Dewey And LeBoeuf And The Woes Of The Legal Industry

We look at the business of law in trouble and the crumbling of the venerable New York firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Venus De Milo sculpture in front of the Calyon building in Manhattan, home of the Dewey & Laboeuf LLP headquarters. (Courtesy Michelle Verdugo)

Venus De Milo sculpture in front of the Calyon building in Manhattan, home of the Dewey & Laboeuf LLP headquarters. (Courtesy Michelle Verdugo)

For years, we’ve watched giants of American industry fall down and wondered where it would end.  Well, the law is an industry too.  Law firms.  The legal profession.  The business of law.

And this week one of the biggest law firms in the country – the world – Dewey & LeBoeuf, out of New York, is flying apart in spectacular fashion.  Millionaire partners fleeing.  Meltdown.  And a whole industry, from law schools to lone lawyers, wondering what comes now.

This hour, On Point:  the business of law, in trouble.  Plus, we check in on the U.S.-China deal over blind, “barefoot lawyer” Chen Guangcheng.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jennifer Smith, legal affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Michael Trotter, partner at the law firm Taylor English Duma, he’s practiced corporate law for five decades. Author of “Profit and the Practice of Law: What’s Happened to the Legal Profession.”

Bill Henderson, professor of Law and Val Nolan Faculty Fellow at Indiana University.  Director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

C-Segment: Chen Guangcheng Update

Jerome Alan Cohen, professor of law at New York University School of Law.

From Tom’s Reading List

DealBook “The crisis confronting the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf has stunned the legal profession. About 70 of Dewey’s 300 partners have left since January after their salaries were slashed because of the firm’s weak financial performance. Dewey’s woes hardly surprise Michael H. Trotter, a partner at Taylor English Duma in Atlanta who, in addition to a five-decade career as a corporate lawyer, has written two books about the economics and management of law firms.”

Businessweek “Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, as it faces a possible bankruptcy after losing more than 80 lawyers, is near an agreement with banks about extending its line of credit, a person familiar with the talks said.”

The Wall Street Journal “The former chairman of New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP was stripped of his remaining leadership roles Sunday, as law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP called off discussions on a possible deal with the struggling firm. While official talks are over, Greenberg leaders are continuing informal efforts to cherry-pick certain Dewey lawyers and practice groups, a person familiar with the situation said Sunday.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 30, 2015
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, center left, Minister of the Environment of Peru and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, center right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius, center, pose for photographers during a press visit to the COP21, Paris Climate Conference, site, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

World leaders converge in Paris for the big climate talks. We’ll look at what it will take to get a global climate agreement.

Nov 30, 2015
Shoppers walks in front of a holiday display Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, we’ll add up the dollars and trends and bargains of the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Nov 27, 2015
The punk rock band Sleater-Kinney (from L: Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) (Courtesy the Band)

Feminist punk-rockers, the band Sleater-Kinney, is with us. Reunited. Hotter than ever.

Nov 27, 2015
Josh Baldonado, an administrative assistant at Brown & Brown Insurance, works at a treadmill desk in the firms offices in Carmel, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP)

The end of sitting at work. A new call to get up off our chairs. To stand and move! We’ll look at how that works.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »