Ex-Dewey Leader Davis Lands In-House Job With Arab Emirate

, The Am Law Daily

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A year and a half after Dewey & LeBoeuf's collapse and descent into bankruptcy, longtime firm chair Steven Davis has been hired by the government of Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates to serve as its top in-house legal adviser.

Davis, an energy lawyer who led Dewey predecessor firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae for four years and then occupied the same role at Dewey & LeBoeuf from its creation in 2007 until weeks before it filed for Chapter 11 protection in May 2012, is the last member of the Dewey management team to restart his career.

News of Davis’ new job was first reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal, which cited an internal government memo dated Dec. 8, 2013, that said Ras al Khaimah’s ruler, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, had appointed the former Dewey chair as the emirate's chief legal officer. In that position, Davis will be responsible for creating and overseeing a legal affairs division within the government’s investment and development office, according to the Journal.

A public relations representative for Davis, Brandy Bergman, confirmed the substance of the Journal story but declined further comment when contacted by The Am Law Daily.

In taking the job, Davis will relocate from New York—where he was based throughout his time at both LeBoeuf Lamb and then Dewey—to an arid emirate that sits in the northern reaches of the UAE. Ras al Khaimah— which is home to less than 250,000 people—does not produce oil like wealthy neighbors Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and depends instead on such industries as real estate, cement production and tourism.

Even before Dewey's bankruptcy filing, Davis had begun to attract much of the blame for what ultimately became the largest law firm failure in U.S. history.

The Manhattan D.A.’s office has reportedly been investigating Davis and other Dewey leaders to determine whether they engaged in any criminal activity connected to the firm's collapse. In a sign that that an inquiry may not yet be done, former Dewey executive director Stephen DiCarmine recently hired a criminal defense lawyer, though both he and Davis have denied any wronging (DiCarmine has been taking fashion classes at Parsons The New School for Design). Dewey’s third primary leader, ex–chief financial officer Joel Sanders, is now the CFO of Florida firm Greenspoon Marder.

Davis was barred from participating in a $72 million settlement reached with hundreds of the firm’s former partners that gave them waivers from most Dewey-related liability in exchange for cash payments. He ultimately struck his own deal that calls for him to contribute $511,145 to the Dewey estate. Under the settlement's terms, Davis must pay the estate a sum equal to 8 percent of his annual earnings each year for the next six years, beginning on March 22, 2014. Whatever amount he has not paid off by 2019 is to be forgiven, according to the deal's structure.

Before Dewey's demise, the firm had Middle East outposts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. News reports show that Dewey advised the Ras al Khaimah Investment Authority in May 2011 on its multimillion-dollar disposal of a majority stake in Poti Sea Port Corporation. The firm also represented a Ras al Khaimah real estate developer, Rakeen Development PJSC, in connection with a $250 million debt refinancing. The bulk of Dewey’s Dubai team is now with Dechert. Its Abu Dhabi office joined Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and its lone Saudi Arabia partner is with Patton Boggs.

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