Dewey & LeBoeuf
This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (May 2012)
|Headquarters||New York City|
|No. of offices||26|
|No. of attorneys||~1,050|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
|Dissolved||May 28, 2012 (bankruptcy)|
Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP was a global law firm, headquartered in New York City, that is now in bankruptcy. Some of the firm's leaders were indicted for fraud for their role in allegedly cooking the company's books to obtain loans while hiding the firm's financial plight. The firm was formed in 2007 through the merger of Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. Dewey & LeBoeuf was known for its corporate, insurance, litigation, tax, and restructuring practices. At the time of its bankruptcy filing, it employed over 1,000 lawyers in 26 offices around the world.
In 2012, the firm's financial difficulties and indebtedness became public. In the same period, many partners departed, and the Manhattan District Attorney's office began to investigate alleged false statements by firm chairman Steven Davis. As a result of these difficulties, Dewey & LeBoeuf's offices began to enter administration in May 2012. The firm filed for bankruptcy in New York on May 28, 2012.
As of September 2018, the following settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had been reached:
Steven Davis, former chairman, agreed to pay a $130,000 civil penalty;
Francis Canellas, ex-finance director, agreed to pay $43,178 in disgorgement and interest; and
Thomas Mullikin, former controller, agreed to pay $8,635.78 in disgorgement and interest costs.
The law firm that would be known for years as the Root Clark firm, and thereafter as Dewey Ballantine, began in 1909. In that year, three recent graduates of Harvard Law School, Grenville Clark, Francis W. Bird, and Elihu Root Jr., established a law partnership on Wall Street, named Root, Clark & Bird. Bird soon left the firm, and it became known as Root & Clark; family connections led to a thriving practice in high financial circles. In 1913, Root & Clark merged with the firm of Buckner & Howland, the practice of Emory R. Buckner and Silas W. Howland, to form Root, Clark, Buckner & Howland.
In 1919, Arthur A. Ballantine joined the firm, becoming a named partner in 1925. Also in 1925, Buckner left to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the firm was now known as Root, Clark, Howland & Ballantine.
During the Great Depression, the firm started focusing on bankruptcy and reorganizations. With the New Deal, it built a regulatory practice. The firm also had a corporate practice, serving clients such as AT&T and Standard Oil. The firm expanded from 8 to 74 associates and opened a second office in Washington, D.C.
In 1946, four Root, Clark partners, including George E. Cleary, Leo Gottlieb, Henry Friendly, and Melvin C. Steen departed and along with Hugh Cox and Fowler Hamilton founded Cleary, Gottlieb, Friendly & Cox, the predecessor of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
In 1955, politician Thomas E. Dewey became a partner at the firm, which was renamed Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood. Under Dewey and Ballantine's leadership, the firm attracted new clients, such as General Motors, Morgan Stanley, and Mobil Oil.
On October 1, 2007, Dewey Ballantine merged with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae
From its beginnings in 1929, LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae was known for its representation of energy and public utility companies, and from 1965, when it was selected as U.S. counsel for Lloyd's of London, it became a preeminent law firm advising insurance companies. It was this that led to the opening of the London office in 1978.
The firm was founded by Randall J. LeBoeuf Jr., who was born in Albany, New York, in 1897. While still in solo practice in 1929, LeBoeuf became general counsel to the Niagara Hudson Power Company and the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). As his workload increased, LeBoeuf recruited his friend Bill Winston from an Albany law firm to form the partnership LeBoeuf & Winston on October 7, 1929, just before the U.S. stock market collapsed. Within six months, the new partnership had established itself at 15 Broad Street, New York City, where it shared offices with Niagara Hudson Power.
Horace Lamb joined the partnership in 1934 to enhance its expertise in a wider variety of legal matters. Characterized as an aggressive litigator, Lamb came to the firm after working for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice as well as in private practice. Lamb soon became a named partner at the firm.
In 1952 Adrian C. Leiby, joined, bringing experience in corporate securities and finances. The firm was renamed LeBoeuf, Lamb & Leiby.
Anticipating the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission to regulate the new civilian use of fission plants, LeBoeuf opened its first branch office in 1952 in Washington, D.C. to help utilities license nuclear plants.
Cameron F. MacRae Jr., a top public utility lawyer, joined in 1958. In 1959, Randall LeBoeuf became the special assistant attorney general representing New York in a water rights dispute.
