Dewey & LeBoeuf, Lateral Moves, Law Firm Mergers, Mergers and Acquisitions, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, United Kingdom / Great Britain, White & Case

Dewey Still Have the $6 Million Man? Nope: Mort Pierce Is Out the Door (Plus Other Partner Departures)

Morton Pierce

This just in: superstar M&A lawyer Morton A. Pierce is leaving Dewey & LeBoeuf, the beleaguered Biglaw behemoth. This news should not shock anyone; rumors of Pierce’s possible departure have been making the rounds for weeks now.

So where is Morton Pierce going?

As we’ve been doing when covering this breaking story, we’ve added multiple UPDATES, after the jump.

Here’s a report on Mort’s move, from Ashby Jones and Jennifer Smith of the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.):

Morton A. Pierce, the 63-year-old vice chairman of the firm, is a top mergers and acquisitions lawyer and was one of the architects of the 2007 merger that created Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Mr. Pierce is moving to White & Case LLP, according to a person familiar with the matter….

Mr. Pierce, a renowned M&A lawyer with a relentless work ethic, had negotiated a pay deal around the time of the merger that guaranteed him $6 million a year for six years, according to a person with direct knowledge of the arrangement. Mr. Pierce has declined to discuss his compensation.

He had been speaking to a number of law firms about a move in recent weeks, according to other people familiar with the discussions. He could join White & Case as soon as Friday and will be bringing seven other partners with him, according to a person familiar with the matter.

There’s more about Mort Pierce — including discussion of his estimated $60 million book of business, and major deals he has worked on over the years — in Sara Randazzo’s story for Am Law Daily (sub. req.).

By the way, we’re going to be revising and updating this post heavily, turning it into a repository for the latest Dewey news (developments since last night’s epic post — which itself bears several updates, by the way). Refresh the page to see the latest updates.

UPDATE (12:30 PM): In case you missed the links in Morning Docket, the WSJ had this earlier report on the collapse of the SNR Denton merger talks:

Merger discussions between struggling New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP and law firm SNR Denton collapsed on Wednesday after a whirlwind nine-day courtship, according to two people familiar with the matter…. SNR Denton had suggested doing a full merger, in which it would have taken on more than 1,000 remaining Dewey lawyers, according to the two people familiar with the matter.

The deal, which SNR Denton leaders had unofficially deemed “A Phoenix Rises from the Ashes” would have hinged on the merged firm’s ability to land hundreds of millions of dollars in financing, which they would have repaid over five years, these people said.

Observed Elie: “A Phoenix Rises, Then Has A Heart Attack.”

And Peter Lattman of DealBook had this article, also linked in Morning Docket, on partner defections and the internal investigation:

Meanwhile, the Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyers conducting an internal inquiry into accusations of misconduct by its former chairman have hired private investigators to conduct the review. Seth C. Farber and Harvey Kurzweil, the two Dewey partners conducting the internal investigation of Steven H. Davis, the former chairman, retained Guidepost Solutions, led by Bart M. Schwartz, a former chief of the criminal division at the United States attorney in Manhattan….

There were several additional defections from the firm on Wednesday. Among the partners announcing their departures was Ira White, a private equity partner who has joined Jones Day. More than 90 of the firm’s 300 lawyers have left Dewey since January.

Lawyers at Dewey said that one reason departures slowed on Wednesday was that partners were waiting until the end of the week. On Friday, Dewey partners are supposed to be paid their monthly “draw,” a base salary distributed to all partners. Dewey’s monthly draw is about $25,000 a partner, according to the firm’s partners.

UPDATE (12:50 PM): Julie Triedman of Am Law Daily has this report (sub. req.) on additional partner departures:

In the latest round of defections to hit Dewey & LeBoeuf, three litigation partners from the crumbling firm’s depleted London outpost, including the office’s managing partner, are jumping to the London office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, that firm announced early Thursday. Separately, Jones Day announced that it has hired a top New York–based Dewey private equity partner [Ira White, mentioned supra]….

The three Dewey partners bound for Morgan Lewis — all of whom focus their practice on litigation and international arbitration — include London office managing partner Peter Sharp, Nick Greenwood, and David Waldron. Waldron served as overseas co-chair of the Dewey’s litigation department and as co-chair of its oil, gas, and energy dispute resolution group. Greenwood focuses on dispute resolution in the private equity, banking, insurance, property development and shipping sectors.

UPDATE (1:00 PM): Dan Slater has an interesting Dewey piece in The Daily Beast: Dewey & LeBoeuf Near Collapse — Are Other White Shoe Law Firms In Peril? He notes past appearances by Dewey in popular culture (e.g., Michael Clayton and the West Wing).

UPDATE (4:25 PM): Pierce is moving to White & Case with seven other partners, including New York corporate partner Denise Cerasini, according to Am Law Daily (reg. req.).

We’ll continue to update this post with news and links. Please refresh your browser for the latest version of this story. As always, if you have information to share, you can email us or text us (646-820-8477 — note that this is not a voice line). Thanks.

Dewey & LeBoeuf Near Collapse—Are Other White Shoe Law Firms In Peril? [Daily Beast]
Dewey Loses Prominent M&A Lawyer [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
Dewey Vice Chair Morton Pierce On His Way To White & Case, Sources Say [Am Law Daily (reg. req.)]
Partner Losses Keep Climbing for Dewey as London Trio Bolts for Morgan Lewis [Am Law Daily (reg. req.)]
With a Merger Unlikely, Dewey’s Options Shrink [DealBook / New York Times via Morning Docket]
Dewey-SNR Deal Talks Collapse [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) via Morning Docket]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Dewey Have An Exorcist In The House? (Plus more potential partner departures.)
Dewey Know Whom To Blame? Some Say ‘Steve’

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