Scattered to the Wind

At law firms, it is said, the assets go up and down the elevators.

So, in December, when Marc Dreier allegedly committed the financial crime of the century (at least until the following week, when Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme was unveiled), the bankruptcy that immediately followed emptied those elevators, sending qualified attorneys who once-recently-had felt secure in their positions out into the job market to become an asset to another firm.

The 250-person firm Dreier spent more than a decade building toppled by Christmas like a house of cards; to say that it crumbled implies a slower-than-realistic dissolution. Its Web site shuttered; when MAJ called Dreier's firm, an individual working the phones who asked to remain unnamed said "nobody is really affiliated with the firm anymore," and could not identify any members of its respective practices, nevermind where they sought employment refuge.

Apparently, in a rare case, this bankruptcy still left those least-privy to the company's operations still employed. The receptionist pointed out that other firms affiliated with Dreier had severed their ties to the accused attorney as well.

Dreier's affiliation with Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods George LLP, a firm with which the accused attorney is affiliated but does not own, watched earlier this year as nearly two dozen of its professionals fled. Now, according to reports, the remainder of the firm is in need of a merger. An individual who, out of either a sense of embarrassment or irony, answered that office's phones simply declaring, "law office," declined to comment.

Berry, Block & Bernstein, a management consultants group launched by Dreier's firm, was also swept up in the bankruptcy, and has closed, said its managing principal, Philip A. Berry. Now, Berry said, he will establish his own practice. Andrew Bernstein and Richard Block, the two Dreier attorneys for whom the consulting practice is named, did not respond to calls; their voice mail each did not indicate that either had found new employment. These two Dreier attorneys were among 20 from the firm named to the New York Super Lawyers 2008 list; both practice employment litigation. Dreier himself was named to that superlative checklist.

Dreier did not have a practice solely dedicated to M&A transactions, an individual familiar with its dissolution pointed out, but its corporate practice contained attorneys with expertise in this field, judging by cached files stored on the Internet from Dreier's site. Dreier LLP also worked on bankruptcy and reorganizations. Many Dreier professionals' voicemails were altered as they left the firm to reflect that they have taken new employment with firms, others simply referred listeners to personal phone numbers.

An individual who described himself as intimately familiar with the firm's dissolution said that most of the firm's corporate practice could not be accounted for. Glenn Burlingame, who, cached Dreier Web files say, acted on behalf of the corporate practice representing clients for "mergers and acquisitions, bank and lease financings, private placements, venture capital financings" and other transactions, was not at his office; e-mails went ignored, but the source with the firm MAJ spoke with indicated that he has indeed found new work-but could not say where.

Bruce Bronster, who worked with Burlingame in at least one publicly announced transaction, found greener pastures at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, his voicemail stated.

It is said that Dreier's sister-in-law, which the source confirmed is Nina Grayson, who cached Web files called co-managing partner of the corporate and securities team at Dreier, is yet to find employment. Provided she can successfully distance herself from her boss and brother-in-law, Grayson, who also has experience as partner in the Business Department and a member of the corporate and securities and M&A practice groups of Dechert LLP, should not have too much difficulty landing on her feet.

Valerie Price, a partner with the corporate and securities team, did not respond to calls; the individual familiar with the firm's bankruptcy said that as of early January, she remained with the firm. Paul Traub, one of the members of the firm's bankruptcy and restructuring practice, continues to weigh options but has not yet taken employment with any team, he said.

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