The firm lost three of its named partners in short succession in the 1970s: Randall LeBoeuf in 1975, Adrian Leiby in 1976, and Horace Lamb in 1977. Cameron MacRae, who had been formally installed as presiding partner in 1970, remained at the firm, which had become known as LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae.
The firm developed an ambitious growth strategy in the 1970s through the 1990s. As a result, it expanded to become an international law firm with offices not only in the U.S. but also in London, Paris, Moscow, Riyadh, Beijing, and Hong Kong. By early 2007, LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae had approximately 650 attorneys in 19 offices around the world. On October 1, 2007, the firm merged with Dewey Ballantine.
Financial difficulties and bankruptcy
Dewey & LeBoeuf originally reported a revenue increase for 2011 to $935 million, up 25 million from a reported figure of $910 million for 2010. In early 2012, Richard Shutran, a senior partner at the firm, admitted in interviews that the revenue numbers publicly reported used a "different" method acknowledging the controversy, stating, "They’re just not comparable numbers. That’s something people like to pick on."
This statement resulted in a downward revision of Dewey's revenue numbers over the previous two years in The American Lawyer. The firm then retained bankruptcy counsel, and began to consider a pre-packaged bankruptcy filing.
In conjunction with the financial problems, a large number of partners had been leaving in 2012. Of the approximate 1,100 lawyers in the firm, about 190 were considered equity partners. In 2012 through May 12, approximately 200 of the 300 total partners had left the firm.
On May 4, the firm sent "conditional advance notice" to all US employees under the Federal WARN Act that their employment may be terminated. The letter advised all employees of their rights under Federal and New York State law in the event of termination. The letter provided the firm's first formal acknowledgement to employees that the firm could ultimately close.
The five members of Dewey's office of the chairman committee left by mid-May. In bankruptcy, corporate restructuring company Zolfo Cooper managed the firm's New York office, and accounting firm BDO International administered the London office.
On August 18, 2014, the firm made a settlement worth $4.5 million for a class action suit alleging the firm laid off workers in the final days without the notice required under the New York state and federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Acts. There were no objections to the settlement since it was disseminated following the judge's preliminary approval in June 2014, according to the attorneys of the 425-member class and for the firm.
On October 19, 2015, following 21 days of deliberation, a deadlocked jury in Manhattan declared a mistrial in the case against three former senior attorneys, Steven H. Davis, Stephen DiCarmine, and Joel Sanders, who had been accused of conspiring to manipulate financial records with a purpose to defraud various financial institutions during the financial crisis. It is not clear if Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. will move for a retrial.
Recognition and awards
Before the firm's demise, Dewey & LeBoeuf was recognized as having some of the top practice groups and lawyers in the world:
- Chambers Global (2009 edition) ranked Dewey & LeBoeuf as a leader in 35 practice or sector categories, and named 37 of its lawyers as leading practitioners;
- Legal 500 US (2009 edition) ranked Dewey & LeBoeuf as a leading firm in 16 practice or sector categories, with 28 partners recognized as leaders in their area of practice; and
- Chambers USA (2009 edition) ranked Dewey & LeBoeuf as a leading firm in 29 practice or sector categories, with 56 partners recognized as leaders in their area of practice.
Pro bono activities
Dewey & LeBoeuf maintained a strong commitment to pro bono service, and its attorneys devoted tens of thousands of hours every year to public service projects around the world across a range of areas, including housing, civil rights, voting rights, education, criminal trials and appeals, entertainment and the arts, family law and domestic violence, immigration and asylum, not-for-profit and small business advice, and animal rights.
- In September 2009, Dewey & LeBoeuf agreed to act on a pro bono basis for Caster Semenya, the South African track athlete, to protect her civil and human rights in connection with the controversial gender testing to which she was subjected.
- A team headed by Dewey partners Jeffrey Kessler, Marco Consonni and David Feher represented, on a pro bono basis, Oscar Pistorius, a South African double amputee runner who was seeking to qualify for the 400 m event at the 2008 Summer Olympics, but was banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from participating.
Dewey & LeBoeuf valued diversity, seeing it as one of its core strengths. The Minority Corporate Counsel Association presented the firm with the Thomas L. Sager Award, in recognition of the firm's commitment to diversity in 2008 and 2009. The firm also received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's 2008 and 2009 Corporate Equality Index.
