May 8 (Reuters) - More top rainmakers at law firm Dewey &LeBoeuf decamped for new homes on Tuesday, days after the firm
warned employees that it may go out of business.
Dewey, once one of the biggest U.S. law firms, has lost
roughly 150 of its 300 partners since the start of the year. The
departures came amid a debt crisis, concerns about partner compensation and a criminal probe into former Dewey Chairman
The latest departures included five partners led by Richard
Climan, a prominent mergers and acquisitions partner in Silicon
Valley. Weil, Gotshal & Manges said it had hired Climan's team.
Ten partners from Dewey joined DLA Piper, including New York
dealmaker Berge Setrakian, and Joseph Tato, the chair of Dewey's
global project finance and infrastructure finance group. DLA
Piper said it also is hiring Joseph Lavelle, a patent litigator
Two real estate partners, Gordon Davis and Suzanne St.
Pierre, left Dewey for Venable. Venable will also add Peter
Britell, a former chair of Dewey's global real estate and
construction practice, as a partner.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld said it had hired three
energy partners from Dewey's London and Houston offices,
including John LaMaster, chair of Dewey's global oil and gas
industry sector group.
Another five energy partners will separately join Bracewell
& Giuliani. They include John Klauberg, the co-head of Dewey's
utilities, power and pipelines global industry sector group, and
Catherine McCarthy, who co-headed Dewey's energy regulatory
Last week, Dewey & LeBoeuf's management sent a memo to
partners encouraging them to find other jobs and, on Friday, the
firm warned employees that it may close.
Partners have since told some secretaries their last day
will be this Friday, a person close to the matter said Tuesday.
Some associates have meanwhile been told their last day will be
the end of next week, this person said. It was not clear how
many people will lose their jobs.
The troubles at Dewey have spurred an investigation by
Manhattan's district attorney, who the firm has said is probing
allegations of wrongdoing by its former chairman, Davis. He has
denied the charges.
Other partners who announced moves on Tuesday included
Jonathan DeSantis, a capital markets partner who joined Shearman
& Sterling; James Carter, an international arbitration lawyer
who joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr as special
counsel; and Simon Briggs, who joined Dechert's corporate and
securities practice in London.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius separately confirmed previous
reports that it would hire 10 partners from Dewey's London,
Moscow and Almaty offices.
The moves are coups for the various firms that hired the
lawyers from Dewey. Setrakian and Tato's groups alone are
expected to generate $40 million to $50 million in business a
year for DLA Piper, according to a person familiar with the
Climan is well-known in M&A circles. He advised Illumina in
defending against Roche's $6 billion hostile takeover bid
earlier this year. He also regularly counsels Dell in deals,
including the $1 billion acquisition of Compellent Technologies,
announced in December 2010.
Weil Gotshal beat other several other firms in hiring
Climan's group. Other firms that had talks with Climan included
Freshfields and Kirkland & Ellis, according to a person close to
How much the partners will be paid at their new firms is
unclear. Climan earned a guaranteed $3.5 million a year after
joining Dewey in 2009 from Cooley, where he was firm-wide head
of its mergers practice, according to the Recorder, a California
legal publication. Setrakian meanwhile had for at least a time
earned $3 million after joining Dewey predecessor firm LeBoeuf,
Lamb, Greene & MacRae from Winston & Strawn in 2005, the
American Lawyer reported at the time.
Climan declined to discuss his pay. Setrakian was not
available to comment.
Former partners have cited Dewey's practice of awarding
guaranteed pay to some partners but not others as a reason
behind the firm's troubles. More than 100 of the firm's 300
partners had guarantees, a number that wasn't known until an
October meeting, according to two former partners. Partners who
did not have guaranteed pay deals meanwhile saw their
compensation shrink during the recession.
Roger Meltzer, the chair of DLA Piper's corporate and
finance practice, declined to discuss how much his firm was
paying partners it recruited from Dewey.
"On a general basis, it's a fair economic transaction for
them and us," he said.
Duncan Miller, a spokesman for Dewey, declined to comment on
(Reporting By Nate Raymond; Additional reporting by Andrew
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