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Adieu-y & Leboeuf

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/05/12

Like sad children in socks dismounting a deflating bouncy castle at the end of a fun party, like a cold tub of fries spilling into the bin after a busy lunch shift at McDonald's, like tired grandmas being driven home in silence after a lacklustre Thanksgiving meal. Sorry, excuse us, apologies: we were just trying to come up with slightly more positive analogies for the partner clear out at Dewey & Leboeuf than the one about "rats" and "a sinking ship".

Whichever way you spin it, things aren't looking good for the New York law firm. Disputes over compensation and towering debts have left the once 1,000-strong company on its knees, while a well trodden path out of the firm has seen almost every partner and the entirety of its crisis leadership team defect. May has seen 103 of the 182 departures heralded since the start of the year, with the Wall Street Journal reporting rival firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (15 partners), DLA Piper (14 partners) and Willkie Farr & Gallagher (12 partners) benefitting most from the collapse. Meanwhile, some unlucky lot have hired members of a crisis leadership team whose first action in a crisis is to leave the company, en mass, with immediate effect.

"There were several things that led to problems that led to the result we had," said Dewey office of the chairman member, bankruptcy specialist and chief underwhelmist, Martin Bienenstock. "Between [a] $30 million revenue shortfall and the $25 million of unavailable credit, we were looking at a working capital contraction of $55 million. This is why people weren't paid."

Find out more about the Partner & Team moves division at Laurence Simons