Law Firms' White-Shoe Blues

After years of huge profits, corporate law firms are falling on hard times. It’s long overdue
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Dewey & LeBoeuf can’t win. In late March an embarrassing exodus of partners prompted the global law firm to announce a management shake-up. In explaining the reshuffle to Bloomberg News, the head of Dewey’s corporate department, Richard Shutran, mentioned that the firm earned about $250 million last year. Whoops. That was a lot less than what Dewey had reported a few weeks earlier to the legal trade publication American Lawyer, which is now revising its financial database to reflect reduced results for Dewey in both 2011 and 2010. John Altorelli, one of more than 60 Dewey partners taking their practices elsewhere, told the Am Law Daily blog that he sees two potential futures for his former colleagues: a significant downsizing or “a firm busted up into a bunch of little pieces.”

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