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Monday, May 28, 2012

Dewey & LeBoeuf Goes Bankrupt

The storied New York law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday evening, May 27th.

The firm, formed in 2007 when Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & Macrae merged, had been beset in recent years by overcommitments to certain rainmaker partners in the form of guaranteed contracts.  A former federal judge characterized the bankruptcy filing as "unprecedented."

The firm's demise further escalates a shift in the law firm economic paradigm, where mere technical competence is hardly a guarantee of a good salary -- regardless of experience level -- and where significant business generation is a requirement for any degree of job security as a lawyer.  All other support staff, on the other hand, have much more job security than the "professionals" whose legal services are the essence of the institution. 

It is a good reason to consider the merits of hiring independent lawyers who run their own solo or boutique practices and provide top legal counsel at rates which are a fraction of what the "megafirms" charge.

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