Musical Chairs, Old People

Musical Chairs: Former New York D.A. Bob Morgenthau to Wachtell Lipton

Robert Morgenthau Robert Morris Morgenthau Robert M Morgenthau Bob Morgenthau.jpgPerhaps Herb Wachtell and Marty Lipton wanted some company as Legendary Old Dudes at 51 West 52nd Street. From the Associated Press:

Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has joined the New York-based law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Morgenthau retired at age 90 as district attorney, after 35 years in the job.

In a release Wednesday, Morgenthau said he’s long admired Wachtell Lipton. He said it has helped to advance the law and the legal profession.

As well as the residential real estate markets in Manhattan and Westchester County. Wachtell Lipton routinely tops the American Lawyer’s list of the nation’s most profitable large law firms. The firm had profits per partner of just over $4 million in 2008, according to the 2009 Am Law 100 survey.

The firm represents many financial institutions.

That’s an understatement. The firm’s financial institutions group, led by the unstoppable Ed Herlihy, is second to none in the field of banking M&A (with the possible exception of Sullivan & Cromwell’s FIG group, headed by Rodge Cohen).
So what can Bob Morgenthau expect while working at the CBS Building?

Wachtell Lipton is a famously hard-charging, hardworking firm. During our time there, from 2000 to 2003, we worked around 2700 hours a year — and felt like slackers. But don’t expect the 90-year-old Morgenthau to pull all-nighters (although old people do need less sleep). He will likely spend much of his time at the firm sitting in his office and reading the newspaper, like other graybeards at Wachtell over the years — e.g., former NYU Law Dean Norman Redlich; former name partner Leonard Rosen (whom we sat down the hall from).
Maybe Morgenthau will get involved in some pro bono matters. And maybe the firm will let him submit his Seamless Web dinner order at 3:30 PM.
(Stuff old people like: pro bono work; early dinners; adult diapers. And tapioca pudding. YUM.)
We’re guessing the firm is bringing in Morgenthau primarily for his name and his marquee value — especially in the white-collar area, a focus of Morgenthau’s during his tenure as D.A., and a growing priority at Wachtell Lipton over the past half-decade or so. [FN1] The firm will trot him out for the occasional client meeting, where he will nod his 90-year-old head — sagely, not sleepily — and dispense a sentence or two of wisdom, like the Oracle of Delphi. Clients will feel better when they get an unitemized legal bill for a seven-figure sum, since they got to meet the Robert Morgenthau as part of the deal.
It sounds like a win-win situation. Wachtell gets a gravitas infusion; despite its sky-high profits, the firm is a relative upstart compared to some of its older, WASPier competitors. Morgenthau will surely enjoy that hefty paycheck after decades as a public servant.
Congratulations to Morgenthau and to Wachtell Lipton on their high-profile match!
[FN1] The firm is still most well-known for its merger work, but it has beefed up its capacity in the white-collar realm over the past few years. David Anders — another prominent prosecutor, who handled the WorldCom case while in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office — joined WLRK in 2006 (and made partner in 2008). Wayne Carlin, former head of the SEC’s Northeast Regional Office, joined the firm in January 2004, as a partner. It’s rare for Wachtell to bring in lateral partners, but Carlin’s high-ranking government post gave him the requisite clout.
UPDATE: We’ve learned that Morgenthau has already started at the firm. He has an office on the 31st floor, the “power floor” — home to Messrs. Wachtell and Lipton.
Ex-Manhattan DA joins law firm [Associated Press via Am Law Daily]
Morgenthau, 90, Lands at Hard-Charging Wachtell Lipton [WSJ Law Blog]

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