Dewey Ballantine

We have previously discussed the subject of pensions at the deeply troubled law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Right now it’s looking quite likely that the firm will wind up in dissolution or bankruptcy. If the firm does go down that path, what will happen to the retirement benefits of current and former employees?

Today we have some news on that front — plus UPDATES on other Dewey stories, of course….

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As of this morning, the Dewey & LeBoeuf web site is still live and trumpeting, among many other things, the firm’s recent award for “Private Equity Law Firm of the Year in Poland.”

Meanwhile, back on Earth and/or the rest of the internet, industry observers have been feeling a bit like voyeurs at a pre-mortem autopsy. Everyone agrees that the downfall of this once-great firm is hugely sad (well, nearly everyone), but there is less of a consensus about who or what is to blame.

Last week we asked the ATL readership for their take on where fault lies. Here’s what you had to say….

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On Friday, we broke the news of Dewey & LeBoeuf issuing a WARN Act notice to its U.S. employees. As explained by the U.S. Department of Labor, the WARN law generally requires an employer “to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.”

We noted, however, that employees shouldn’t be lulled into complacency by the 60-day requirement. As Elie wrote, “Dewey employees shouldn’t expect to just show up to work every day until Independence Day. Remember, we’ve learned from the Heller dissolution and other firms’ dissolutions that things tend to happen very quickly.”

Very quickly indeed. We are now hearing reports that this Friday, May 11, will be the last day for an unknown number of D&L employees….

As usual with the fast-moving Dewey story, we have multiple UPDATES, including some from Tuesday morning, after the jump.

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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here at Above the Law, we have given you many thousands of words about the troubles of Dewey & LeBoeuf. See, e.g., this lengthy post about the firm’s former leaders, ex-chairman Steven Davis and former executive director Stephen DiCarmine.

Now we bring you some pictures. As it turns out, the possible demise of Dewey has inspired the creation of art.

Keep reading, and check out the images below for a forthcoming portrait of former chairman Steven Davis, a chilling photograph, and an unfortunate D&L advertisement….

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Dewey & LeBoeuf's sign at 1301 Avenue of the Americas. (Photo by David Lat. Feel free to use.)

Let’s take a step back from the hurly-burly of day-to-day, hour-by-hour coverage of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the once-powerful law firm that could soon find itself in bankruptcy or dissolution. We will return to bringing you the latest Dewey news in tomorrow’s Morning Docket. (Of course, as you may have noticed, we added many updates to Tuesday night’s story; refresh that post for the newest developments.)

Let’s take a step back, and ask ourselves: Who is to blame for this sad state of affairs? And what lessons can be learned from the Dewey debacle?

Multiple UPDATES, including a short bio of Stephen DiCarmine, after the jump.

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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…

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On Friday, we broke the news of lawyer and staff layoffs at Dewey & LeBoeuf. There have been reports of the firm experiencing financial issues, and these cost-cutting measures appear to be part of a larger plan of attack. According to the memo sent out by chairman Steven H. Davis, Dewey plans to “reduc[e] the number of lawyers and administrative staff globally by approximately 5% and 6% respectively.”

But associates and support staff aren’t the only ones who will be feeling the pain. It appears that Dewey is seeking sacrifices from certain partners as well….

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* Crazy pro se lawsuit against Google, seeking $5 billion in damages, touches upon the war on terror and a Burton snowboard. And no, it wasn’t filed by Jonathan Lee Riches. [TechDirt]
* A misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals? Guess he wasn’t that good. [Denver Channel]
* Law professors get their academic gowns in a wad over the gender divide in faculty hiring. [TaxProf Blog]
* Dewey LeBoeuf? Already done it. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Debevoise & Plimpton lords it over the competition. [Times of London]

Please accept our apologies. After breaking the story on Friday afternoon, we kinda dropped the ball on the merger of Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb.
We’ll write more about this transaction later. Sadly, we have to head offline for a bit. But in the meantime, here’s an open thread for people to discuss the merger.
We’ll get the ball rolling with a press-release-type statement that was sent to DB interviewees:

After receiving a callback from Dewey, the recruiting department sent me and all similarly-situated recruits the heads up: The new firm, to be dubbed “Dewey & LeBoeuf,” is set to roll out, “subject to approval by the partners in both firms.”

Below is the email that I was sent. I apologize if you’ve already been notified.

The email, from Dewey Ballantine partner Henry Ricardo, appears after the jump.

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People in the offices of both Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb have been gossiping about a possible merger between their firms.
Here’s some circumstantial evidence in support of the rumors. If you go to Whois.Net and enter the domain name DeweyLeBoeuf.com, you get this info:
Dewey Ballantine 2  LeBoeuf Lamb Greene MacRae Above the Law blog.jpg
We have a call and an email in to Michael Groll. We’ll let you know if and when we hear back from him.
Update: Might this be a practical joke, as one commenter suggests? Quite possibly. That’s why we’ve reached out to Mr. Groll for comment.
Further Update (4:45 PM): No, this is the real deal. About an hour after our post went up, the WSJ Law Blog chimed in with this write-up: “LeBoeuf Lamb and Dewey Ballantine are in merger talks, with an announcement of a deal expected as early as Monday, according to people familiar with the situation.”
Further Further Update (8/25/07): The New York Times has an article on the merger talks here.
More discussion, plus links, after the jump.

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