May 4, 2012 / 7:19 PM / 5 years ago

Exclusive: Ex-Dewey executive director hires counsel: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dewey & LeBoeuf has dismissed its executive director and he has retained a prominent criminal defense lawyer, a source close to the matter said, as the New York law firm suffered even more defections from its overseas offices.

People walk past a sign outside the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf in New York City May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Lee Celano

Stephen DiCarmine, until recently one of the highest ranking executives at the firm, was terminated within the last week, the source said. Last week, the firm informed its partners that the New York District Attorney launched an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by former Chairman Steven Davis.

No allegations of wrongdoing have been brought against DiCarmine. The reasons for his termination couldn’t be determined. Davis has denied any wrongdoing and DiCarmine did not return phone calls seeking comment.

DiCarmine has hired Edward Little, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, according to the source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. Little, a partner at law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, declined to comment on whether he had been hired in connection with the DA probe.

The firing of DiCarmine is just the latest sign of the turmoil at Dewey & LeBoeuf, until recently among the top 20 largest law firms in the United States. Since January, the firm has lost some 120 of its 300 partners amid a mounting debt crisis. To date, the struggling firm has tried and failed to find a merger partner.

Defections from the firm spread oversees Friday, with a wave of departures in the UK, Germany, Kazakhstan, UAE and Russia.

DiCarmine, who the source said has been given about two weeks to leave the firm, has a long working history with former firm Chairman Davis. Before his role as executive director at Dewey, he had the same title at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae where Davis was chairman before that firm merged with Dewey Ballantine in 2007.

On Friday, DiCarmine’s name did not appear on the firm’s website.

Reporting by Andrew Longstreth and Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Eric Effron and Amy Stevens; Editing by Richard Chang

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