Dewey & LeBoeuf, it appears, is fast becoming Dewey versus LeBoeuf.
 
Rallying to Steven Davis’s defense, several of his former LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae colleagues are taking issue with what they see as a concerted effort by those tied to legacy firm Dewey Ballantine to blame the ousted Dewey & LeBoeuf chairman for all the struggling firm’s woes. One thing Davis’s defenders say he definitely can’t be faulted for: Dewey’s inability to collect on a $9.6 million tab racked up representing the late brother of former vice-chairman Morton Pierce on SEC charges. 
 
Pierce—the former cohead of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s M&A practice and Dewey Ballantine’s cochairman at the time of that firm’s merger with LeBoeuf Lamb nearly five years ago—joined White & Case on Thursday, taking seven other Dewey corporate partners with him. Now, with Pierce abandoning the product of the ill-fated 2007 merger, and Davis, who denies any wrongdoing,  the subject of external and internal inquiries, recriminations are flying between their respective camps.
 
One former partner at both Dewey & LeBoeuf and LeBoeuf Lamb, where Davis served as chairman prior to the merger, questions the appointment of three former Dewey Ballantine partners— litigators Harvey Kurzweil and Seth Farber, and firm general counsel Janis Meyer—to conduct the firm’s internal investigation and act as its counsel in connection with the criminal probe being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The trio is working closely with Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor and chairman of New York–based compliance, investigation, and security consulting firm Guidepost Solutions, according to The New York Times.
 
This former partner and two other ex–Dewey & LeBoeuf partners say they don’t believe any criminal activity occurred at the firm and that Davis has unfairly been placed under a cloud.
 
“Every special contract that was awarded, every deal that was cut, was known to the entire partnership, it wasn’t some big secret,” says one of the former Dewey & LeBoeuf partners. “And people could have objected to certain things in meetings, but, like me, they were too chickenshit to raise their hand. And so I left.”
 
The “hanging of Davis,” as one of his former colleagues at both LeBoeuf Lamb and Dewey & LeBoeuf termed it, has encouraged some of his supporters to air what they consider other dirty Dewey & LeBoeuf laundry. Specifically, this former partner and several others are calling attention to the firm’s representation of Robert Pinkas, a former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett lawyer turned Ohio investment adviser who died in March from complications related to a surgical procedure in January.
 
Pinkas, 58, was Pierce’s younger brother, according to an obituary published by The (Cleveland) Plain-Dealer and a New York Times death notice. The obituary and death notice state that Pinkas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and began his legal career at Simpson Thacher in New York, before changing careers and returning to Cleveland in 1980 with McKinsey & Co. In 1984, Pinkas founded his own investment firm called Brantley Partners.
 
In August 2009, the SEC charged Pinkas and his Brantley Capital Management (BCM) with securities fraud for allegedly overvaluing the assets held in an investment portfolio in order to charge higher investment advisory fees. Pinkas and BCM settled the SEC case in September 2010 without admitting or denying wrongdoing.
 
In February 2012, while Pinkas was hospitalized, the SEC filed an administrative action against him in which it claimed he had failed to comply with the restrictions imposed under the 2010 settlement. The SEC claimed that Pinkas used  $632,000 in client money to settle the government’s previous investigation, while also misappropriating $173,000 in client funds to pay his legal fees in the case.
 
One former Dewey lawyer familiar with the Pinkas case, which is currently on hold as the SEC considers whether to press a claim against his estate, says that Jones Day entered initial appearances for Pinkas in 2009 before Dewey took over the matter a short time later, an engagement for which it would not be paid in full.
 
Stephen Sozio, a Jones Day litigation partner in Cleveland, was representing Pinkas in the administrative action filed by the SEC earlier this year. He confirmed Dewey’s role handling the bulk of the case against his client, but declined to comment on any other issues pertaining to the SEC’s actions against Pinkas.
 
Former Dewey partners tell The Am Law Daily that issues with the insurance companies that held the policies on Pinkas’s Brantley-related entities complicated the firm’s ability to collect on its bills in the case. In the end, Dewey wrote off a $9.6 million legal tab for its representation of Pinkas and BCM, according to one former partner knowledgeable of the case and confirmed by a partner currently with the firm.
 
The Am Law Daily contacted Pierce, the billing partner on the Pinkas account, late Thursday as he cleaned out his Dewey office ahead of his move to White & Case and put the finishing touches on some deal work for client Fougera Pharmaceuticals in connection with its $1.5 billion sale to Swiss drug giant Novartis. (Pierce told us his team will close the deal for Fougera, whose CEO he has known for some time, at White & Case.)
 
Asked to comment on whether Dewey gave Pinkas a discount on its representation of his brother, Pierce politely declined. “I’m not commenting on that,” he said. “I’m not talking about my brother.”
 
An outside spokesman for Dewey, Michael Sitrick, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the firm’s legal fees on the Pinkas case.
 
The Am Law Daily reported Thursday that Dewey is poised to close its doors by May 15. Davis, who was dumped from the firm’s five-partner office of the chairman last week, has retained Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer name partner Barry Bohrer as outside counsel.
 
A Dewey source also confirmed Friday that the firm’s executive director, Stephen DiCarmine, has retained Edward Little, chair of the white-collar practice group at Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Little did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Kurzweil and Guidepost’s Schwartz did not return phone calls.
 
Guidepost CEO Andrew O’Connell said Friday he could not discuss details about Dewey’s internal investigation.

Additional reporting by Julie Triedman.