Orrick talks mar Dewey retention

The cost of Dewey Ballantine’s failed merger with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is underlined by figures exclusively obtained by The Lawyer.

The firm lost a total of 23 partners last year, only replacing five through lateral hires.

It has been widely reported that Dewey suffered a partner exodus in the wake of its October 2006 announcement that it intended to merge with Orrick. Ten partners left between then and Christmas, with another three leaving in 2007.

In a previous interview with The Lawyer (17 January), London managing partner Fred Gander said of the departures: “If it was not for the merger discussions I don’t think we’d be in this position.”

Those 10 exits pushed total partner departures in 2006 to 23 firmwide. That marks nearly 50 per cent more exits than the average for the preceding three years.

But Dewey’s door was swinging in only one direction: 2006 was not a strong year for laterals, with the firm hiring just five partners compared with a three-year average from 2003 to 2005 of eight.

In stark contrast, Dewey embarked on a campaign of heavy internal promotion of its associates. While the three-year promotion average up to 2005 stood at seven, in 2006 this figure skyrocketed by 114 per cent to 15.