Partner Profits

I worked for twenty years at the darkest of the black-box compensation law firms: No one knew what anyone else was being paid, and the firm forbade talking about compensation. Here’s the curious part: We obeyed.

I saw the raised eyebrows of partners considering moving laterally to my firm: “Right — no one talks about compensation. You guys must talk about it all the time, just like we do at my firm. It can’t be a secret.”

Wrong. We really, honest-to-God did not talk about compensation. The subject just didn’t come up.

I’ve heard second-hand that this is true for other black-box firms, too. The managing partner of a different large, black-box comp firm recently told one of my colleagues: “Once you take compensation out of the limelight and forbid people from talking about it, then people stop talking about it. The subject drops off the table.”

That sets the stage: At firms where lawyers are permitted to talk about each other’s compensation, they do. And at firms where lawyers are prohibited from talking about compensation, they don’t.

Riddle me this: In corporate law departments, we are not prohibited from discussing each other’s compensation, but we don’t do it anyway. Why is that?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Kvetching About Comp”

I’ve watched Dewey’s collapse only from a distance, as have most lawyers. And I’m no student of law firm finances or management. But this struck me as I read the news:

Dewey: 2012.
Howrey: 2011.
Thelen: 2009.
Heller: 2008.
Coudert: 2006.
Brobeck: 2003.

And I’m probably overlooking other recent collapses of prominent firms, since I cobbled together that list from the names that came to mind unprompted.

This history suggests that another large, well-respected firm will collapse next year, and it’s a near certainty that a firm will collapse within the next two years. Who will it be?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Dewey Know Who’s Next?”

Photo (no, not a photoshop) by ATL reader 'Anna.'

As we reported over the weekend, it’s looking like Dewey & LeBoeuf will soon find itself in bankruptcy (perhaps voluntarily, perhaps not). The specter of bankruptcy raises a question for the many former partners of Dewey: dude, where’s my car capital contribution?

Let’s find out — and get the latest dispatches on the Dewey death spiral, including news of a new home for former vice chair Ralph Ferrara….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Partners Get Any Capital Back? Good Luck With That!
(Plus more partner moves, including Ralph Ferrara.)


Since our Friday photo essay on Dewey & LeBoeuf, the once-proud law firm that probably isn’t long for this world, numerous other outlets have produced some excellent Dewey coverage. We mentioned two of the pieces, about partner problems and unpaid janitors’ bills, in today’s Morning Docket.

It’s interesting to see how the pace of the Dewey story is shifting. We’re moving from the breathless breaking of news into a period of longer pieces focused on analysis and narrative. This makes sense, given that most of the major events have already transpired (with the exception of formalities that will be big news if and when they do occur — e.g., an official vote of dissolution, a filing of bankruptcy, etc.).

So let’s do a more comprehensive review of the latest Dewey stories from around the web. We bring you more theories of blame, more partner departures, and more revelations about the personal life of former chairman Steven H. Davis….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Boy, Dewey Have A Reading List For You!”

Law firm financials can be shrouded in mystery. Sure, the American Lawyer releases its closely watched and highly influential Am Law 100 rankings each year, which shed some light on the subject. But these numbers are not Gospel truth, and sometimes they get restated — which is what happened last month to Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Making a material misrepresentation to the American Lawyer doesn’t violate the securities laws. Making a material misrepresentation in connection with the purchase or sale of any security — well, that’s more problematic.

Let’s take a closer look at a subject we mentioned last night and again this morning, namely, the offering memorandum for Dewey’s 2010 private placement of $125 million in bonds….

Note: we’ve added UPDATES, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Violate Rule 10b-5? A Detailed Look at the Firm’s 2010 Offering Memorandum”

That’s the question the WSJ Law Blog just asked about the [pick your favorite adjective: beleaguered / collapsing / flailing / troubled] law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Today brings big, bad news for Dewey: bankruptcy superstar Martin Bienenstock is taking his practice to Proskauer Rose. He’s moving with five other partners — Philip Abelson, Irena Goldstein, Timothy Karcher, Michael Kessler, Judy Liu — and nine associates.

Dewey’s loss is Proskauer’s gain. “He is absolutely the crown jewel over there, a fantastic lawyer who will be a great partner,” a current Proskauer partner told us. “This is going to vault us into the company of Kirkland and Weil, giving us one of the top bankruptcy practices in the country. We are really thrilled.”

As you may recall, Bienenstock was a member of the five-person Office of the Chairman at Dewey. As my colleague Staci Zaretsky wondered earlier today, “Dewey seriously have one chairman again?” With Bienenstock to Proskauer, Jeffrey Kessler to Winston & Strawn, Richard Shutran to O’Melveny & Myers, and Steve Davis off to who knows where, only Charles Landgraf remains in the chairman’s office. (Note that Landgraf’s bio is still on the Dewey website.)

Bienenstock’s departure doesn’t mark the end of Dewey’s difficulties. Let’s review the latest news….

Of course we’ve added UPDATES, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Have Anyone Left To Turn Out the Lights?
(Plus an actual lawsuit, a possible lawsuit, and a partner’s theory of blame.)”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Still Have the $6 Million Man? Nope: Mort Pierce Is Out the Door (Plus Other Partner Departures)”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Know Whom To Blame? Some Say ‘Steve’”

As we mentioned last week, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. And despite all the doom and gloom permeating the legal profession, as well as the stagnant bonuses for associates lucky enough to make it into Biglaw, partners at large law firms are living just as large as ever.

In a way, the recovery in Biglaw is not unlike the recovery in America in general. If you were already well-off, you’re doing great now. It’s just not trickling down to anybody else. See, e.g., anemic spring bonuses.

Interestingly enough, the division of the world into “haves and have-nots” continues even into the world of major law firms. Partners at super-top-tier firms are putting even more distance between themselves and partners at less high-powered or less profitable firms.

Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The 2012 Am Law 100: Revenue and Profits Continue To Climb”

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Moscow and the Middle East: Dewey Have A Problem?
(Plus more about Dewey’s loan covenants.)”

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