‘F*ckwad’ emails led (somewhat indirectly) to the biggest law firm collapse in history

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By Alex Aldridge on

The New Yorker has revealed a series of previously unseen abusive emails which arguably set in motion the biggest law firm collapse in history.

A piece in this week’s edition of the magazine on the implosion of Dewey & LeBoeuf highlights a partner’s labelling of his colleagues as a “fuckwad” and a “little prick” as potentially significant moments in the firm’s downfall…

The emails were sent back in 2007 by Alexander Dye, a partner at legacy firm LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae, which later that year would enter into its disastrous merger with Dewey Ballantine.

In the correspondence with unnamed colleagues, Dye, who was apparently angry about getting passed over for the firm’s chairman role, referred to other partners as “pathetic,” a “little prick,” and a “fuckwad.”

The emails, which were being covertly monitored, led to Dye being sidelined. This caused anxiety as Dye was the firm’s key corporate rainmaker. At that point, fearing that his star work-generator would flee with important clients, LeBoeuf Lamb’s boss, Steve Davis, decided to act quickly.

As The New Yorker puts it, with Dye’s possible exit threatening to create “a gaping hole that might be impossible to fill…Davis felt that his only move was to quickly pursue a merger with a firm that had a large corporate practice.”

And the rest is history.