Much a-Dewey about nothing

Much a-Dewey about nothing

Dewey Ballantine appears to be trundling along despite the recent brouhaha about a capital call on its partners to clear $15m (£8.7m) of its debt and litigation against a group of partners, including chairman Mort Pierce, who was re-elected last month despite the upheaval.

If fact, the overhaul of Dewey’s management structure, which also saw the firm overhaul its financial structure, appears to be bearing fruit.

If the firm’s rising revenue per lawyer, which hit $780,000 (£451,900) last year, is any indication, the decision to streamline Dewey’s management and move to a system of a sole chairman and four-member executive committee has been a winner.

As part of the reshuffle, bankruptcy head Alan Gover sacrificed his place on the firm’s 14-member management committee to insurance head Jeff Liebmann. So, despite claims that the US firm’s elections are not quite as cut-throat as some on this side of the pond, it has not prevented one head from rolling.

Hammonds: the incredible shrinking firm

The slow but steady trickle of salaried partners from Hammonds continued this week as Leeds corporate finance partner Lester Wilson decamped for Watson Burton. Wilson was only promoted to partner in May last year. He is the seventh salaried partner to quit Hammonds since the firm instituted a lock-in of equity partners a year ago.

Given the firm’s precarious state, the loss of seven junior partners is actually pretty good going. Just five of them have gone to rival firms; the other two, Mark Evans and Tracey Wood, have gone in-house.

Hammonds must now get its equity partners to commit to another lock-in. As revealed by The Lawyer (13 February), the firm recently presented a proposal to the partnership, but so far there has been no confirmation of a vote. Their loyalty will not only help Hammonds financially but will also encourage any fence-sitting salaried partners to stick out a second tough year.

QC appointment process as transparent as mud

The new QC appointments process was designed to make the whole system transparent. It would make the old boys’ network obsolete and enable more solicitors, women and those from ethnic minorities to have a better chance at being appointed silk.

So just why does the Lord Chancellor need weeks to examine the recommendations made by a carefully chosen panel of top lawyers and a professionally run secretariat?
The rumour currently doing the rounds of the usually reliable bar grapevine is that he will take two whole months to give the list of new silks the nod, before passing it on to the Queen for her approval. Hardly the transparency that was touted when the new process launched last summer.

The secretariat is still beavering away with interviews and is a long way yet from making those recommendations. The current estimate is that Lord Falconer will begin his examination of the list at the end of May – ensuring that this year there will be no traditional Maundy Thursday (13 April) announcement.