Vice Chair Morton Pierce Leaves Dewey
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According to media sources, the last count of Dewey lawyers leaving the firm has crossed hundred. The previously reported extension from the bank syndicate did not work out to a three-month extension, but a respite extension of only two weeks. After 26 years of service at the law firm, Vice Chair Morton Pierce leaves Dewey to join White & Case. The question is who to blame, and the public opinion is that the Steves (Steve Davis and Steve DiCarmine) did in Dewey, more than anyone else.

While those criticizing Davis and DiCarmine are hardly unbiased, the reports do indicate gross personal indulgence which was allowed to continue unrestrained by the executive committee.

The recent roll call at Dewey finds Ira White absent, having joined Jones Day. In London Nabil Khodadad has left for Vincent & Elkins and Julio Castro joined KPMG. But the news that confirms the demise of Dewey that one of the biggest rainmakers of Dewey, Morton Pierce has departed for White & Case.


Morton Pierce was the former chair of the original Dewey Ballantine (before the merger). He left along with seven other partners including Denise Cerasini who would also be moving to White & Case. Pierce told the media, “I’ve 26 great years at Dewey … It’s been a great place for me. It’s a very sad day for me to leave the firm and to leave behind a lot of great people.” But, he said, “what’s happening at the firm that you can read about in the papers and the blogs daily.”

Pierce’s contract with Dewey had assured him of $5-6 million annually. When he is leaving, you know what that means. Pierce has an estimated $60 million book of business.

While extending financial guarantees that did in Dewey was not a practice at the firm, Steve Davis had been using financial guarantees from 2004 in his previous firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae with success. In 2004, Davis succeeded to hire Ralph Ferrara by a guarantee of $2 million to $3 million for three years. After the merger and formation Dewey & LeBouef, Davis continued with his strategy of offering guarantees to acquire rainmakers without depending upon performance.

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The strategy cost the firm dear, because it was close to impossible to perform during the height of the recession, and the new firm launched in 2007 had little hope to keep maintaining the guarantees without proportionate performance.



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