Wall Street

Davis Polk: Making Bank

Davis Polk Wardwell DPW Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been providing extensive coverage of the unfolding financial crisis (as have our colleagues at our sister site, Dealbreaker). In several recent posts — see, e.g., here and here — we’ve discussed the Biglaw winners and losers with respect to the Wall Street meltdown.

One evident winner: Davis Polk & Wardwell. Several DPW sources forwarded us an email that was circulated yesterday, trumpeting how busy the firm is these days and how many engagements it has landed arising out of what the memo calls “recent financial markets matters” (aka “the late unpleasantness”).

One Davis tipster writes:

[This email] went out to all lawyers. I suppose it’s their way of saying things are pretty great at the firm. Let’s hope bonus season will confirm this view!

The supposedly internal memo reads a bit like a press release. It was sent out not by a partner but by Kevin Cavanaugh, the firm’s director of business development.

We suspect that the memo is a bit of “blog bait” from Davis Polk. Naturally, we’re happy to take it.

Check out the full memo, after the jump.

The memo appears below. It provides further support to the theory of this commenter:

“There will be a continued flight to quality by this now smaller field of NY players. So, S&C, WLRK, CS&M and the other elites will be fine (with lower PPPs, to be sure). Downstream firms… not so much. This is bad news for corporate lawyers. Agree – worse than ’02.”

I’m in the middle of this, and the above is 100% right. Go read the book “The Winner Take all Society.” This is where S&C and Cravath and WLRK take over and the TTTs die hard. The top firms have strong inst’l relationships and will be fine (e.g., S&C w/ Goldman Sachs, which isn’t doing pretty well). And the firms with strong int’l exposure will excel especially (Skadden, S&C, DPW).

This is actually a good oppty for law students who can get CSM, S&C, DPW, Skadden, etc. These firms aren’t going anywhere, and might, ironically, do BETTER in bad times than in good, b/c now they’re not competing w/ all the TTTs like Cadwalader.


From: Kevin A. Cavanaugh On Behalf Of Management Committee

Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 5:44 PM

To: all.dpw

Subject: Recent Financial Markets Matters

The ongoing events within the financial services industry and the broader economic markets are truly unprecedented. As would be expected, the firm has been at the center of all of these events. We thought it would be useful to provide a brief summary of our roles in some of the largest and most notable recent matters:

· Lead counsel to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the $85 billion transaction with AIG

· Primary outside counsel to Citi in matters pertaining to Lehman’s bankruptcy filing and one of the principal architects of the $77 billion bank liquidity facility

· Lead counsel to Freddie Mac in the government’s conservatorship of the company and commitment to provide it with up to $100 billion of direct financial assistance

· The firm is also advising numerous clients on related non-public matters

While all of these historic events have been transpiring, we have also maintained our usual high level of activity on the most important “non-credit-crisis-related” work for our clients, such as Roche’s $44 billion bid to acquire Genentech, CVS Caremark’s contested $2.9 billion acquisition of Longs Drug Stores and Morgan Stanley’s repurchase of up to approximately $4.5 billion of auction rate securities. In addition to this activity on corporate matters, our litigation practice continues to handle various major and multifaceted cases, such as representing Siemens in ongoing criminal and regulatory matters relating to corruption allegations and AstraZeneca in multijurisdictional federal and state litigation involving reimbursement amounts paid by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.

Our appreciation goes out to all of you who have been working so tirelessly as of late. The various roles played by the firm in so many of the recent matters that have dominated the headlines are a testament to the exceptional ability and effort that Davis Polk lawyers bring to such complex and high-stakes situations. They also reflect how well positioned the firm is across our practice areas to assist traditional clients, as well as other leading companies and financial institutions, as they address these momentous issues. Wherever market events head we expect our strong and diversified practice to continue to be at the center of these matters and we thank all of you for your efforts in making this happen.

The Management Committee

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments