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All appeared quiet on the law firm merger front. Then, in August, Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae went and stirred things up. The two firms announced they would merge, creating a 1,300-lawyer firm with offices in 12 countries and vaulting what is now known as Dewey & LeBoeuf into the top 20 of U.S. firms in both head count and revenue. The combination gave the firms capabilities that they couldn’t muster apart. Dewey focuses on tax, private equity deals, and mergers and acquisitions work. That dovetails with LeBoeuf’s energy and insurance specialties. The merger also creates a formidable New York presence, with 550 attorneys in the firm’s Gotham office. Post-merger, the firm wasted little time in courting high-profile partners at other firms, such as Chapter 11 guru Martin Bienenstock, the former co-head of Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ bankruptcy practice who oversaw the representation of Enron during the company’s $38 billion bankruptcy. In Washington, Dewey & LeBoeuf has also gone on a hiring spree, poaching attorneys from its D.C. competition. Just a month after the merger was approved in September, the firm picked up four new partners: B. Donovan Picard and Edward Rowe from Hunton & Williams; Lawrence Sung from Nixon Peabody; and Robert Lorndale from Ivin, Phillips & Barker. The firm’s D.C. head count now stands at more than 160 attorneys. Of course, the burgeoning firm still has to withstand tremors from within. And it’s too soon to tell whether LeBoeuf’s aggressive style will mesh with Dewey’s more laid-back approach. “When you look at all the metrics by which you measure the success of law firms, these firms are almost mirror images,” says Ralph Ferrera, the head of LeBoeuf’s Washington office. “The only thing you can’t measure by metric is personality.” If there is a major culture clash, the whole affair could go bust, like Dewey’s merger talks with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which collapsed in January. But, as they say, second marriages are all about the triumph of hope over experience.
Attila Berry can be contacted at [email protected].

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