Five-partner Dewey team prepares City base for administration

Dewey & LeBoeuf’s London office is preparing for a potential administration amid a top-level reshuffle that has seen the City managing partner role split up into a five-person steering committee.

Peter Sharp
Peter Sharp

Partners at the shaken US firm’s City base are in talks with administrators about the UK LLP being put into administration, with a source close to the firm suggesting that the process is effectively a done deal.

An insider said the London team was considering all possible approaches in the wake of key departures including capital markets partner duo Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein to Dechert last month (16 April 2012).

Close to 80 partners have now left globally in 2012, with the firm yesterday circulating a memorandum telling partners that they were under no obligation to stay put at the firm.

In response to the turmoil, the firm has scrapped the London managing partner position held by Peter Sharp, switching to a five-partner steering group made up of Sharp plus bank and institutional finance group chair Bruce Johnston, European restructuring head Mark Fennessy, restructuring partner Hazel Miller and tax partner Judith Harger.

The group is working on a solution to the situation, although a firm spokesperson said that formally Sharp is still the London managing partner and that the others are working with him on an informal basis.

Meanwhile, in other departures, employment partner Howard Adler and corporate and insurance partner Gary Boss have quit to join Clifford Chance in New York, while tax chair Gordon Warnke is joining Linklaters as New York practice head together with Washington DC tax partner Joseph Pari. Corporate finance pair Donald Murray and Eric Blanchard are moving to Covington & Burling.

Separately, it has emerged that recent Dewey departee Gary Apfel, a financial services partner, has joined Pepper Hamilton to launch its Los Angeles office.

In the latest exit today, global real estate head Stuart Saft has left Dewey to join Holland & Knight as co-chair of its New York real estate practice.

Saft took on the high-level role at Dewey in 2010 and was seen as an important figure in plans to build up the London property practice (22 March 2010).

Dewey declined to comment.