Biglaw

This past Friday, we broke the news of the troubled Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm issuing WARN Act notice to its employees. This federal law generally requires an employer “to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.”

That was Friday, May 4. Earlier this week, Dewey informed many support staff members that their last day of work would be this Friday, May 11. It then informed many associates that their last day of work will be this coming Tuesday, May 15. Both staffers and associates will be paid through the 15th and will have health insurance through May 31st.

My math skills have atrophied from disuse, but I am still capable of counting to 60. And it seems to me that Dewey did not provide its employees with 60 days notice of its mass layoffs.

So, Dewey have any WARN Act liability?

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Partner departures from the fast-sinking Dewey & LeBoeuf have reached a point where it’s difficult to track them in real time. We’ll focus our coverage on the biggest defections. There are multiple other resources for monitoring all the moves, the latest being the Wall Street Journal’s interactive graphic. (Similar trackers are available from Am Law Daily and Thomson Reuters.)

Last week, an internal memo gave Dewey partners the green light to consider “alternative opportunities” with other law firms. Many partners have availed themselves of that permission, with dozens of partners leaving the firm since the memo’s issuance. According to Thomson Reuters, about 150 of Dewey’s 300 partners have resigned since the start of 2012.

And now one of Dewey’s leaders — the chair of the firm’s Global Litigation Department, and a member of the multi-partner Office of the Chairman — is departing. Where is he going?

As usual, various UPDATES — including news of another departure by a department head and Chairman’s Office member, and additional details of litigators on the move — after the jump.

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

When I launched The People’s Therapist, my intent was to get stuff off my chest — process a smidgen of psychic trauma. I’d write a column or two, exorcise the odd demon, piss off Sullivan & Cromwell, and call it a day.

It never occurred to me I’d be deluged with lawyers as clients.

It never, ever occurred to me I’d be deluged with partners as clients.

It never so much as crossed my mind they’d be so unhappy.

It turns out being a partner can be… not all that. For many of my clients, the job boils down to evil middle management.

Permit me to explain….

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* Dewey get the chance to reap revenge against all of the partners who defected? Only in bankruptcy clawback suits. Many are keeping an eye on the Coudert and Thelen Chapter 11 cases to see if they’ll have to pay up. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “People have bigger concerns on their mind than whether Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee.” Well, Scott Brown isn’t most people. He wants all of her job records from her career as a law professor. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* “We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage.” I don’t think “pro-marriage” means what you think it means. Last night, North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. [CNN]

* Mike McQueary is filing a whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State. Hate to say it, but that’s definitely not the first time Penn State’s seen a lawsuit over something being blown in the locker room. [Centre Daily Times]

* Washington University in St. Louis Law is launching an online LL.M. program for foreign lawyers for the low, low price of $48K. The exchange rate surely can’t be good enough for that to be worth it. [New York Times]

* Joran van der Sloot will likely be extradited to the United States from Peru this summer. His lawyer, Maximo Altez, isn’t a fan, because he thinks that we’ll charge his client with murder. America, f**k yeah! [ABC News]

* Oh, of course a member of the Village People’s claim just had to be the test case for 35-year copyright transfer termination. Well, kudos to you, Mr. Motorcycle Cop. You’re a real “Macho Man.” [Bloomberg]

It’s time to announce the winner of April’s Lawyer of the Month competition. While there were many worthy candidates presented for your consideration, only one of them is the subject of a possible criminal probe. Only one of them is the subject of an annotated work of art. Only one of them has been accused of leading a storied Biglaw firm down a path of devastation, destruction, and seemingly inevitable dissolution.

That said, let’s take a look at April’s Lawyer of the Month — the man, the myth, the legend — Steven Davis, former chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf….

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Last night, when we reported the news of secretarial staff layoffs at Dewey & LeBoeuf, we mentioned a prediction of additional layoffs today — i.e., Tuesday — or later in the week. That prediction has already come to pass — like so many predictions about Dewey, sadly.

Last night, they came for the secretaries. This time, they’ve come for the associates….

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I used to work at Debevoise & Plimpton. Before I interviewed with them, I learned that the firm was called Debevoise (rhymes with “noise”) and not Debevoise (rhymes with voire “boudoir”).

Not everybody who showed for interviews had that level of commitment. How embarrassing for them. At Debevoise, they’re a little touchy about the proper pronunciation of the firm’s name — and not just with potential recruits. Do you know how stupid you sound when you are sitting with a bunch of Biglaw New York lawyers and your roll out with “Debevoir” or “Curtis Mallet” (as in hammer)? You sound like an idiot. People will make fun of you when you go to the bathroom. I once heard a person pronounce Cravath like “cravat,” and it was so jarring that I swear that’s the only thing I remember about the person. If I saw him again, our mutual friend would have to pull me aside and say, “That’s the ‘cravat’ guy.”

There are services out there to help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes. You should put in a little bit of time before you head to New York, or D.C., or L.A., or anywhere where top lawyers are likely to be….

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The revolving door continues to spin, quite furiously, at the rapidly collapsing Dewey & LeBoeuf. We mentioned some of the latest partner departures in last night’s post (which we updated again this morning).

These are major defections, which strike at the heart of what was left of the firm. In case there was any doubt after last Friday’s WARN Act notice or yesterday’s big layoffs, it may soon be time to stick a fork in LeBoeuf.

So what’s the latest word on who is going where?

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The Snooki Defense

* Aw, come on, Mort, Dewey really have to pay you $61M? In case you missed it last night, the only thing that made the former vice chairman’s departure memo dramatic was the insane amount that he claims he’s owed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Congratulations to Jacqueline H. Nguyen on her confirmation to the Ninth Circuit. She’s the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appellate court, so she’s earned our judicial diva title (in a good way). You go girl! [Los Angeles Times]

* Google might’ve infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights, but a jury couldn’t decide if it constituted fair use. Sorry, Judge Alsup, but with that kind of a decision, you can bet your ass that there’ll be an appeal. [New York Times]

* A Harvard Law professor has come to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, claiming that an alleged affirmative action advantage played no role in her hiring. And besides, even if it did, it only played 1/32 of a role. [Boston Herald]

* Classes at Cooley Law’s Tampa Bay campus began last night. Unsurprisingly, the inaugural class is double the size originally projected, because everyone wants to attend the second-best school in the nation. [MLive]

* Albany Law will be having a three-day conference on the legal implications of the Civil War. This could be a little more exciting if presenters wore reenactment garb and did battle when it was over. [National Law Journal]

* Jury selection is underway in a second degree murder trial that will forever be known as the case where a defendant first raised the “Snooki Defense.” He didn’t kill his wife… but her spray tan did. [CBS Miami]

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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