Business of Law

From 'Drip Torture' to Closure: Dewey Begins Laying Off Associates, Gives 1 Week Notice, WSJ Reports


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Even as a once-mighty law firm was disintegrating around them, many associates of Dewey & LeBoeuf heard nothing official about their own fate.

But that changed Tuesday as the law firm began laying off associates with one week of notice in a conference room meeting, reports the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. The article relies on information from an unidentified lawyer who attended the meeting and says other such meetings were expected later in the day.

“We are pretty happy to have some closure instead of this drip torture,” one associate told the blog. It says the terminated associates’ last day at the firm will be May 15.

An Above the Law post, based on anonymous tips, says those laid off were told associates will not get paid after May 15 and will get no severance.

The Lawyer reports that Dewey associates in London were told at a Tuesday lunch meeting they may not get paid after May 31. A law firm representative confirmed that it cannot offer “definitive assurance” that London associates will be paid after May 31.

Secretaries in the firm’s United States offices were told on Monday that Friday would be their last day of work, and the law firm last week sent out legally mandated WARN notices to U.S. employees that layoffs could be pending.

Well over 100 of the law firm’s partners, representing about one-third of the 300 or so on Dewey’s roster at the end of last year, have exited in 2012 and the firm recently told partners that they should not hesitate to look for jobs elsewhere.

Reuters puts the total number of partner departures so far in 2012 at “roughly 150.”

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Dewey Vice Chair Says Firm Owes Him $61M; Secretaries Told of Layoffs; Departures Pick Up”

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