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January 20, 2009 6:16 PM

Dewey & LeBoeuf: Hip-Hop's New Home?

Posted by Brian Baxter

The Am Law Daily was moderately excited about going to see the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious when it opened this past weekend until we read the review in The New York Times, which claimed that the movie was okay, but the soundtrack was better.

Then another Times story caught our eye. This one was about noted hip-hop magazine The Source deciding that it would no longer accept "booty ads" for pornographic films, Web sites, and escort services.

While we haven't picked up The Source since college, we kept reading nonetheless. After all, we're interested in pretty much anything these days that chronicles the slow, tortuous death of the beloved print medium on which we were raised.

McMillan, Londell

Then came the ultimate payoff. According to The Times, 42-year-old L. Londell McMillan became the new owner of The Source last year when he led an investor group that bought the struggling publication out of bankruptcy.

McMillan also happens to be the head of the entertainment, media, and sports group at Dewey & LeBoeuf in New York. Who knew?

Intrigued, we checked out McMillan's bio on D&L's Web site. (McMillan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Not surprisingly, McMillan boasts a stable of high-profile music industry clients like Prince, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Michael Jackson, Kanye West, and the estate of Sammy Davis, Jr. Corporate clients include (coincidentally) The New York Times, The Discovery Channel, and Mercedes Benz.

McMillan's bio also states that he's a business partner of real estate developer Bruce Ratner and rap mogul Jay-Z on their effort to bring the New Jersey Nets basketball team to Brooklyn.

According to a profile in Crain's New York Business several years ago, McMillan grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn and went on to attend law school at New York University. At NYU, McMillan started the Minority Roundtable, a nonprofit that encourages diversity within firms.

After law school, McMillan worked for a time as an associate at D&L predecessor LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and then took a job at New York entertainment boutique Gold, Farrell & Marks (now part of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal).

While with the latter in 1996, Crain's reports, McMillan was hired by Prince (at the time then known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince) to help the pop icon extricate himself from a multiyear contract with Warner Bros.

The process only took four months and it helped enhance McMillan's profile, enabling him to open his own firm in 1997. The McMillan Firm eventually grew to 20 lawyers, one of the largest minority-owned firms in New York. The firm opened an office in Los Angeles to cater to clients like Faith Evans, Russell Simmons, and Spike Lee.

In June 2007, McMillan joined LeBoeuf Lamb along with four other lawyers from his former firm. LeBoeuf Lamb subsequently merged with Dewey Ballantine in August 2007.

Now the lawyer-turned-investor is trying to clean things up at The Source.

"We don't want to just glorify the lowest-hanging fruit," McMillan told The Times about the self-imposed ban on lewd products in order to attract new advertisers. "There's a lot of people that want hip-hop but don't want some of the filth that some of the business carries with it."

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I love to see intelligent people associated with hip hop! I wish McMillan the best with helping to clean up the industry and reclaim a more positive image for the genre.

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