On Tuesday, associates were called to a multipurpose room at Dewey & LeBoeuf and told that next Tuesday would be their last day in office. It is also reported that on Monday, legal secretaries at the firm were told that they are losing their jobs by Friday. The meeting on Tuesday afternoon was the first concrete communication from Dewey to its associates.
While partners were leaving and were being told to seek alternatives, no one cared about the associates and in fact they were asked to focus on their work rather than on rumors, while essential services like the mailroom and copying services closed down. Car services for late night ferry to home were also stopped. What did not stop was the grinding of associates. At least now they know officially. As one associate told the media, “We are pretty happy to have some closure instead of this drip torture.”
The syndicate of banks led by JP Morgan Chase that had lent about $75 million to Dewey has taken over the control of the firm’s expenses and the firm has up to May 15 to structure and pull off a deal to save the situation.
Spokesmen for Dewey & LeBoeuf who had been consistently saying after every partner departure that such departures were according to company plans and would not have any impact on the company refused to respond to media.
The firm has already lost more than 120 lawyers with large defections almost each day. Recently, Morton Pierce who had headed Dewey Ballantine before the merger also left the firm to join White & Case.
The fall of Dewey & LeBoeuf is been seen by analysts as an example of what happens when law firms continue to depend upon external debts from non-lawyer origins rather than directly allowing non-lawyer investment to strengthen firm structure and objectives.