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Dewey & LeBoeuf Loses 12 Partners to Willkie Farr & Gallagher
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Dewey lawyers are scurrying like rats leaving a sinking ship. With another 19 partners having already jumped ship within the last three months, the recent exodus brings the tally up to 31 partners leaving Dewey while the year is still young.

Dewey & LeBoeuf was originally set up in 2007 by merging Dewey Ballantine with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. The firm, known to operate in 25 locations with an army of more than 1000 attorneys has been suffering recent setbacks and thinning ranks.

According to a recent New York Times report, the situation has been aggravated by the firm holding back and deferring the payments of tens of millions of dollars to its partners and reducing compensation to staff. This new practice which is justified by the firm is supposed to be an attempt to manage a shortfall following sky-high pay guarantees to new recruits.

  
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The firm explained away the recent departures by saying that these were measures by the firm to improve its performance. A spokesman for Dewey, Angelo Kakolyris told the media, “The firm is undertaking a number of measures to increase its profitability … The firm is managing itself prudently.”

That may be so, but it still does little to justify the mass exodus of skilled legal personnel who have sufficient industry standing to have others waiting for them with open arms.

The co-chairman of Wilkie, Thomas Cerabino, told the media that “We have worked closely with this team in a number of transactions over the years.”

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Other notable partners who left Dewey this year include well-known finance attorney John Cobb, who joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York, as a partner in the firm’s capital markets practice.

The Dewey spokesperson, Kakolyris said that the moves have a “neutral financial impact” on the firm and would reduce the firm’s revenues roughly by $22 million in 2012.



With the characteristic politeness and diplomacy found in legal circles, one of the exiting lawyers, Alexander Dye told the media that the lawyers’ group saw the future in Wilkie: “We see terrific synergies with the firm’s world-class private equity, M&A and asset management practices, as well as its long-established and substantial insurance practice.”



 

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