Joe Shenker Sullivan Managing Partner.JPGToday H. Rodgin Cohen officially moves his Subaru into the right-hand lane, making way for Joseph C. Shenker to take the pole position as Sullivan & Cromwell’s new managing partner. Rodge will still be around, but leadership of the firm shifts to Shenker. Both the New York Times and Am Law Daily have marked this momentous occasion with write-ups on Shenker today.
Reading about Shenker reveals that there are three kinds of people in life: people who work for Goldman Sachs, people who work with Goldman Sachs, and people who lose:

Mr. Shenker, whose practice ranges from mergers and acquisitions to real estate to tax and estate planning, may not be the highly connected banking lawyer that Mr. Cohen is. But he maintains a sterling reputation of his own, maintaining close relationships with real estate magnates and one of the firm’s most significant clients: Goldman Sachs.

It appears that becoming managing partner of S&C is just the latest in a long list of accomplishments in Shenker’s career.


Shenker has done more by 53 than many lawyers will do in a lifetime:

He became Sullivan & Cromwell’s youngest-ever partner at 29 years old and a star lawyer in the 1980s by making a splash in securitization. He worked on the first-ever real estate transaction financed in the commercial paper market: Goldman’s 1983 financing of its headquarters at 85 Broad St. in lower Manhattan.

“Goldman then templated that deal for their clients,” Mr. Shenker told DealBook. “They then built a big business selling securitized real estate products to their clients and I was their major counsel in doing that all over the world.”

He built on that experience to become an expert on complicated real estate financing deals.

Securitization? Real estate? Wait a minute, Shenker isn’t one of the people who played a small role in ruining the American economy, is he?

“The securitization market was in its infancy in the middle 80s and Joe was on the ground floor of that industry,” Ralph Rosenberg, a former Goldman executive, told DealBook. “He was the chief architect of the entire evolution for that business.”

In hindsight, isn’t being a chief architect of real estate securitization, like, really really bad?

Securitization has had its ups and downs, but Mr. Shenker has helped Sullivan & Cromwell win clients at both ends of the cycle.

Ups and downs? Well, in other news from the land of ridiculous understatement, Tiger Woods’s marriage has had its ups and downs.
In fairness, Goldman Sachs has weathered this recession like Lieutenant Dan sitting on top of a shrimp boat. History suggests that Shenker’s advice was loads better than whoever the hell Lehman Brothers listened to.
Speaking of weathering the recession, with the exception of some stealth layoffs last year, S&C apparently has been doing just fine for itself.
There’s every reason to believe that Shenker’s leadership will be just as profitable (and prestigious) as Cohen’s. And who knows, maybe the new guy will even respond to emails from your friendly Above the Law editors.
Stepping Into Rodge Cohen’s Role [Am Law Daily]
For Law Firm’s New Chief, Challenges Abound [Dealbook]
Earlier: Breaking: Rodge Cohen Drives a Subaru!
Update Potpourri on Sullivan & Cromwell


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