When LeClairRyan reached the point of no return in August, finally acknowledging its plans to dissolve after months spent bleeding partners, it came into focus that the firm’s aggressive expansion had actually contributed to its demise.

The firm had promised partners more than they were worth and signed expensive leases on understaffed offices. It missed budget in 2011 for the first time, but not the last. When new leadership took over in 2016, there was talk of “righting the ship,” a former shareholder recalls. Any attempts to do so were too late.

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