Exciting times for Dewey Ballantine following its August merger agreement (pending partner approval) with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. They'll be spiking in DC from 60 lawyers and other senior professionals to over 160 post-merger, and 1,300 worldwide. We made a beeline to managing partner Alan Wolff to fill us in.
Alan in his office at 975 F St. He expects Dewey's merger to be approved by the end of the month and for integration, including consolidating office space, to begin immediately. "Ironically," he says, "LeBoeuf just moved into the building that was one of two top choices for Dewey."
Alan tells us the merger was driven by geographic and practice group synergies: Dewey is strong in Italy, Germany, Great Britain, and Poland, and has a rapidly growing presence in China. LeBoeuf brings France and Brussels, and is opening in Hong Kong. The merger will double their position in London and New York. LeBoeuf adds strong practices in insurance, energy, and SEC enforcement to Dewey's established M&A, tax, capital markets, and other practices. The firms' similar sizes and cultures also make the merger attractive, Alan says. As in most marriages, there will be a name change–to Dewey & LeBoeuf.
Alan and his wife collect World War I posters and have about three dozen originals. This by Joseph Pennell shows German planes attacking lower Manhattan. On Sept. 11, Wolff remembers looking at this as the news broke from the Twin Towers. He sent a copy to Hillary Clinton.
Dewey, founded in the Big Apple, has been in DC since the early '70s. Alan says DC has become a more important location for global firms because of increasing regulation and Sarbanes-Oxley. In January, Dewey left its long-time perch on Pennsylvania Avenue for new digs in the East End. Alan says the move re-energized Dewey with a more open and airy environment. Another plus: They built a cafeteria (an espresso maker was top priority for the partnership) and an outdoor eating space.
Alan says managing the office normally takes about 10% of his time. Dewey's that rare breed where all lawyers (even in management) practice. He spends most of his time heading up the firm's international trade section. As a hobby, he collects photographs.
The quintessential DC transplant, Alan says he expected to stay a couple of years then go back home to New England. "This was always supposed to be temporary," he says. More than 30 years later, he's still loving life inside the Beltway.
A message from Alan about the effects of reality TV and trans fats? No, another piece in his WW I collection. This one's by James Montgomery Flagg, best known for his "I Want You" Army recruiting posters.
It was about 22 years ago that Alan got the call from Dewey to build an international trade group. He had the credentials: 12 years in the public sector, first in the Treasury Department and later in the Carter administration as deputy special trade representative. That experience inspired him to approach international trade in the private sector differently. At Dewey, he focused on hiring non-lawyers, including economists and linguists. At first, he concentrated on market-opening initiatives in Japan; now he zeroes in on China. It's a great racket: Last month, he jetted off to Beijing for both work and vacation.