Stephen Dicarmine

We have written thousands upon thousands of words about Dewey & LeBoeuf this week — in fact, this day. Covering this sad but fast-moving story has been exciting and exhausting.

We’re tired. So let’s resort to pictures, as we have in the past, to tell the Dewey story….

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(Or: Dewey know what Steve DiCarmine looks like?)”

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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MCA

* I think I entirely agree with Eugene Volokh, who in turn agrees with the Eighth Circuit, which agreed with the lower court, that a school board is well within its rights to call a website unreliable. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Steve DiCarmine, the now-former executive director of Dewey & LeBoeuf, has retained counsel. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Rajat Gupta’s lawyers are applying a defense they must have learned in grade school. [Dealbreaker]

* Do brown people in Arizona who are legal immigrants get extra time off school to deal with being hassled by any cop who wants to “check their status”? Didn’t think so. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Apparently, courtroom fashion only matters if you are attractive. [Huffington Post]

* Pit bulls are the black people of dogs. [Legal Blog Watch]

* I assume insurance lawyers check people’s Facebook history as a regular matter of course. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* R.I.P. Adam Yauch. All you sucker MCs better recognize. [What About Clients?]

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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Over the weekend, we passed along some good news about Dewey & LeBoeuf. It appears that the firm has been given a new (even if temporary) lease on life by its lenders. Initial reports suggested that the firm was getting one week or maybe two in order to reach a new debt deal with its banks. It now appears, however, that the firm could be getting a more long-term extension, in the range of 90 to 120 days. The deal still needs to be finalized; keep your fingers crossed.

That’s the good news. Now, back to the bad news: more partner defections from Dewey….

Multiple UPDATES, after the jump.

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Thus far, the story of Dewey & LeBoeuf has been told primarily from the perspective of lawyers. On the whole, the coverage has been quite partner-focused, centered on which partners are defecting to which rival law firms. There has been some discussion, but not a huge amount, of the plight of associates.

There has been even less discussion of the support staff. But if Dewey goes under, staffers will also lose their jobs. And in this day and age of law firms slashing staff, secretaries and paralegals may have a harder time finding new positions than attorneys.

Here is one paralegal’s perspective on what’s going on at D&L….

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The rumor mill has been churning nonstop over the past week about Dewey & LeBoeuf. In our recent stories about the firm, we’ve discussed reports of financial difficulties, partner departures, and possible layoffs of lawyers and staff.

During this time, firm management has remained fairly tight-lipped. But earlier this evening — a Friday evening, of course — the firm broke its silence. Chairman Steven H. Davis sent out a firm-wide memo, acknowledging the rumors and confirming that yes, Dewey will be conducting some layoffs and engaging in other cost-cutting measures.

Let’s take a look at the memo….

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Yes — Firm Is Cutting 5 to 6 Percent of Personnel

The pace of law firm layoffs has apparently slowed to a crawl. We’ll go weeks between job losses at large law firms (that we know of). But, here and there, some people are still getting pushed out as firms retool for the new economy.

Sadly, legal secretaries at Dewey & LeBoeuf became the latest casualties of a layoff cycle that seems very close to its end. The firm-wide memo went out earlier today:

Beginning last week and concluding today the firm implemented a reduction in force impacting approximately 30 administrative staff positions in its Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., offices.

Nobody wants to be the last person KIA in a war, and nobody wants to be laid off at the tail end of a recession. Why did Dewey make the move this late (hopefully) in the recession?

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