Dewey dues

Many Dewey ex-partners have paid into the contribution plan; some still have not

A month and a half ago it seemed as though Dewey & LeBoeuf’s bankruptcy chiefs were finding London a tough cookie. The New York-based wind-down heads, led by chief restructuring officer Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper and bankruptcy lawyer Albert Togut of Togut Togut & Segel, had largely failed to win over members of the UK LLP – covering London and Paris – in their bid to sign the failed firm’s ex-partners up to the partner contribution plan (PCP) in return for being absolved of liability.

The PCP was aimed at bringing $90.4m (£55.7m) into the estate, with each contribution based on the total income a partner earned during 2011 and 2012.

But a group of 17 UK partners decided not to part with their cash. They obtained a detailed legal opinion from a New Jersey bankruptcy firm and concluded they would stay clear of it on the grounds that members of the UK LLP were believed to be ring-fenced against the US parent.

The tide has since turned, following a string of improvements to the offer conditions. First, US-qualified partners who are members of both the UK and the US LLP started saying yes. Among them were Dechert capital markets partners Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein, two of the earlier departures from Dewey.

But a document filed in the New York bankruptcy courts earlier this month shows a wave of partners have been persuaded to hand over money. Tax partner Fred Gander, who joined KPMG in April, was understood to be part of the group that initially turned down the settlement, but the list names him and his $211,976 contribution. Likewise, Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Joseph Ferraro, an insurance partner, paid in $404,612.

Partners including restructuring pair Mark Fennessy and Hazel Miller are also named on the list.

The filing is not comprehensive: The Lawyer understands that former Dewey London chief Peter Sharp – not listed – also paid up, but Dan Coppel, Peter Crowther and Bruce Johnston are still naysayers. The total raised has hit at least $71.5m, but not everyone was convinced.