewey’s downfall, the blame should be shared: “What about all the Executive Committee members, and the other members of the chairman’s office?”

Well, what about them? One angry ex-partner told us, “If the guys on the Ex Com had any balls, or any hair on their balls, they would have stopped this a long time ago.” But they didn’t — even though they probably had the power, on account of their books, to figure out what was going on and nip it in the bud.

Why? One possible reason is that they all had guarantees themselves: “All these guys were fat and happy when they were getting paid.” A commenter on last night’s post opined:

Davis, DiCarmine and [CFO Joel] Sanders should be [dealt with harshly]. Sad thing is that the entire executive committee and others with power allowed them to run the firm with little or no oversight.

The people who could have and should have done something were simply paid off to let Davis and his a**hole buddies, both of whom are dumb as rocks with no experience in law firm administration, decide what was best for a large and complex organization. They are all complicit in the demise of the firm. Pay me and I will let you do what you want. Funny how those on the executive committee rose up only after the firm could no longer pay their guarantees. Most of these a**holes do not care about anyone but themselves.

So what’s the moral of the Dewey & LeBoeuf story? A former partner offered this wisdom: “If you want to have a law firm, it should be run like a law firm. Partners should have a say in what happens, and partners should share in the upside and downside in proportion to their equity. There shouldn’t be a Class A and a Class B of the partnership. And the partnership shouldn’t pay out more money than it brings in.”

What does the future hold for Steven H. Davis? It’s probably not pretty. Even if the possible criminal probe goes nowhere, he may find securing a new law firm post quite difficult.

“Steve is not getting another legal job,” in the opinion of a longtime family friend. “He has no client base because he has been busy managing. And he’s seen as no great manager now. If you Google him now, you pull up the DA’s probe.”

If you have additional information about Steve Davis or Steve DiCarmine, whether positive or negative, we welcome it, by email or by text message (646-820-8477). We suspect that we haven’t heard the last about either Steve.

We will review what we receive and mention the most interesting information in updates pasted below.

UPDATE (10:30 AM): A reader sent us a capsule bio for Steve DiCarmine. It’s lengthy, so we have posted in on the next page of this post (or you can click here).

UPDATE (10:50 AM): Here’s an interesting defense of the Steves, from a former partner of Dewey & LeBoeuf who contacted us after this story went up (he was not one of our original sources):

My personal opinion is that this whole Office of the Chair was a mistake. If Steve Davis and Steve DiCarmine had remained at the helm, the Firm would have survived. The inexperienced partners who took over the Firm (particularly [Richard] Shutran and [Stephen] Horvath) have run down the Firm to its knees. They have no experience in managing a crisis and the events of the last few weeks have proven that. They will be held accountable for their failure and, by focusing probes and investigations on Davis and DiCarmine, they are trying to deflect the attention on their (and the executive committee members’) failure.

UPDATE (11:10 AM): From a former associate at D&L:

I don’t have any inside info except that DiCarmine was a total pimp — goes to the gym 6 times a week! Everybody at the firm was on his nuts, whereas Davis was seen as an out-of-touch nerd.

RIP LeBoeuf, ONLY major law firm with state-based practices (which made them invaluable in the insurance industry!). I wish they had never merged. (I was hired by legacy Leboeuf, which is where I was down to work!)

UPDATE (11:15 AM): Over at Adam Smith, Esq., Bruce MacEwen has this great post, which discusses several of the themes discussed above and what can be learned from recent events. MacEwen’s post actually went up before my story, but I didn’t catch it until later. Here’s a nice quote:

We don’t yet know what the true highest to lowest partner compensation ratio will be revealed to have been, but 12:1 and 15:1 have been widely reported and if you put together the $6-million/year figure for Mort Pierce and the $300,000/year figure for service partners, it’s a nice round 20:1.

Ratios like this, plus performance-uncorrelated guarantees, constitute a dagger to the very heart of the concept of partnership. If you have made by late January what I’ll make all year, and if my compensation depends on my performance while yours does not, we are in no sense known to the English language “partners,” whatever turgid documentation to the contrary might say.

Read MacEwen’s full post here.

UPDATE (5/8/2012): A few quick background points about Davis, DiCarmine, and Sanders, from a source who once worked at LeBoeuf:

1. Steve Davis did not spend his entire career at LeBoeuf. He left for a time to work in business then returned several years later to the Energy Department.

2. Steve DiCarmine worked at Kramer Levin before joining LeBoeuf. Steve was hired to be the Marketing Director/Head of Legal Recruiting…. Steve Davis hired DiCarmine [at LeBoeuf].

3. Joel Sanders, who also has a law degree but never practiced law, was hired from a direct marketing firm to be the firm’s IT Director. He was later moved to CFO position. Davis and DiCarmine hired Sanders and promoted him to CFO.

Dewey: 1909—2012 [Adam Smith, Esq.]
Once an Ambitious Law Firm, Reduced to Grim Dispatches [DealBook / New York Times]
Dishing the debt [The Lawyer]
Mob boss and killer ‘Vinny Gorgeous’ escapes death sentence [Daily Mail]
Dewey memo a message meant for only some partners, official says [Daily Journal (sub req.)]

Earlier: Legacy Dewey Ballantine and Legacy LeBoeuf Lamb: Choose Your Weapon
Dewey Know What’s Going To Happen Next? Lawyers and Staff Face Uncertain Future
Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Paralegal’s Lament

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