Dewey encourages partners to jump ship

Management team sends a memo suggesting the remaining attorneys look elsewhere for employment, Steven Davis hires a criminal lawyer

It looks like the bitter end may be near for embattled New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf. The remaining four members of the firm’s new management team, following Steven Davis’ ouster over the weekend amid questions surrounding his conduct and a Manhattan district attorney’s office probe, sent a memo to its partners last night suggesting that they seek alternative employment.

Dewey’s outlook shifted from dingy to dismal over the weekend when talks with law firm Greenberg Traurig hit a wall. As a result, Dewey’s management team penned the memo, adding that they, too, were looking for new jobs and requested that the current partners keep them apprised of their job searches.

The memo came hot on the heels of news that 11 more Dewey partners packed up their desks yesterday to move on to more stable pastures. Among that group, partners Don Murray and Eric Blanchard will bring their capital markets experience to Covington & Burling, while Gary Boss and Howard Adler took their talents to Clifford Chance. Another pair of partners, Gordon Warnke and Joseph Pari, announced they will be heading across the pond to U.K. firm Linklaters. Gary Apfel also announced yesterday that he has joined Pepper Hamilton’s financial services group.

Yesterday’s exodus brings the running tally of departed partners to at least 81 since January, which is about 25 percent of the firm’s total partnership.

Dewey was facing a deadline yesterday to renegotiate a $100 million line of credit with a group of banks, which were considering whether or not to extend the deadline that already had been pushed back once, the Wall Street Journal reports. Additionally, the Journal says that a widespread evacuation of talent on this scale could breach loan covenants that lenders typically impose on law firms requiring them to maintain specific partner head counts.

Moving from possible doom to impending gloom, Dewey’s former chairman Steven Davis hired Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer attorney Barry Bohrer yesterday. According to sources, a group of Dewey partners fingered Davis, suggesting that District Attorney Cyrus Vance examine “financial irregularities” at the law firm. Immediately following the news, Dewey’s management team cut ties with Davis.

After he was removed, Davis emailed Dewey partners, expressing his deep regret about the floundering firm’s plight and assuring them that he had “not engaged in any misconduct,” the Journal reports.

The Journal adds that Davis said he was “saddened by the events of the last several days” and that all of his “decisions as chairman were made in good faith and in the firm’s best interest.”

Bohrer, a veteran white collar attorney, told the told the Journal: “Every action of Mr. Davis as Chair of the Firm was taken in good faith and in the best interests of the Firm. He is confident that fair-minded professionals will conclude that he engaged in no misconduct.”

For more on Dewey’s downfall, read:

N.Y. prosecutors probe Dewey & LeBoeuf, firm cuts ties with executive

Dewey & LeBoeuf plans to sublease executive floor

Dewey & LeBoeuf hires bankruptcy counsel

12 Dewey & LeBoeuf partners defect to Willkie Farr

Dewey & LeBoeuf overhauls management team amid more defections

Dewey & LeBoeuf loses 4 more lawyers

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