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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Manhattan DA Vance Examining Top Legal Wrongdoing

New York Prosecutors Examining Former Dewey Chairman
The New York Times by Peter Lattman  -  April 27, 2012

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating accusations of wrongdoing by Steven H. Davis, the former chairman of the troubled law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, the firm said on Friday.  Dewey acknowledged the investigation in an internal memorandum sent to its partners. The firm said that it has asked two of the firm’s partners to conduct its own internal investigation into the accusations.  A group of Dewey partners presented evidence to the district attorney about supposed financial improprieties by Mr. Davis, leading the office to open an investigation. The inquiry is said to be in its early stages and Dewey is fully cooperating with the criminal inquiry, the firm said.  Mr. Davis did not return telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.  News of the district attorney’s investigation comes as the firm fights for its survival amid an accelerating wave of partner defections. About 75 of its 300 partners have left the firm since January after a weak financial performance forced management to slash partners’ salaries, many of which had been previously guaranteed.  On top of the partner departures, Dewey is struggling under the weight of a heavy debt load. The firm is locked in negotiations with its banks to restructure the debt. In addition to a $100 million credit line with its banks, it also has a $125 million bond issue, some of which matures next year.  The banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and HSBC — have given the firm until Monday to come up with a reorganization plan. That deadline, already extended once, could be further delayed, according to people in the discussions.  Dewey has been exploring a prearranged bankruptcy filing in which the firm would reach an agreement with its lenders over a restructuring while striking a merger with another firm.  Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s largest law firms with more than 1,700 lawyers, has contemplated a possible merger with Dewey, and has also looked to “cherry pick” certain groups of Dewey lawyers. On Friday, though, Greenberg issued a statement suggesting that a merger deal was unlikely.  “We have a great deal of respect for Dewey LeBoeuf and many of their quality lawyers,” Greenberg said. “While we have had preliminary discussions relating to some of its lawyers, there are no commitments nor agreements and we are not involved in the firm’s financial situation or relationships.”  On Friday, Dewey told its partners that in light of the district attorney’s investigation, it had asked Harvey Kurzweil and Seth Farber, as counsel to the firm, to conduct an internal investigation into these accusations. Mr. Kurzweil is a veteran litigator who joined Dewey Ballantine directly out of law school in 1969. Mr. Farber, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, practices white-collar criminal defense.  Dewey & LeBoeuf was formed in 2007 after the merger of two old-line law firms Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & McRae. It created one of the largest law firms in New York, with more than 1,000 lawyers in 25 offices around the globe.  Dewey’s namesake is Thomas E. Dewey, the three-term New York governor who also served as the Manhattan district attorney.  News of the investigation had earlier been reported by Law360.


Anonymous said...

Good for him. It's about time. The legal community needs a REALLY BIG SHAKE UP.

Anonymous said...

Cyrus Vance has done a lot of good things. He's had a ton of garbage to deal with, most of which includes the politics of those who work for him and who are NOT loyal.

Pox on them all said...

Hire the big law firm which can't handle its own finances and its own internal corruption. They cheat each other and the banks, but they won't cheat you. Just the chickens coming home to roost with some more NY lawyers. Vance's job is to minimize the damage and find a scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence of internal corruption. What we have here is a very small group of greedy, disgruntled partners who are trying to bring down Steve Davis. Some of them probably want his job and are trying to force him out. I knew Steve Davis back when he was a mid-level associate at LeBoeuf. He ALWAYS considered the interests of others over his own. Why don't you let the investigative process run its course, rather than spouting these hurtful, inane comments which only highlight your own ignorance and prejudices?

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