April 10, 2012 4:23 PM

Which Firms Are Cashing in on Dewey Departures?

Posted by Sara Randazzo

News of departures at the beleaguered Dewey LeBoeuf keeps rolling in, this time from London.

Legal Week reported Tuesday that Nicholas Rock, cohead of Dewey’s environmental litigation group, is packing up for Reed Smith, and that a three-attorney corporate group led by junior partner Prakash Paran has gone to DLA Piper.

Representatives from Reed Smith and DLA confirmed the moves Tuesday. A Dewey spokesman said the firm had no comment on the departures.

Dewey has at least 53 fewer partners than it did in January—including one who retired, one who left for personal reasons, and one who moved inhouse for a client (Eric Reifschneider, formerly the head of the Northern California offices, went to Qualcomm). In all, 50 partners have jumped to competitors, while, according to the firm’s Web site, 270 remain at Dewey.

So which firms are scooping up the most Dewey laterals? Here’s a quick tally, based strictly on partner departures:

Willkie Farr Gallagher, 12.

Sutherland Asbill Brennan, 6.

DLA Piper, 4.

Sidley Austin, 4.

Drinker Biddle Reath, 3.

Hogan Lovells, 3.

Patton Boggs, 3.

Clifford Chance, 2.

Mayer Brown, 2.

Shipman Goodwin, 2.

Firms with one Dewey addition each include Arent Fox, Baker Hostetler, Bingham McCutchen, Houston litigation shop Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi Mensing, Jeffer Mangels Butler Mitchell, King Spalding, Reed Smith, SNR Denton, and Weil, Gotshal Manges.

The losses, which come amid questions about Dewey’s financial health and rumors that partners have not been adequately compensated, have also left several firm offices without a leader.

Chicago, Houston, and the firm’s two Northern California offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley are all absent managing partners following the departures of lawyers in those roles (Former Chicago leader James Dwyer’s departure for Sutherland Asbill leaves that location with just three partners). A Dewey spokesman confirmed in an email that replacements have not yet been named.

In Washington, D.C., former local managing partner Abraham Shashy, who left in early February for King Spalding, has been replaced with Charles Landgraf.

Landgraf is one branch of Dewey’s new five-member “office of the chairman,” which was voted in by the partnership last week. That management shake up will see former sole chairman Steven Davis relocate to London and return to practice while still being part of management. Others in the top role are global litigation head Jeffrey Kessler, business solutions and governance and consumer financial services head Martin Bienenstock, and corporate head Richard Shutran.

Under Davis’s reign, Dewey had a sizeable executive committee. As of October, that committee numbered 35, including two non-lawyer executives, according to a filing made with the Justice Department. Six of those members have since left—John Altorelli, who spoke at length with The Am Law Daily last week, to DLA Piper; Michael Duff to Sidley Austin; Joseph Ferraro to Willkie; William Marcoux to DLA; Shashy; and James Woods to Mayer Brown.

A Dewey spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on whether or not replacements have been made to the executive committee and if it will continue to play the same role following the change in management.

Senior reporter Nate Raymond contributed reporting.

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