Open Letter to Wall Street Journal – Dewey & LeBoeuf

Letter to the Editor re Dewey LeBoeuf:

 Your staff reporters, including Jennifer Smith, seem fixated on the Dewey law firm and its challenges. While one or two such articles would be of interest to both lawyers and your general readership, I suggest that recent articles have suggested nothing new and merely seem like “kicking a dead horse,” or worse, merely filling space in your paper.

 Dewey highlights the unfortunate interplay of bad luck (the Great Recession and unexpected change in our economic health) and poor management (failure to anticipate alternative scenarios).  Once again, it is confirmed that law practice is a business. As I’ve been saying since 1995 when I received the registered mark for The Business of Law®, law practice is a business. Yes, it’s a profession AND also a business, a service business.  Dewey & LeBoeuf confirms this as does the former chair, Tower Snow, of the now defunct Brobeck law firm, who said law is subject to the same economics as every other business and profession.

Among other challenges facing Dewey are: i) the “bleeding” of lawyers leaving the firm a few at a time until the firm will face hemorrhaging, ii) unfunded pensions that will be a drain on the firm assets and future revenue, thus setting up vicious generation warfare in the future, and iii) debt from their expanded lines of credit. Of course, none of these challenges are fatal in themselves, but are compounded by virtue of management in whom the majority of the firm has lost confidence.  

Your reporters should give Dewey some space to work out their problems or, perhaps even better, talk about the issues (not the personalities or the law firms specifically) that the firm is facing. That would be interesting to your readers because it not only applies to the legal community, but to all of your readers in the companies they operate.


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