Law Firms

Lawyers Describe 'Chaos' at Dewey, Where Some Partners Had Pay Packages Worth $5M a Year


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The mood at troubled law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf is grim, as lawyers spent the day Tuesday boxing up papers and backing up emails and contacts.

Lawyers described the situation as “chaos,” employees as “shellshocked” and the mood as “unbelievably difficult and stressful” in interviews with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the Am Law Daily. One person told Above the Law that even the art is being removed from the walls.

In more bad news on Tuesday, two lawyers discovered that their medical insurance was suspended because of nonpayment. A memo attributed the problem to an “administrative issue” and said coverage would be restored.

The law firm is struggling amid reports of a preliminary criminal investigation of the firm focusing on former chairman Steven Davis, who denies any wrongdoing. Davis has been criticized for giving big pay guarantees to lateral hires, creating a shortfall for other partners during the financial downturn.

According to the Times, several Dewey partners had pay packages worth more than $5 million a year, including M&A specialist Morton Pierce, corporate lawyer Michael Fitzgerald, and international law practitioner Berge Setrakian.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Top M&A Partner Exits Dewey & LeBoeuf for White & Case as Tally of 2012 Departed Partners Nears 100”

ABAJournal.com: “Dewey’s Jettisoned Summer Associates Ask Firms for Jobs They Rejected”

ABAJournal.com: “In Latest Memo, Dewey Encourages Its Partners to ‘Seek Out Alternative Opportunities’”

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