Dewey & Leboeuf is Biggest Law Firm Bankruptcy Ever

Reuters:  “The crippled law firm Dewey & Leboeuf LLP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night and will seek approval to liquidate its business after failing to find a merger partner, marking the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S. history.  Once one of the largest law firms in the U.S., Dewey has been hit by the loss of the vast majority of its roughly 300 partners to other firms amid concerns about compensation and a heavy debt load.”

A related story in the Wall St. Journal called “The Law Firm Business Model Is Dying” starts:

Rules that were adopted to protect the legal profession from outside competition are actually stifling it.  On Monday night the century-old law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy—following in the footsteps of other venerable firms such as Howrey & Simon, Heller Ehrman, Coudert Brothers, and Brobeck, Phelger and Harrison. It is easy to think that greedy lawyers are getting their just deserts. But this should not blind us from seeing that there is a better way for America’s law firms to do business.  The problems these firms face today are twofold: Large clients are increasingly using in-house counsel to reduce costs, and the public is increasingly taking the do-it-yourself route given the growing access.

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The point of the article is that technology and the times have changed the way lawyers practice law.  Attorneys and firms who do not adjust to the changes will see their revenue decrease and in some cases vanish.  LegalZoom is here to stay and you can bet it will generate a huge number of competitors.

P.S.  I subscribe to the Wall St. Journal and read it every day on my iPhone and iPad.  Its only $9/month for full access to the paper.

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