Dewey & LeBoeuf scraps London management

Dewey & LeBoeuf has abandoned the London managing partner role with firmwide chairman Steve Davis to oversee the office’s management concerns.

From now on Davis will divide his time between London and New York, spending two weeks a month in each city, with other administrative duties being carried out by non-lawyers.

According to Davis the decision, which was announced at a partnership meeting yesterday (16 October), was made in response to the inflated size of the London office, which will operate from two sites until Christmas. In the new year legacy Dewey Ballantine partners will move into LeBoeuf’s Mincing Lane premises.

“On a combined basis Dewey & LeBoeuf’s London office has just under 200 fee-earners,” he said. “We have got to a size where, like our New York office, we needed to have management more at the practice group level rather than the individual managing partner level.”

Following the merger between Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae, which went live at the beginning of this month, the respective firms’ London heads Fred Gander and Peter Sharp (pictured) will go back to full time fee earning. Gander will work in the combined firm’s tax practice while Sharp will return to giving full time disputes and insolvency advice.

“In the Dewey & LeBoeuf structure it became a question of time allocation: we were at a point in London where the single managing partner role would be a full time job,” Davis added.

So far no decisions have been made about who will head each practice in the merged firm. The firmwide executive committee, which Gander and Sharp sit on, is currently working with management consultant McKinsey & Company to come up with a suitable structure.

Stressing the importance of London to the firm, Davis said it is likely that a number of global practice head positions will be filled by London-based partners.

The announcement comes after fellow US firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft chairman Bob Link confirmed that the firm has scrapped its London managing partner role, as revealed by The Lawyer (15 October).