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In Latest Memo, Dewey Encourages Its Partners to ‘Seek Out Alternative Opportunities’

Posted May 1, 2012 7:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Dewey & LeBoeuf is loosening its hold on partners who have remained at the firm during a period of intense turmoil.

In an internal memo circulated Monday evening, the law firm told partners that they are encouraged to look for jobs, according to the New York Times DealBook blog, which obtained a copy. “All partners,” the memo said, “are encouraged to seek out alternative opportunities.”

The Am Law Daily casts the memo in another light. According to its source, the memo was intended to tell partners that they may pursue jobs with firms other than those in talks with Dewey without violating fiduciary duties. Dewey's merger talks with Greenberg Traurig have ended; the firm has also reportedly had discussions with Patton Boggs and SNR Denton.

The memo was issued as Dewey faces a quickening pace of lawyer departures and a preliminary criminal investigation said to focus on former chairman Steven Davis, who maintains he did nothing wrong. Nearly a dozen partners have left the firm in recent days. Reuters says 86 have left since the beginning of the year, while the Am Law Daily puts the number at a minimum of 83.

Meanwhile, Dewey & LeBoeuf’s London office has begun discussing a wind-down, Legal Week reports. Partners in the office appointed a “crisis management committee” and initiated contacts with bankruptcy lawyers. “Instead of deferring to the U.S.,” one partner told Legal Week, “we have to act as a U.K. partnership and wind down the office in an orderly fashion."

The leader of Dewey’s restructuring practice, Martin Bienenstock, told DealBook there are no plans to file a U.S. bankruptcy and “anyone who says differently doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

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