Biglaw, Lateral Moves, Media and Journalism, Mergers and Acquisitions, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Wall Street

Musical Chairs: A Prominent Deal Lawyer’s Unusual Move

He’s going to Disney World? No, not this veteran M&A lawyer….

Let’s say you graduated from a leading college, summa cum laude, and from an elite law school, also summa. You began your legal career as a transactional lawyer at one white-shoe law firm, where you made partner. You left that firm for investment banking, where you encountered significant success. Then you returned to the legal world, first as an M&A partner at one top firm, then at another. At your final firm, you served as global co-chair of the firm’s renowned mergers and acquisitions group, working on some of the biggest deals around the world.

Then, in your 70s, you decide to leave your firm and also the legal world. Where would you go next?

The lawyer we’re describing should be a familiar figure to members of the M&A bar: Charles M. Nathan, most recently of counsel at Latham & Watkins. Check out his amazing bio:

At Latham & Watkins, Nathan represented companies and financial advisors in many significant, high-profile mergers and acquisitions, including some of the largest domestic and global M&A transactions in recent years….

Prior to Latham & Watkins, Nathan was a Partner with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Before that, he was a Managing Director and head of the Financial Institutions M&A practice at Smith Barney Inc., as well as Managing Director and Co-Head of domestic M&A at Salomon Brothers. He is the renowned author of many articles on M&A and corporate governance topics, is a frequent panelist at M&A and corporate governance seminars and programs, teaches M&A at Yale Law School, and has chaired a number of bar association committees. Nathan received his B.A. from John Hopkins University and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he graduated summa cum laude.

Nathan started his post-YLS legal career at Cleary Gottlieb, where he also worked as a partner before leaving for the world of finance.

Whew! Got all that? Dealmaker résumés don’t get much better than that. In terms of specific transactions, Nathan has worked on such matters as the $45 billion Roche / Genentech deal and the $52 billion InBev / Anheuser-Busch deal.

So where is Charles Nathan going from here? After decades of hard (and lucrative) work on headline-grabbing transactions, he’d be entitled to take his talents to South Beach — and retire to a life of sun, sand, and surf.

But that’s not what he’s doing; he’s staying in the workforce. The WSJ’s Deal Journal reports:

Charles Nathan, who had been global co-chair of mergers and acquisitions at Latham & Watkins, has retired from the law firm and joined communications advisory firm RLM Finsbury.

Nathan will become a partner and senior adviser at RLM Finsbury, working with clients on M&A communications, according to a release from the PR firm. Also joining the firm is former New York Times reporter Stephen Labaton, who started his own public affairs firm in Washington a few years ago.

Charles “Chuck” Nathan

So wait — Charles Nathan is going to a PR firm? It’s quite natural for a journalist like Stephen Labaton — who is, by the way, the son of prominent trial lawyer Edward Labaton of Labaton Sucharow — to go into public relations. But it seems quite unusual for an M&A lawyer to make such a move. When journalists leave for PR firms, they typically see a big jump in their pay; the same could not be said for Latham lawyers.

On the other hand, given all the years he has spent in Biglaw and in banking, Chuck Nathan doesn’t need to worry about his compensation. Presumably he’s going into communications because he thinks he’ll enjoy it.

There’s good reason to expect he’ll excel at it. Nathan is an excellent and prolific writer, having written widely on issues of M&A and corporate governance. And he’s great at speaking to journalists, as I know firsthand. I interviewed him back in 2007 for a New York Times piece I wrote on billing in the M&A context, and he was a great source — insightful, well-spoken, and witty.

Here’s what Walter Montgomery, CEO of RLM Finsbury, had to say about Nathan’s hiring:

“Chuck offers strong judgment, shrewd tactical insights, and a distinctive ability to develop communications strategies that resonate with shareholders and other key audiences, while taking into account the relevant legal and regulatory considerations which can impact outcomes. These unique skillsets require intellectual rigor and a deft touch; qualities that continue to stand as hallmarks of this Firm.”

Congratulations to Chuck Nathan on his latest move, and congratulations to RLM Finsbury on their newest hire. In the world of mergers and acquisitions, this is one acquisition that should turn out well.

(If you’re interested, flip ahead to the next page and behold Chuck Nathan’s breathtaking bio.)

Latham & Watkins M&A co-Chair Retires, Joins PR Firm [Deal Journal / Wall Street Journal]
When $1,000 an Hour Is Not Enough [DealBook / New York Times]

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