Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The inevitable has arrived for the once-major law firm of Dewey & Leboeuf LLP. It has filed for Chapter 11 liquidation as the last of its partners have fled the firm. The demise of the legal giant holds several lessons, not the least of which is that uncontrolled growth and over-promising in a partnership are dangerous. Perhaps another lesson to the now former managers of the firm is the need to communicate constantly and in depth with people who can take their business elsewhere at any time -- and did. It is not accurate to speak of employee communications when dealing with partners but the principles apply. There should be no surprises. The job of the managing partner is to keep lines open at all times with partners. Dewey's managing partner promised what he couldn't deliver. He didn't have the loyalty of his partners to see the difficult times through. The firm might have bled some of its producers and still survived but once the flight began, management was powerless to stop it. There was no loyalty.