Learn why some law firms fail in this article.

Dewey & LeBoeuf was once a thriving international law firm with 1,000 attorneys, offices in 26 locations, profits of one million dollars per partner, and clients that included Walt Disney and eBay. But the firm fell apart, declaring bankruptcy and dissolving in 2012 amidst scandal and bleak finances. The firm's top leaders are currently on trial in New York for grand larceny and other charges stemming from alleged efforts to "cook the books" and conceal financial troubles.

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Dewey is not alone. Other large firms and countless small firms have also collapsed in recent decades, although most did not engage in bad dealings or alleged criminal activity. These firms include prestigious white-shoe firms like New York's Coudert Brothers and San Francisco's Heller Ehrman that managed to thrive for over a century before shuttering operations.