Looking back, defections from LeClairRyan over the past two years were a sure sign of the firm’s future, or lack thereof. But the seeds of the firm’s eventual downfall were planted years before that, in the expansion and compensation decisions during its best years.

According to interviews with former partners and employees, as well as court documents, the firm made a number of missteps, even in years when gross revenue increased, by overpaying underperforming lawyers, letting overhead expenses grow, and making questionable strategic decisions. It missed budget for the first time in 2011 and saw its problems grow as management attempted to change course.

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