Biglaw, FCC, JPMorgan Chase, Partner Issues, R. Ted Cruz, Television, Wall Street, Yul Kwon

Musical Chairs: Legal Celebrities on the Move
(Including the energy lawyers going from MWE to CWT.)

Ted Cruz

A new year, a new job. That seems to be the thinking of many within the legal profession, based on the proliferation of professional moves we have to report (and not just out of Howrey).

We’ll start with one move that’s aspirational rather than actual. Legal and political superstar Ted Cruz — the Morgan Lewis partner who heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and who was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years — will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the good senatrix Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Check out the announcement on his website, or read this BLT post.

Like many lawyers turned politicians, including our current president, the 40-year-old Cruz is a Harvard Law grad (and one of The Elect — Rehnquist / OT 1996). Graduates of HLS’s rival to the south, Yale Law School, tend to take more quirky paths.

Yul Kwon

That brings us to the second move of the day. YLS grad Yul Kwon — a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor, and one of People’s “sexiest men alive” (in 2006) — has left the Federal Communications Commission. Kwon served as deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the Commission.

Instead of working at the FCC, Kwon, 35, will be regulated by it: he’s going to be the host of a new television series on PBS, America Revealed (which sounds pretty cool). Read more from the FCC (press release), Bloomberg, and the Washington Post.

More moves — a Cravath partner’s jump over to Wall Street, and the defection of many McDermott energy lawyers to Cadwalader — after the jump.

James Woolery

Our next transition is a big one for Biglaw. As noted over at our sister site Dealbreaker, James Woolery, a 41-year-old partner at Cravath, has been picked by JPMorgan to serve as co-head of North American mergers and acquisitions (alongside Chris Ventresca). There aren’t many jobs that would give a CSM partner a pay raise, but leading North American M&A for JPMorgan is one of them.

As noted by Bloomberg, there’s a fine tradition of law firm partners becoming bankers: “In 2000, Cravath partner Robert Kindler left to become a banker at Chase Manhattan Corp., now part of JPMorgan, and another partner, George Bilicic, went to Merrill Lynch & Co. In 2005, Dennis Hersch left Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP to join JPMorgan.”

Finally, here’s the news of the MWE to CWT energy lawyer exodus, from a story by Amanda Becker in the Washington Post:

A major Wall Street firm plans to announce that it has lured away a group of lawyers from a rival’s D.C.-based energy and commodities practice, part of a push by law firms to expand their Washington footprint in an era of increased regulatory scrutiny.

As many as nine partners from McDermott, Will & Emery, a firm with origins in Chicago, are expected to join New York-based Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in the coming days, likely bringing along dozens of junior lawyers.

According to the Post, two of the lawyers making the move are Paul J. Pantano Jr., co-head of McDermott’s energy and commodities group, and Karen A. Dewis, co-head of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice.

UPDATE (7:40 PM): According to Becker of the Post, other McDermott partners who will be joining Cadwalader include Gregory Mocek, head of MWE’s defense team in the energy area; Daryl L. Rice, co-head of the energy trading team; regulatory head Kenneth W. Irvin; and Gregory K. Lawrence (in New York), who also chaired the renewables group.

UPDATE (1/21/11): From the WSJ Law Blog: “Also expected to join are Doron Ezickson in London and Robert Stephens in Houston.”

The WaPo notes the dramatic ups and downs — lately, more of the former than the latter — of Cadwalader as a law firm:

Cadwalader, like many firms, laid off hundreds of lawyers in 2008 and 2009 as it struggled to adjust to a falloff in demand for its corporate and dealmaking services. But the firm’s financial performance rebounded sharply in 2009, with the profits per partner increasing to $2.4 million, a 28 percent jump over the year before, according to figures reported by the American Lawyer. The firm is among the 10 most profitable in the country.

McDermott downplayed the departures, in statements to the WSJ Law Blog:

Said a McDermott Will spokesman, in response: “While we are sorry to see these partners go, these moves do not change McDermott’s strong commitment to our many diverse clients operating within the global energy industry.” The spokesman added that the departing partners’ “total collections in 2010 amounted to a small percentage of McDermott Will revenue. “Whereas these departing partners focused mainly on commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients, McDermott’s global Energy capabilities are far broader than that.”

McDermott can try to minimize the move, but it’s widely viewed as a Cadwalader coup. As noted by the ABA Journal, once the nine or so partners are joined by some of their associates, the move “could include dozens of lawyers.”

We’re planning more detailed coverage of this major move tomorrow. If you have information or opinion that you would like to be reflected in our post (anonymously), please email us or text us. Thanks.

Major Announcement: Running for U.S. Senate [Ted Cruz: Republican for U.S. Senate]
Appellate Litigator Ted Cruz Is Running for Senate [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Yul Kwon Leaves the FCC [FCC (press release)]
FCC loses ‘Survivor’ winner/sexiest man Yul Kwon [Post Tech / Washington Post]
‘Sexiest Man’ Leaves U.S. FCC to Join Public Television Series [Bloomberg]
JPMorgan Hires Lawyer To Co-Head M&A [Dealbreaker]
JPMorgan Said to Hire Cravath Lawyer Woolery to Co-Head Mergers [Bloomberg]
Wall Street firm targets District-based energy practice [Washington Post]
Cadwalader to Land Large Energy Group from McDermott, Will [WSJ Law Blog]
WaPo: McDermott Energy Group Expected to Join Cadwalader Could Include Dozens of Lawyers [ABA Journal]

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