The leader at Dewey & LeBoeuf are frantically trying to save the sinking law firm but sources from inside and outside the firm claim that the firm will close no later than May 15. In response to these rumors, a spokesperson from Dewey said the following:
“There is no plan to shut the firm down on May 15.”
The rumors about the eventual closing of the firm are strengthened by the news that the mailroom and photocopy services at the firm’s headquarters at 1301 Avenue of the Americas are no longer available to employees. Other news includes the fact that food orders can no longer be charged to client accounts. An unnamed secretary from the firm said that Dewey is not a ‘fully functional law firm’ anymore. The secretary said that the staff has yet to receive layoff notices and that employees receive the majority of the information about the firm from the media.
The firm has gotten rid of close to 100 partners since the calendar year flipped to 2012 as it faces increasing debt problems that amount to $75 million due to banks and an added $150 million due from a bond in 2010. The law firms of SNR Denton and Greenberg Traurig have announced that they have stopped negotiating with Dewey for a possible deal to take on employees. It is required by federal law that employees are given 60 days notice before a company lays off over 100 employees. This law comes under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act of 1988. Dewey has yet to file a WARN notice with the Department of Labor in New York State.
The firm has been granted an extension of two weeks by its lenders so it can seek to renegotiate its debt. The co-chair of Outten & Golden’s WARN practice, Jack Raisner, said that Dewey employees have contacted him about the situation taking place at Dewey. Raisner did not mention if lawsuits would be filed on behalf of the employees at Dewey regarding WARN. It is unknown if the partnership at Dewey will have to place a formal vote in order to dissolve. If Dewey was to dissolve, it could come in the form of a vote, an executive order handed down by senior partners or that a clause in the firm’s partnership agreement that says a bankruptcy or the departure of a large number of partners could cause the dissolution. Earlier this week, Morton Pierce, the former chair of the Dewey Ballantine firm, left for White & Case. He left with seven partners. A group of three partners in London left for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius this week as well.