Steven Davis

How would you like to be pursued by the Angel of Death? It doesn’t sound like much fun, right?

But it’s the latest plague to be visited upon certain former leaders of the now-bankrupt law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Former D&L partner Henry C. Bunsow — nicknamed the Angel of Death by Alison Frankel of Thomson Reuters, due to his status as an ex-partner of three failed firms (Brobeck, Howrey, and Dewey) — has sued former leaders of Dewey, alleging that they misrepresented the firm’s finances.

Let’s learn about his allegations, as well as catch up on the latest wranglings in the Dewey bankruptcy case….

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The bankruptcy case of the dying Dewey & LeBoeuf rolls on. As we mentioned yesterday, other Biglaw firms are getting business out of its burial. For example, Brown Rudnick is representing the official committee of unsecured creditors, and Kasowitz Benson is representing the official committee of retired D&L partners. (This group is separate from the 60 or so ex-partners who have hired Mark Zauderer to fight potential clawback lawsuits and other claims that the Dewey estate might bring against former partners and their new firms.)

If asked to name people who might be worried about owing money to the Dewey estate, some observers might cite “the Steves”: former chairman Steven H. Davis, and former executive director Stephen DiCarmine. Some have accused the Steves of mismanaging D&L’s affairs (or worse), contributing to the collapse of a firm that was once in the top 30 U.S. law firms by total revenue.

But if you’re thinking that Steve DiCarmine wants to pay the Dewey estate some money and get on with his tanning life, think again. As it turns out, Steve DiCarmine is claiming that Dewey owes him money….

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(Plus pictures of his former office.)

The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf now finds itself in Chapter 11, but the story of Dewey has not yet reached its end. We’ll now turn the pages in the Bankruptcy Reporter.

Yesterday Judge Martin Glenn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court allowed Dewey to use cash collateral to fund its wind-down operations, even though this collateral should really be seen as belonging to the firm’s secured creditors. Judge Glenn initially denied this request, at least when it was coupled with giving the secured creditors a lien on recoveries from future litigation. In deciding to let Dewey tap into the cash, Judge Glenn did not decide what the lenders might get in exchange for letting the firm use their money. That will be decided later, at a June 13 hearing.

With things quieting down on the Dewey news front, let’s turn to analysis. Here are some insights into what brought Dewey down and what other firms can learn from its fall, from a former managing partner who now works as a consultant to the legal industry….

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As we roll into the Memorial Day weekend, things are fairly quiet on the Dewey front. There’s not much news to report.

As we previously mentioned, some former partners are hiring counsel to defend them against possible clawback claims. And the ranks of ex-partners continue to grow: some nine Dewey partners, led by New York-based transactional attorney Elizabeth Powers, have moved over to Duane Morris, along with three counsel and four associates (so 16 lawyers in all).

What else can we report about Dewey? Oh yes, the winner of our meme contest….

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(Plus some news updates.)”

Last week, we asked for your entries in our Dewey & LeBoeuf Meme Contest.

There were many excellent submissions. Let’s review and vote on the eight finalists….

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Let’s talk about two of our favorite topics here at Above the Law: Dewey & LeBoeuf and real estate. They’re two great tastes that go great together.

There’s certainly news on both of these fronts. In Washington, for example, the firm is facing an eviction lawsuit. Dewey’s D.C. landlord, Property Group Partners, claims that the firm hasn’t paid $927,052 in rent on its 140,000 square feet of space.

In New York, home of Dewey’s headquarters at 1301 Avenue of the Americas, there’s bad news too. The Ben Benson’s steakhouse in the building, which was something of a company canteen for Dewey, is closing next month. Said a source: “Could it be that the building is cursed, ever since JC Penney moved out decades ago?”

Near the top of the 45-floor building, the office of Steven H. Davis, Dewey’s ex-chairman, is also getting packed up. This space, described to us as the “Taj Mahal” of law offices, is not what it once was.

Dewey have pictures? Most certainly….

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If you’re looking for the latest news on the imploding law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf, check out Morning Docket. There are links about the ongoing criminal probe, an updated WARN Act notice, the firm’s claim that it is not “officially closed,” and a possible involuntary bankruptcy.

It might make sense for certain creditors to push the firm into bankruptcy, since under the status quo — i.e., the firm effectively liquidating itself outside of court — it’s not clear that similarly situated creditors are being treated equally. At the very least, there’s a lack of transparency, as bankruptcy lawyer Annette Jarvis of Dorsey & Whitney pointed out to Thomson Reuters. Jarvis represents one group of creditors that might be getting the short end of the stick: 51 retired partners from predecessor firm LeBoeuf Lamb, whose pensions could be in jeopardy.

As we’ve done in the past, let’s try to find some light amid the darkness. As one victim of the Dewey debacle told us, “Sometimes after you’re done crying about something, the best medicine is laughter.”

We agree. So, Dewey have a meme contest for you? Of course we do!

Keep reading for some sample Dewey memes, as well as the contest rules….

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John Edwards

* What information Dewey know about the ongoing criminal investigation that’s being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office? From the sound of it, ex-chairman Steven Davis’s LeBoeuf may be cooked. [Am Law Daily (reg. req.)]

* Dewey know when to admit defeat? A spokesman for the failing firm has insisted that it’s “not formally closed.” Great, because that’ll certainly make it easier to prepare for the involuntary bankruptcy filing that’s in the works. [Reuters]

* Meanwhile, D&L amended its WARN notice with the New York State Department of Labor to raise its total employee count by 100, for a grand total of 533 — 433 of whom have been laid off thus far. [Bloomberg]

* “The defense wasn’t sexy, but the defense doesn’t want sexy. It wants an acquittal.” John Edwards’s legal team rested its case yesterday without calling any of the major players involved to testify. [Associated Press]

* Show me your papers: the California Supreme Court will be deciding whether a law license should be granted to an illegal immigrant who’s already been certified by the State Bar of California. [Los Angeles Times]

* Thank you, Jesus! Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law now has an additional $4M in its collection plate to put toward a new building thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [National Law Journal]

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been in touch with dozens of people affected by the downfall of Dewey & LeBoeuf. In terms of reactions, two emotions have predominated: sadness at what has happened to a once-great law firm, and anger towards those viewed as blameworthy.

But there have been other responses as well, of a more odd nature. Here are two illustrative, somewhat amusing stories….

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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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