Dewey & LeBoeuf Seeks Change in Leadership
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The excessively high exodus of partners and mounting debts has ultimately caused Dewey & LeBoeuf to draw up and announce a fresh management structure. The partners are expected to vote within the next seven days to change the firm’s governance from a single chairman to a five-member office.

The expected members of the new governing board would be the current chairman, Steve Davis, Martin Bienenstock, chairman of the business solutions and governance; Jeffrey Kessler, chairman of the global litigation practice; Charles Landgraf, chairman of the legislative and public policy practice; and Rich Shutran, chairman of the corporate department and global finance group.

A memo to the effect has been circulated to partners on Monday evening.


According to the memo, the current chairman, Steve Davis is expected to relocate to London and focus his practice on energy and utilities.

It is remarkable that the firm, known for its flourishing insurance practice has no member on the five-member proposed board focusing solely on that area of practice. It is almost as if no one is left to fill the shoes of those who left.

Last month, the co-leader of the insurance practice went to DLA Piper, while six other insurance and tax partners went to Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. While Dewey leaders continue to tell the media that the exodus of partners has no impact on the firm, the insides are visibly shaken up.

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Continue to endorse their stance of ‘keeping face’ the memo mentioned “2012 is off to a terrific start” adding that the revenue in January and February was up by 28% compared to the same period in last year. The memo also mentioned that the 12-month period ending Feb 29 was up by 6.1% compared with the same period last year.

Dewey faces an unusually high debt of $125 million and has been deferring partner payments for long. The new proposed board did not include two expected faces – vice chairman Morton Pierce, head of the mergers and acquisitions practice, and Ralph Ferrara a top mergers and acquisition lawyer of Washington.

Pierce declined to comment over the memo to the media and said “I’m here at Dewey, I’m at my desk, and I’m working away.”

Pierce is known to have been trying to shift from the firm in a lateral move for the last 25 years, but has yet failed to find an acceptable deal.


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