Dewey & LeBoeuf’s bankruptcy filing has shed some light into the inner workings of that once-august institution and provided fodder for reams of commentary. Most of the commentary falls under the heading of “What Went Wrong.”
I saw something else in that filing. In the list of Dewey’s “top 20 unsecured creditors” that accompanied the firm’s first-day bankruptcy filing was tangible proof of the central importance of library services to the existence of law firms, and just how substantial firms’ economic relationships with their vendors of legal research products are.
Within that top 20 were some usual suspects — an estimated $80 million in pension obligations, about $5.2 million in rent and property taxes, and almost $5 million in outsourced staffing. [Our emphasis] But what stood out for me were the identities of the firm’s third-, sixth-, and twelfth-largest unsecured debts: almost $2.4 million due to Thomson Reuters (which now owns West Publishing); more than $1.4 million due to LexisNexis; and more than $650,000 owed to a third vendor, also categorized as “library services-legal research.” In total, $4.5 million was owed to just three vendors of legal research products and services.
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