Dewey Leboeuf office at 1305 Avenue of the Americas..May 8, 2012
Dewey Leboeuf office at 1305 Avenue of the Americas..May 8, 2012 (Rick Kopstein)

Kenneth Freeling, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf litigation partner who became of counsel at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., died Thursday after reportedly falling several floors from his New York apartment building.

The New York Post reported that Freeling fell in the early morning hours from a luxury high-rise on Park Avenue where he lived in Manhattan. He landed on a terrace in front of several people running on treadmills in the building’s second-floor gym. Freeling, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Ken’s passing,” a Covington spokesman said in a statement provided to The American Lawyer. “He made important contributions to the firm and was a good, earnest colleague who cared deeply about the firm.”

The American Lawyer reported in late 2015 on Freeling filing a complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C., against British financial services giant Barclays plc. The suit challenged a claim by the London-based bank, which financed capital contributions for Dewey & LeBoeuf partners, seeking $361,022 from Freeling to cover the balance of a loan used to finance his ownership stake in the now-defunct firm. Freeling’s lawyer released a detailed statement on his claims against Barclays.

Boies Schiller Flexner, a firm used by Barclays to quash similar suits, was hired by the bank to defend against Freeling’s claims. Court records show that a motion by Barclays to dismiss Freeling’s suit was granted by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on Jan. 21, 2016. (Mehta was confirmed to the bench two years ago after leaving Zuckerman Spaeder.)

Freeling (pictured right) specialized in a broad range of cases, including antitrust, commercial and intellectual property matters for clients in the construction, financial institutions, industrial, media, pharmaceutical and telecommunications sectors. He joined Dewey & LeBoeuf predecessor Dewey Ballantine in June 2007 from Robins Kaplan. He previously worked at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, a firm he joined in 2001, and Kaye Scholer.

Dewey Ballantine merged with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in late 2007. For a time, Freeling served as managing partner of the combined firm’s office in Doha, Qatar. In March 2011, Freeling joined K&L Gates in Washington, D.C. Six months later he helped the firm open an office in Qatar.

Freeling represented the interests of individuals and public and private companies in the Persian Gulf state, where he became involved with Tomorrow’s Youth, a U.S. nongovernmental organization doing work in the Middle East. After leaving K&L Gates in early 2014, he joined Covington in Washington, D.C., where he continued to work for the past few years.

The collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, where Freeling initially became involved in the firm’s bankruptcy case, was far from the only misfortune in his life. Freeling’s 21-year-old son, Samuel, committed suicide in 2013. Sam Freeling’s mother, Sue Cimbricz, spoke with Katie Couric in a Yahoo News special about depression and young people. (Ken Freeling helped operate a kosher food truck in Nashville with another son, Zack, a student at Vanderbilt University.)

Despite the perceived comforts and privilege of Big Law, suicide remains a pervasive problem in the legal industry. Many state and local bar associations offer confidential hotlines and assistance to lawyers and other professionals.

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