Six months after seeking bankruptcy protection amid the largest law firm collapse in U.S. history, Dewey & LeBoeuf has finalized a plan designed to repay creditors a portion of more than $600 million in total debt while liquidating the remnants of what was until earlier this year a 1,300-lawyer enterprise.
In a bevy of Thanksgiving eve filings that serve as Deweys official Chapter 11 plan and disclosure statement, the advisers guiding the defunct firm through bankruptcy detail what led to its downfall, highlight what they believe they have accomplished so far, and lay out how they envision divvying up whatever money they are able to bring in.
Chief among the estates achievements to date, according to the latest batch of filings, is the successful execution of a so-called partner contribution plan with roughly 400 former Dewey attorneys that is expected to yield $71.5 million for the estate. (Those who agreed to participate in the plan can neither sue nor be sued by the estate).
Most of that sum is earmarked for Deweys secured creditors, a group that includes lead Dewey lender JPMorgan Chase and, according to the Dewey team, is owed a combined total of $261 million. The estate proposes in court filings to treat an additional $100 million originally listed as secured debt as unsecured debt instead. Companies that entered property or equipment leases with Dewey have filed another $44.5 million in secured debt claims, the filings say.
According to the disclosure statement filed as part of the bankruptcy planwhich must be approved by the court and the firms creditors before a proposed liquidation can proceed80 percent of the first $67.5 million to be raised via the partner contribution plan as well as the same percentage of an as-yet-unspecified amount of unfinished business claims to be brought against firms that hired Dewey partners will go toward paying off secured debt.
Secured lenders will also get any of the estimated $218.6 million in unpaid bills the estate manages to collection, as well as most of the money that comes in as a result of mismanagement claims, insurance claims, or the disposal of other firm assets.
The firms unsecured creditorswhich the disclosure statement lists as having claims totaling $284.9 millionare to get whatever remains after the secured creditors are repaid.
Deweys advisersa group that includes lead bankruptcy lawyer Albert Togut and chief restructuring officer Joff Mitchellargue forcefully in the filings that their proposal represents the best and quickest path out of Chapter 11 for the once-proud firm. They propose that a hearing on the plan be scheduled for January 3, that objections be filed by February 11, and that confirmation hearing be set for February 27.
The Debtor does not believe that there is a viable alternative for completing the Bankruptcy Case Other than through confirmation of the Plan, the Dewey team states in one filing, adding that any alternative other than confirmation of the Plan could result in extensive delays and increased administrative expenses, thereby resulting in smaller distributions on account of claims and interest in the Debtor.
The estate currently estate employs 37 peopleincluding dissolution committee members and former Dewey partners Stephen Horvath and Janis Meyerwho are helping to wind down the firms operations. The filings note that Horvath and Meyer will no longer work for the firm once a bankruptcy plan is approved, and will receive all the protections provided by the partner contribution plan.