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Final Days at Dewey Recalled; Ex-Partners Probed
Charles Landgraf, one of just four lawyers who helped lead Dewey & LeBoeuf during its final days, said he was trying to create a new method of compensation for partners. Landgraf is an insurance lobbyist who joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter back in May. Landgraf said that the spread in compensation created a rift between the firm’s superstars and employees working in the trenches. Landgraf and other partners tried to create a new compensation plan earlier in the year that did not stick.
“The problem was there was a lot of built-up tension about the fact that we had a compensation schedule last year that exceeded the actual earnings, and that had been true for a couple years,” Landgraf said. “By the time we got serious about a new compensation schedule, people were beginning to leave. That created a cascade of departures. Probably if we had started that [process] earlier, a quarter earlier, maybe we would’ve been able to make it work. And if banks had settled on renewing the revolver, it would’ve settled partners’ anxieties.”
Partners who leaked information regarding an investigation into the firm’s former chairman for stopping a possible merger were also blamed by Landgraf. “It appeared that the press attention was sought by [partners who requested the probe], not the DA’s Office,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is probably no coincidence that on that weekend following the Friday press reports of the criminal investigation, all realistic hope of a large-scale combination with other law firms effectively ended.”
In other Dewey news, the chief restructuring officer for the firm has said that he is looking into claims against partners formerly from Dewey as well as their new firms. Joff Mitchell, the senior managing director at Zolfo Cooper, a restructuring firm, said that claims are not being investigated against former leaders from Dewey. Dewey has roughly $255 million in outstanding legal bills, according to Mitchell, who also said that other firms that hire Dewey partners and then collect payments for unfinished legal business could be targeted in this investigation.
“To the extent that we the estate have claims, we would like to settle those claims sooner rather than later,” Mitchell said in an interview recently. “So yes, we will pursue them, we will engage quickly with the successor firms with a view to settling those.”
The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf has hired a consultant that will be evaluating possible clawback claims filed against former partners who were issued payments after the firm became insolvent.