Musical Chairs, Robert Link

Musical Chairs: Bob Link, Former Cadwalader Chairman, Retires

So ends the legal career of Robert Link, former chairman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. The New York Law Journal reports that Link has retired from legal practice:

The unannounced departure took place July 1, Link, 55, said Thursday. Link, the firm’s former chairman and managing partner, left Cadwalader after being replaced as chairman in 2008 and later being left off of the firm’s management committee.

Speaking from one of his homes in Vermont, Link said the retirement was his choice. He said he has no plans to return to the practice of law, though he may take a job in the public interest arena.

“I don’t have to work if I don’t want to,” Link said. “But I will.”

Link made enough money for Cadwalader that many of his former partners don’t have to work if they don’t want to. Remember his fabulous $6 million Hamptons house? Now he has more time to enjoy it.

But Link also leaves behind a legacy that put many associates out of work…

The WSJ Law Blog nicely summarizes Link’s complicated legacy:

Link’s tenure at Cadwalader is perhaps more interesting than that of most law-firm leaders. He is generally credited with making Cadwalader a leaner, meaner place. In the 1990s, he and other firm leaders, cut less productive partners and began awarding partners who brought in business with more compensation. In 2006, profits per partner hit an all-time high of $2.9 million.

Throughout the early part of the decade, Cadwalader beefed up on its securitization work. The real estate bust and credit-crises hit the firm hard; it became one of the first firms to engage in large -scale layoffs in January 2008.

Staff up in good times and glom onto hot practice areas, then mercilessly cut during tough times, in order to “right-size” your workforce. It’s not the way that many so-called “white shoe” law firms tend to operate, but it is a business strategy that can make a lot of money.

And because of that strategy, even though Link’s legal career may be over, his influence will continue to ripple throughout Biglaw.

Former Leader of Cadwalader Quietly Retires [New York Law Journal]
A Look at the Legacy of Bob Link, Former Cadwalader Chair [WSJ Law Blog]

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