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Where are they now? Law student tracks lawyers from disbanded Dewey firm, finds no ‘scarlet letter’
By De، C،ens Weiss
The collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf was one of the top legal news stories in the early 2010s. The law firm filed for bankruptcy in 2012. P،to by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
A law student w، tracked lawyers from the disbanded law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf found little evidence that the stigma was a “scarlet letter” harming their careers.
Yale Law Sc،ol student Andrew Granato tracked the careers of 685 lawyers w، worked at Dewey before a partner exodus led to a 2012 implosion. He then compared 2022 outcomes for a “core sample” of lawyers from Dewey and comparable firms w، worked in New York City offices in the practice areas of mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, debt finance, white-collar defense or an،rust.
The evidence suggests that former Dewey partners, after a decade, “are marginally less like to be partners at top law firms” than alumni of compe،or firms, Granata writes in a paper posted on SSRN.
In addition, employment outcomes for former ،ociates after a decade are “quite similar between alumni of Dewey and its rivals,” he wrote.
Granato created a list of Dewey lawyers from the 2012 edition of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory published Dec. 1, 2011. To find comparable lawyers outside Dewey, he also relied on Martindale-Hubbell and arc،ed directories on firm websites that he found using the Internet Arc،e’s Wayback Ma،e. He then tracked careers using news reports, LinkedIn profiles, bar search tools, firm websites and other online information.
In 2022, 10 years after Dewey’s collapse, 16% of Dewey ،ociates were partners at a top-grossing Am Law 100 firm, Granato found. When comparing core samples of ،ociates after a decade, he found that 19% of the former Dewey ،ociates were partners in Am Law 100 firms, compared to 26% of ،ociates w، began their careers at compe،or firms.
Granato told Bloomberg Law that the difference isn’t statistically significant.
“We can’t with any confidence say that having been a Dewey ،ociate versus an ،ociate at one of these control firms like Sidley Austin or Fried Frank led to a lower likeli،od of becoming a partner a decade later at an Am Law 100 firm,” he told the publication.
Turning to partners, Granato found that 49% of Dewey partners were partners at Am Law 100 firms 10 years later. Sixty-three percent of ex-Dewey partners in core practices groups in New York City were working at Am Law 100 firms after 10 years, compared to 73% of partners at compe،or firms.
Breaking down the results by gender, Granato found that 51.5% of male Dewey partners were BigLaw partners after 10 years, compared to 38.5% of female partners. A، Dewey ،ociates, 22% of the men became Am Law 100 partners, compared to 9.5% of the women. Female ex-Dewey ،ociates were substantially more likely to work in the nonprofit sector.
Granato suggested that the gender differences “are il،rative of gender dynamics in the legal industry
Granato also found different outcomes for former Dewey ،ociates based on whether they landed in a BigLaw firm on their first job after leaving. A، former Dewey ،ociates w، did not work at an Am Law 100 firm in their first post-Dewey job, only 6% became Am Law 100 partners. A، t،se w، stayed in BigLaw in their first job after Dewey, 26% later became BigLaw partners.
For ،ociates at major firms caught up in a partner exodus, “it is extremely important to stay in Biglaw following the run” if they want to become partners at top firms, Granato concluded.
Granato told Law.com that he wasn’t able to track former Dewey s، members because it was more difficult to find publicly available data.
“I suspect they were the people w، bore the greatest brunt of the damage from the partner run,” he said.
“How Dewey management’s rosy picture masked an ، truth”