Dewey & LeBoeuf
, the only order seems to be in
who’s next to head for the door
. On Wednesday, two members of the struggling firm’s four-partner office of the chairman—Richard Shutran and Jeffrey Kessler—prepared to decamp elsewhere.
The looming losses of Kessler and Shutran leave L. Charles Landgraf and Martin Bienenstock as the only two remaining members of Dewey’s office of the chairman. Landgraf is managing partner of the firm’s office in Washington, D.C., and chair of its legislative and public policy practice; Bienenstock is chair of the firm’s business solutions and governance department.
O’Melveny & Myers
announced that it was hiring Shutran, the cochair of Dewey’s corporate department and the chair of its global finance practice, along with tax chair Arthur Hazlitt, renewable and clean energy practice cochair Junaid Chida, and partners Dev Sen and Mark Caterini, all of whom are based in New York.
Shutran said in a statement
, ”We saw a great opportunity at O’Melveny, not only to help deepen the firm’s transactions capabilities in New York and elsewhere, but also to join an excellent team of lawyers whose values are consistent with our own.” O’Melveny added in its statement that Shutran will join the firm on May 14.
Tax partners Hazlitt and Caterini and project development and real estate partners Chida and Sen will join O’Melveny on May 10. The moves follow
O’Melveny’s hire last month of Stanton Lovenworth
, the former chair of Dewey’s life sciences global industry practice, as of counsel in New York.
The Am Law Daily reported on Tuesday
that Shutran and members of his finance team were in advanced talks with O’Melveny. Shutran, who was not immediately available for comment, was considered the primary liaison at Dewey with the firm’s banks. Shutran helped Dewey orchestrate a
nearly $150 million bond offering in 2010
designed to refinance the firm’s existing bank debt. (Payments on that bond were due to begin next year.)
Also on Wednesday, a Kessler-led team of roughly 60 lawyers—23 of them partners—prepared to leave Dewey for
Winston & Strawn
. In addition to belonging to Dewey’s office of the chairman, Kessler was also global litigation chair and the cochair of the firm’s prominent sports litigation group.
Winston chairman Dan Webb—one of the country’s leading litigators and a member of his firm’s executive committee—confirmed to The Am Law Daily that his firm had been in “intense negotiations” over the past week to bring a “significant number of litigators” from Dewey’s offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. Webb says that the bulk of the hires will be in New York, where Winston has wanted to bolster its presence in recent years.
Webb notes that Winston will take on dozens of other associates and an undetermined number of administrative staff from Dewey. He expects most of the new hires to join Winston as soon as Monday.
Other key partners joining Winston include sports litigation practice cochair David Feher and longtime Dewey litigators Harvey Kurzweil and Seth Farber, the latter two of which were conducting an
internal inquiry into the business practices of former Dewey chairman Steven Davis
, who is also under investigation by the district attorney’s office in Manhattan. (Neither Farber nor Kurzweil responded to requests for comment on the status of that probe.)
Farber, Feher, Kessler, and Kurzweil will join Winston in New York, along with fellow former Dewey partners A. Paul Victor, James Smith III, John Aerni, Aldo Badini, Suzanne Jaffe Bloom, Eva Wolaniuk Cole, David Greenspan, Adam Kaiser, Kelly Librera, George Mastoris, Jonathan Miller, Richard Reinthaler, and Kevin Wallace. Leaving Dewey in London for Winston is competition and disputes partner Peter Crowther. Energy litigation partners Timothy Carey and Elizabeth Bradshaw and two counsel are joining Winston in Chicago from Dewey, as well as litigation partners John Schreiber and Matthew Walsh in Los Angeles.
Webb thinks that the Dewey hires will further expand Winston’s range. “While we’re usually in the room to get these ‘bet-the-company’-type cases, we don’t get all of them,” he says. “But there’s a lot of standouts [among the incoming Dewey attorneys] that will further enhance our team of first-tier trial lawyers.”
By adding Kessler and his group, many of whom specialize in bringing antitrust and IP cases, Winston gains one of the more profitable practice areas at Dewey in recent years. Several former Dewey partners say that Kessler, who joined predecessor firm
in 2003 from
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
, was paid more than $5 million a year by the firm.
Kessler, who did not respond to a request for comment,
is best known for his top-notch sports practice
, which includes long-standing client relationships with the players unions of the National Basketball Association and National Football League.
Landgraf and Bienenstock, the two remaining members of Dewey’s office of the chairman, did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. Both lawyers also sit on Dewey’s executive committee. Stephen Horvath, the head of Dewey’s M&A practice who was named to the
newly created position of executive partner in late March
, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Other top partners remaining at Dewey include vice-chair and regulatory and corporate governance partner Ralph Ferrara, global private equity chair Joseph Smith, corporate securities group and Latin American practice chair Michael Fitzgerald, and Bruce Bennett, a bankruptcy expert and managing partner of the firm’s Los Angeles office.
Bennett joined Dewey
in high-profile lateral moves last year. As of midday Wednesday, the firm has seen roughly half of its 300 partners head for the exits this year alone, amid internal disputes over compensation, a mounting debt load, and an inability to find a merger partner.
Additional reporting by Sara Randazzo.