Dewey faces Euro crisis as Moscow team defects to Morgan Lewis

Dewey & LeBoeuf is bracing itself for further European losses as it emerges that City finance partner Bruce Johnston has decided against Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in favour of joining Morgan Lewis & Bockius alongside the struggling US firm’s entire Moscow team.

Johnston was previously in talks with Akin Gump over a move as part of a larger City team, but has changed his mind and is set to follow London managing partner Peter Sharp (3 May 2012) and fellow litigation partners David Waldron and Nick Greenwood to Morgan Lewis.

Meanwhile, Dewey’s entire Moscow base is also set to join Morgan Lewis to launch its office in the city, with senior Moscow partners Brian Zimbler and Jonathan Hines among the eight partners understood to be jumping ship along with all the office’s associates.

It is understood that none of the departing partners have formally resigned but the move is close to being finalised.

Johnston’s departure from Dewey had been expected despite talk that he was one of the firm’s most loyal London partners. He is one of the five key partners working on a potential administration of the London and Paris LLP (1 May 2012). The Moscow defections, meanwhile, have been in the pipeline for a while (26 April 2012).

Johnston was thought to be leaving to join Akin Gump alongside London oil and gas partner John LaMaster, with a source suggesting that his latest decision was swung by the Moscow team’s intention to head to Morgan Lewis. It is unclear what LaMaster’s plans are now.

Yesterday White & Case snared Dewey M&A stalwart Mort Pierce along with seven other partners including fellow New York corporate partner Denise Cerasani (3 May 2012).

Meanwhile, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has confirmed the hire of Dewey London projects partner James Simpson and Abu Dhabi energy partner Stephen Jurgenson.

Dewey and Morgan Lewis were unavailable for comment, while Akin Gump declined to comment.