Martin Bienenstock

‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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Last month, we provided you with detailed information about how much various former partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf earned in the last two years of the firm’s existence. We also reported on how much these partners were each being asked to pay into the “Partner Contribution Plan,” a global settlement that would provide these partners with releases from future Dewey-related liability.

At the time of that report, we didn’t know which partners decided to sign up for the PCP and which ones declined the offer. But now we do, thanks to a recent bankruptcy court filing by Dewey.

Dewey want to know the skinny? Of course we do….

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Behold the Monkey!

* Martin Bienenstock, Dewey’s former bankruptcy head, offered some free legal advice to the firm’s bankruptcy advisers: “[P]lease get real about the unfinished business claims.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* In other interesting Dewey news, you’re never going to guess what Steve DiCarmine’s been doing since the firm went under. He of the orange skin tone is making it work at Parsons. [Am Law Daily]

* Remember Kenechukwu Okoli, the guy who slapped a Paul Hastings partner in the face during a depo and then sued him for assault? Yup, that suit got dismissed. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* NerdWallet has created an online law school comparison tool, but users will only get to choose from 50 schools, none of which are in the so-called U.S. News second tier. Guess they don’t think Cooley is the second-best school in the country. How rude. [Bucks / New York Times]

* Cecilia Gimenez, the woman from Spain who accidentally turned a fresco of Christ into a portrait of a monkey, is now seeking royalties from funds the church levied as entrance fees to see her “work of art.” [Telegraph]

* Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for Michigan’s Supreme Court, has a simple tip for putting together the best judicial campaign video ever: all you need to do is reunite the cast of The West Wing. Check it out….

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Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for former partners of the bankrupt Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm to sign up for the “Partner Contribution Plan.” Under the terms of the Plan, which in its latest iteration seeks $90.4 million in “clawbacks” from ex-partners, participating partners would contribute specified amounts to the Dewey bankruptcy estate in exchange for releases from future liability (to the Dewey estate, to other participating partners, and to Dewey lenders, thanks to recent revisions to the PCP).

When talk of the Plan first surfaced, I opined that “[s]uch a deal sounds reasonable in principle.” I later observed that even if the PCP might not be perfect, “[i]f you’re a productive partner, happily ensconced at a new and stable firm, and just want to forget the D&L debacle and return to serving your clients, this deal may Dewey the trick.”

But now, after numerous revisions to the Plan, seemingly endless extensions of the deadline to join, and a still-insufficient amount of participation, I’m beginning to think that maybe it just won’t fly — and Dewey should just be allowed to die, i.e., slip into a straight-up liquidation. Perhaps Dewey’s bankruptcy advisers should stop trying to flog a product that nobody seems interested in buying.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): It looks like the Dewey estate’s perseverance has paid off. The $50 million participation threshold has been reached.

Here’s one good thing about the Partner Contribution Plan: thanks to the PCP, we now have detailed information about how much each of Dewey’s partners received from the firm in 2011 and 2012. And yes, we’re willing to share the data for the top earners with you, in spreadsheet form.

Some people are big believers in the virtues of black-box compensation. But here at Above the Law, we’re all about transparency….

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The ailing law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf is not long for this world. The only real question that remains is how Dewey’s death will take place. Will Dewey be pushed off the cliff, or will it jump?

We mentioned on Thursday that Dewey might be forced into bankruptcy by creditors, perhaps former partners concerned about their pensions. But now it seems that Dewey might do the deed itself.

Let’s hear the most recent reports — and look at the latest indicators that Dewey is done, including new signage outside 1301 Avenue of the Americas….

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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….

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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.)”

How... do you keep changing your race?

* Dewey seriously have one chairman again? Good Lord, this law firm is literally falling apart! Martin Bienenstock had “no plans to file bankruptcy” because he knew he was taking the first life raft off this sinking ship. [WSJ Law Blog]

* When Dewey WARN people? When it’s already too late. In case you missed it last night, the firm was served with its first suit following its en-masse layoffs. The more the merrier, because it’s a class action. [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren can’t decide whether she’s white or Native American. Apparently it depends on her geographic location, because she was white at UT Law, but a minority while at Penn Law. [Boston Globe]

* Racial profiling still ain’t easy, but Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “will fight this to the bitter end.” The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights suit against the no-nonsense Sheriff and his department. [Associated Press]

* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must be gearing up for his inevitable 2016 presidential run, because yesterday he vetoed an online insurance marketplace required by the Affordable Care Act. [New York Times]

* Syracuse Law recently broke ground on a $90M building that will serve as its new home. May political plagiarizers continue to grace the law school’s halls for years and years to come. [National Law Journal]

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

“Our catering service requires a credit card; client matter numbers no longer accepted. Seamless food ordering requires a credit card or a corporate card.”

“It’s not clear that we still have health insurance.”

“Dewey has cut off subscriptions, and expenses are no longer being reimbursed.”

“Everyone is pretty much packing up. Bankers boxes are on backorder in supplies.”

“Dewey is quietly removing the art from the walls. Perhaps it belongs to the creditors?”

These are some of the sad stories we’re hearing out of Dewey & LeBoeuf today. Let’s discuss the latest news and rumor coming out of the deeply troubled law firm….

Multiple UPDATES and new links, after the jump (at the very end of this post). The Dewey story is moving so quickly that we will do multiple updates to our existing posts instead of writing a new post every time there’s a little additional news to report. Otherwise half of the stories on our front page would be about Dewey, and there is other Biglaw news to report — e.g., the new profit-per-partner rankings from Am Law, salacious lawsuits against prominent D.C. law firms, etc.

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