How does a law firm disappear? Greed? Mismanagement? Fraud? Bad luck? On May 28, 2012, Dewey & LeBoeuf, the product of a merger between two storied New York law firms, filed for bankruptcy. Hundreds of lawyers and staff lost their jobs. The firm’s leaders were indicted for fraud. It was the biggest law firm collapse in history.
At its peak, Dewey & LeBoeuf had more than 1,300 lawyers and 26 offices around the world. The firm’s leader, an ambitious lawyer named Steven Davis, had a vision to create a lasting global megafirm to rival the likes of Skadden and Cleary Gottlieb. In the decade since the firm’s demise, Steven Davis has never told his story on camera. Until now.
In this short documentary film, Bloomberg Law asks Davis about the years, months, and weeks leading to his firm’s collapse, the decisions he made and, looking back, whether he would have done anything differently.
The film also features interviews with: David Lat, former editor of Above the Law, who covered Dewey’s fall; Vivia Chen, a columnist for Bloomberg Law who writes about the legal industry; and David Wilkins, a legal industry scholar at Harvard Law School.