Steven Davis was in charge of LeBoeuf & Lamb prior to its merger in 2007 with Dewey Ballantine. During this time he had to deal with an attack on his leadership. The corporate department co-chairs of LeBoeuf, Alexander Dye and John Schwolsky, were attempting to replace Davis after he said the firm should merge with another firm. The two lawyers were confronted by Davis when he sent them internal emails they wrote, which forced them out of their positions of management.
In early 2012, the demoted lawyers took a team of 12 people from Dewey. This was one of the first defections from the firm that caused a snowball effect on Dewey. When interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Dewey partner Martin Bienenstock said the following: “The loss of the practice wasn’t that big a deal,” Bienenstock said, “but it was an optical and emotional hit, and it was magnified in the press. It led to some other groups deciding to leave, and that’s really what triggered the formation of the office of the chair and everything we’ve done.”
Bienenstock became a member of a four-person management team to lead the firm this year when the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan began an investigation into Davis. Davis claims he has not done anything wrong. Davis revealed that he is gay in 2001 after a marriage of 24 years. Davis has been involved in a relationship with a man for 10 years.
The pay range for partners at Dewey ranged from $300,000 to $10 million per year. A partner who worked a case made $300,000 and a partner who was a rainmaker made $10 million per year. According to a story from DealBook, Davis “was the driving force behind a series of moves that sowed the seeds of the firm’s demise. He pushed the star-crossed merger in 2007 that created Dewey & LeBoeuf, a behemoth with 1,400 lawyers. He also charted a rapid expansion fueled in part by heavy borrowing, overextended the firm by handing out lavish pay guarantees and oversaw a corrosive partnership culture of haves and have-nots.”