In September 2009, Dewey & LeBoeuf advised on two major M&A transactions. The firm played a leading role on Walt Disney's $4 billion cash and stock acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, a deal that gives Disney the rights to more than 5,000 Marvel characters, including Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. A team of Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyers also advised eBay in the company's agreement to sell a 65 percent stake of its Skype communications unit to a group of private investors, led by the Silicon Valley private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, in a deal valuing the business at $2.75 billion. The firm has also represented billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban against the Securities and Exchange Commission's accusations of insider trading.
This list primarily represents alumni of predecessor firms.
- Herbert Brownell Jr., Attorney General of the United States under President Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Emory Buckner, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and one of the architects of the modern Wall Street legal culture
- Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, general counsel of the United States Army and Chairman of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
- George E. Cleary, Leo Gottlieb and Melvin C. Steen, founding partners of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
- Thomas E. Dewey, noted prosecutor, Governor of New York (1943–1954) and twice Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency (1944 and 1948)
- Henry Friendly, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
- Lloyd K. Garrison, name partner of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
- John Marshall Harlan II, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- Frank Iacobucci, Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
- Richard Owen, U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Robert P. Patterson and Vanderbilt Webb, founding partners of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
- Francis T.P. Plimpton, founding partner of Debevoise & Plimpton
- Elihu Root Jr., founder. Son of Elihu Root noted American lawyer and statesman U.S. Secretary of State, United States Secretary of War, U.S. Senator from New York, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Marshall Skadden, Leslie Arps and John Slate, founding partners of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
- Charles Sifton, U.S. District Court Judge, Eastern District of New York
- Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee
- Lat, David (March 2, 2012). "Dewey Have Comment on Recent Developments? Yes — Firm Is Cutting 5 to 6 Percent of Personnel". Above the Law.
- "Fallen Law Firm's Leaders Are Charged With Fraud". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Neil, Martha. "Six More Dewey & LeBoeuf Partners Exit, Bringing Total Departure Tally in 2012 to 46". ABA Journal. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Pearson, Sophia. "Dewey Said to Be Subject of Probe as Deadline Nears". Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "Dewey Law Firm Cleanup Will Take Years", Linda Sandler and Sophia Pearson, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- "Dewey London to shut down this Friday", Joshua Freedman, The Lawyer, May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- Lattman, Peter (May 28, 2012). "Dewey & LeBoeuf Files for Bankruptcy". DealBook. The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- "FBI — Chairman, CFO, and Executive Director of Dewey & Leboeuf Indicted on Grand Larceny Fraud Charges". FBI.
- "Dewey Ballantine LLP History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- "Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- Young, Eric (2007-01-04). "Orrick dumps N.Y. merger plans". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- 2007-08-29T16:47:00+01:00. "LeBoeuf Lamb to merge with Dewey Ballantine". Global Reinsurance. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
- Twelve more Dewey & LeBoeuf partners jump ship, Reuters March 18, 2012
- Legal Industry News (2012). The American Lawyer Revises Dewey’s Reported Financial Figures Archived 2012-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
- The American Lawyer Revises Dewey’s Reported Financial Figures, April 3, 2012, The Wall Street Journal.
- Dewey Partners Get Pep Talk. March 21, 2012, The Wall Street Journal.
- Dewey 2010, 2011 Profits, Revenues Revised, Am Law Daily April 3, 2012
- Walder, Noeleen. "Dewey & LeBoeuf retains bankruptcy counsel, role unclear". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- LATTMAN, PETER (April 20, 2012). "Dewey & LeBoeuf Said to Consider Prepackaged Bankruptcy". The New York Times - Dealbook. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Triedman, Julie. "The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: Dewey & LeBoeuf Revenues, PPP Edge Higher". The AMLAW Daily. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Reuters (2012). The Dewey chronicles: The rise and fall of a legal giant. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
- Above the Law (2012). We Don’t Have Any Summer Associates, Dewey? (And additional info about a possible criminal probe.). Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- Lattman, Peter. "Dewey & LeBoeuf Said to Encourage Partners to Leave". The New York Times - Dealbook..
- Mystal, Elie (2012-05-04). "When Dewey WARN People?". Above the Law. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- "And Then There Were None: Dewey’s Landgraf Exits", Jennifer Smith, The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- Scurria, Andrew. "Dewey's $4.5M Worker Layoff Settlement Wins Final OK". Law 360. Portfolio Media, Inc. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
- "Mistrial is Declard Dewey & LeBoeuf Case". The New York Times - Dealbook. Retrieved 19 October 2015..
- "Oscar Pistorius Receives His Day In Court". Dewey LeBoeuf Website. 2008-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2008-04-05.