Support Marketplace

Law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf files for bankruptcy

The view from outside The United States Court House in New York City. This week law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Stacey Vanek Smith: What was once one of the largest law firms in the country filed for bankruptcy last night. After months of financial turmoil and partners jumping ship, Dewey & LeBoeuf plans to liquidate.

Marketplace’s Amy Scott has more.


Amy Scott: Analysts say this is a case of a law firm that got too big at the wrong time. At its peak, Dewey & Leboeuf employed 1,300 lawyers in offices around the globe. But the merger that created the firm happened just as the economy turned south in 2007, and clients who could pay up to a thousand dollars an hour dried up.

Bill Singer is a partner at Herskovitz PLLC.

Bill Singer: It had gone from a small firm of great stature to a larger firm and a larger firm and a larger firm, and to some extent, it just wasn’t flexible enough to survive in this day and age.

Several law firms have filed for bankruptcy since the recession began, but Dewey’s is the largest collapse of a law firm in US history. Most of Dewey’s 300 partners left for other firms in recent months, as debts piled up. The firm will keep about 90 employees around to wind down the business. That leaves hundreds looking for work in a tough legal market.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...