Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP was a global law firm , headquartered in New York City , that's now in bankruptcy. The firm's leaders have been indicted for fraud for their role in allegedly cooking the company's books to obtain loans while hiding the firm's financial plight. [3] 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 the bankruptcy filing, it employed over 1,000 lawyers in 26 offices around the world. [4]

In 2012, the firm's financial difficulties and indebtedness became public. In the same period, a large number of partners departed, [5] and the Manhattan District Attorney's office began to investigate alleged false statements by firm chairman Steven Davis. [6] As a result of these difficulties, Dewey & LeBoeuf's offices began to enter administration in May 2012. [7] [8] The firm filed for bankruptcy in New York on May 28, 2012. [9]

On March 6, 2014, the former chairman, chief financial officer and the executive director of Dewey & LeBoeuf were indicted on charges of grand larceny by the Manhattan District Attorney. [10]


Dewey & LeBoeuf was created on October 1, 2007 through the combination of two venerable New York-based firms, Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae .

Dewey Ballantine

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 connexions led to a thriving practise in high financial circles. [11] In 1913, Root & Clark merged with the firm of Buckner & Howland, the practise of Emory R. Buckner and Silas W. Howland, to form Root, Clark, Buckner & Howland. [11]

In 1919, Arthur A. Ballantine joined the firm, fitting a named partner in 1925. [11] 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. [11]

During the Great Depression , the firm started focusing on bankruptcy and reorganizations. With the New Deal , it built a regulatory practice. The firm additionally had a corporate practice, serving clients like 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 . [11] [12]

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, like General Motors , Morgan Stanley , and Mobil Oil .

Dewey Ballantine attempted a merger with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe , which failed in early 2007. [13]

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 originally founded by Randall J. LeBoeuf, Jr., who was born in Albany, New York, in 1897. While still in solo practise 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 become a name 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 licence 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 additionally 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. [14] 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." [15]

This statement resulted in a downward revision of Dewey's revenue numbers over the previous two years in The American Lawyer . [16] [17] [18] The firm then retained bankruptcy counsel, [19] and began to consider a pre-packaged bankruptcy filing. [20]

In conjunction with the financial problems, a large number of partners had been leaving in 2012. Of the approximate 1100 lawyers in the firm, about 190 were considered equity partners. [21] In 2012 through May 12, approximately 200 of the 300 total partners had left the firm. [22]

On April 27, the firm announced that it would cancel its 2012 summer associate program. [3] On April 30, the firm's leadership advised partners to seek employment elsewhere. [3]

On May 4, the firm sent "conditional advance notice" to all US employees under the Federal WARN Act that their employment might 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. [3]

The five members of Dewey's office of the chairman committee left by mid-May. [3] In bankruptcy, corporate restructuring company Zolfo Cooper managed the firm's New York office, [7] and accounting firm BDO International administered the London office. [8]

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 after 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. [27]

On 19 October 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 throughout the financial crisis. It isn't clear if Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. , will move for a retrial. [3]

Recognition and awards

Before the firm's demise, Dewey & LeBoeuf was recognised as having a few of the top practise groups and lawyers in the world:

  • Chambers Global (2009 edition) ranked Dewey & LeBoeuf as a leader in 35 practise 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 practise or sector categories, with 28 partners recognised as leaders in their area of practice; and
  • Chambers USA (2009 edition) ranked Dewey & LeBoeuf as a leading firm in 29 practise or sector categories, with 56 partners recognised 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.


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 additionally received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign 's 2008 and 2009 Corporate Equality Index .

Notable cases

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 additionally 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 additionally represented billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban against the Securities and Exchange Commission 's accusations of insider trading.

Notable alumni

This list primarily represents alumni of predecessor firms.