Biglaw, General Counsel, In-House Counsel, Morgan Stanley, Musical Chairs, Wall Street

Musical Chairs: Frank Barron Leaves Cravath for Morgan Stanley

It’s not every day that a partner leaves the storied firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. But it’s not every day that a suitor with comparable prestige, wealth, and WASPiness comes calling. Dealbook reports:

Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that it has hired Francis P. Barron, a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as its chief legal officer. Mr. Barron will replace Gary G. Lynch, who will remain with Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman in London…. The hiring is the latest management shake-up under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive since the beginning of the year.

At Cravath, where he has worked for 32 years, Mr. Barron specialized in litigation, corporate matters and advising boards. Among his clients are financial firms like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS and Goldman Sachs, as well as General Electric.

Moving from a law firm to Wall Street isn’t uncommon. On New York magazine’s recent list of hottest Wall Street bachelors — co-authored by Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, and Jessica Pressler — two out of the 15 “foxes of finance” have law degrees (one from Harvard and one from Seton Hall).

A move at this high a level, from a Cravath partnership to an investment bank, is less common. But such moves happen — and, interestingly enough, Frank Barron isn’t even the first ex-Cravath partner to wind up in a top position at Morgan Stanley….

Already at Morgan Stanley is Robert Kindler, a former partner at Cravath. Kindler initially left Cravath for JPMorgan Chase, then moved on to Morgan Stanley, where he became vice chairman of investment banking. Now Kindler and Barron are once again colleagues (although Kindler was an M&A lawyer at Cravath and Barron was a litigator, and now, at Morgan Stanley, Kindler is on the business side and Barron is the chief legal officer).

Mobility is a fact of life these days — even for Cravath partners. When I interviewed Rob Kindler for a piece in the New York Observer, he had this to say:

When I started in the law, in 1980, people didn’t move around a lot. Now young people starting out in law or business expect that they’re going to have three or four different careers in their time.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Congratulations to Francis Barron on his new post, and good luck in transitioning from law-firm life to the in-house world.

Morgan Stanley Hires Cravath Partner as Legal Chief [Dealbook]
Morgan Stanley Taps Francis Barron As New Legal Chief [Dow Jones]
Do You Believe in Life After Law? [New York Observer]
Robert Kindler: “It’s Easier to be a Lawyer than it is to be a Banker” [WSJ Law Blog]

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