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….
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.
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….
* 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….
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….
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….
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….
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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