Therefore, Dewey & LeBouef's chairman Steven Davis should have known to be cautious about what he put in writing. Even uneducated Tony Soprano knew that. On "The Sopranos," when he had something sensitive to announce or discuss he would do that in a room in his medical doctor's office. He didn't issue a memo.
Davis did issue a memo. Of course it got out here. Among other things it announced layoffs of lawyers and staff. The tone, in this era of so much loss of jobs, got the attention of the media. Of course I covered it. When partners began defecting from the firm, the story grew. A nice wrinkle was that the departures happened in waves. All the more to cover.
Now Dewey & LeBoeuf is doing damage control. The first step, of course, is introducing change. As Julie Triedman reports in AM LAW DAILY, the partners still there have created a proposed 5-member Office of the Chairman. If approved by the other partners that would replace the structure in which Davis is the sole chairman. The group could put its heads together before putting anything in writing. With the matter of layoffs, they should have been approached on a personal level, with heads of practice groups first alerting personnel that this would happening. When it happened, the personnel would be notified in person by their supervisor.
Live and learn. Dewey & LeBouef could have learned plenty from this. If it has then it will leverage all the current media attention to tell its new branding story. Shrewd public relations leaders like Bob Dilenschneider taught the equally one-time buttoned down world of Corporate America that there isn't necessarily such an entity as bad publicity.
Given the current volatility in professional life, in a sense we are blessed with being presented with so many lemons that we can turn into an abundance of lemonade. Davis might be the luckiest guy in the world.