Business of Law

Reuters: As Dewey Downsizes, Smaller Law Firm's Prepack May Be Roadmap for Solid Future

Amidst news from the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) that Dewey & LeBoeuf is not only seeking to lease 160,000 square feet of space in its New York headquarters but is putting its executive floor on the sublease market, as well as reports that well-known law firms are in discussions with teams of partners in the firm’s London and Russia offices, comes a suggestion from Reuters.

A prepackaged bankruptcy of a smaller law firm in Florida, believed to be the first such successful effort of its kind, could offer a road map for the disintegrating law firm’s long-term survival as it struggles to deal with more than 70 partner departures in 2012. Ruden McClosky, which was based in Ft. Lauderdale,

Although Dewey has indicated that some of the exits were part of a planned reconfiguration effort, they amount to approximately 20 percent of the approximately 1,000-attorney law firm’s partner roster. It has also acknowledged that it is considering a prepackaged bankruptcy in conjunction with a possible merger with Greenberg Traurig.

Such a merger is being discussed, on a preliminary basis, but has not been agreed upon. However, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reported that top partners at the 1,700-attorney Greenberg Traurig reached out by phone over the weekend to talk with counterparts at Dewey.

In the case of Ruden McClosky, the prepack put the firm’s bankruptcy on a fast track and let it keep its lawyers and clients together, albeit under another firm’s name, recounts Reuters.

“The alternative would have been the implosion of the firm and years of costly wrangling,” the news agency writes. “As it turns out, midsize Florida firm Greenspoon Marder bought Ruden in December for $7.8 million in cash and debt. Creditors got paid, and about 130 jobs were saved.”

Related coverage: “Ruden McClosky Closes 3 Offices, Says in Email ‘Things are Clearly Moving in the Right Direction’” “Ruden McClosky Files for Bankruptcy; Greenspoon Marder Seeks Assets, Plans to Hire About 50 Lawyers” “Reports: As Dewey & LeBoeuf Refocuses on US, Multiple International Offices Mull Options”

Legal Week: “Akin Gump in talks to take on team of Dewey partners in London”

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