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.”

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