Energy

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.

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(Plus an actual lawsuit, a possible lawsuit, and a partner’s theory of blame.)”

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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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?

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(Plus more about Dewey’s loan covenants.)”

Last week, we discussed the effort by Dewey & LeBoeuf to hold on to departing partners by enforcing its 60-day notice requirement. Partners that leave without complying with the requirement can miss out on profit distributions.

Alas, the response of many partners seems to be, “So what?” Yesterday brought word of about eight partners leaving Dewey. And since our story this morning about Dewey’s tax-time troubles, even more defections have been announced.

So who are the latest lawyers to leave, and where are they going?

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Gainful employment nine months after graduation, FTW.

We cover the gloom-and-doom in the legal job market quite well here at Above the Law. But there are happy stories out there too — and not just for the top graduates of top law schools.

This is the story of Fred (not his real name; he asked to remain anonymous). Fred graduated in 2011 from a well-ranked but not super-elite law school — a top 50 school, but not a top three, top six, or even “T14″ school. He was not at the top of the class, nor was he on the law review. Many of Fred’s similarly situated classmates are unemployed or underemployed, drifting from one contract-attorney or paralegal-type job to another.

Fred is much better off than many of them. He has a job that he enjoys. He works for two weeks, followed by two weeks of vacation. He makes somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 a year, with the exact amount depending on how much he wants to work. And if things go according to plan, in a few years he could be earning $250,000 a year (or more).

Right now some of you are dying to know: What does Fred do, and how can I get this job?

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Yesterday Elie offered some predictions for 2012. I’ll get even more specific and offer a prediction for January 2012: energy lawyers will be making moves this month.

January is generally a popular time for partner moves, and energy lawyers are popular people. Right now their practice area is as hot as New York City is cold. As you may recall, this time last year a slew of energy attorneys moved from McDermott to Cadwalader.

We’ve recently received word that at least two prominent partners in the energy space are switching firms. Let’s find out who they are and where they are heading….

UPDATE (2:30 PM): After the jump, we’ve added an update with additional context, details, and partner names. A source states that five partners are leaving and that the departures constitute a major move — a much bigger deal than our original report might have suggested.

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Sometimes lawyers at Cadwalader are the victims of theft. And sometimes they’re the ones doing the stealing.

Here’s the promised follow-up to yesterday’s post about Cadwalader’s successful raid on the energy law practice of McDermott Will & Emery. It’s big news in Biglaw. As of now, nine partners are moving — Paul Pantano, Karen Dewis, Greg Lawrence, Greg Mocek, Tony Mansfield, Ken Irvin, Rob Stephens, Daryl Rice and Doron Ezickson — but if they’re followed by associates, a few dozen lawyers could be involved.

In an email sent out on Wednesday by MWE leaders Jeff Stone and Peter Sacripanti, reprinted in full after the jump, McDermott tried to minimize the losses. Stone and Sacripanti pointed out that “[t]his group of partners focused mainly on one aspect of our overall energy practice, which was commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients,” and that “the departing partners’ total collections in 2010 amounted to about three percent of overall firm revenue.”

Still, three percent of total MWE revenue is nothing to scoff at. In 2009, McDermott had total revenue of $829 million, according to the American Lawyer. Assuming that 2010 revenue is similar (the Am Law numbers aren’t out yet), three percent amounts to $24.87 million. Dividing that out over nine partners yields revenue per partner of about $2.8 million — not a bad book of business.

Let’s check out some reader views on this news….

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Ted Cruz

A new year, a new job. That seems to be the thinking of many within the legal profession, based on the proliferation of professional moves we have to report (and not just out of Howrey).

We’ll start with one move that’s aspirational rather than actual. Legal and political superstar Ted Cruz — the Morgan Lewis partner who heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and who was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years — will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the good senatrix Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Check out the announcement on his website, or read this BLT post.

Like many lawyers turned politicians, including our current president, the 40-year-old Cruz is a Harvard Law grad (and one of The Elect — Rehnquist / OT 1996). Graduates of HLS’s rival to the south, Yale Law School, tend to take more quirky paths.

Yul Kwon

That brings us to the second move of the day. YLS grad Yul Kwon — a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor, and one of People’s “sexiest men alive” (in 2006) — has left the Federal Communications Commission. Kwon served as deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the Commission.

Instead of working at the FCC, Kwon, 35, will be regulated by it: he’s going to be the host of a new television series on PBS, America Revealed (which sounds pretty cool). Read more from the FCC (press release), Bloomberg, and the Washington Post.

More moves — a Cravath partner’s jump over to Wall Street, and the defection of many McDermott energy lawyers to Cadwalader — after the jump.

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(Including the energy lawyers going from MWE to CWT.)

Article II, meet Article III. Hope you enjoy the pwnage. CNN reports:

A federal judge has blocked a six-month federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Several dozen plaintiffs had sued the Obama administration, arguing the ban would create long-term economic harm to their businesses.

Well, think of it this way: the chances of another one of these rigs exploding and creating an environmental catastrophe that is beyond our ability to fix is like really, really small…

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