In this economic climate, bankruptcy partners are worth their weight in gold. Expect to see more lateral movement in the bankruptcy bar, as marquee names get courted by firms seeking greater presence in the area.
In response to inquiries from ATL, spokespersons at Cadwalader and Greenberg Traurig issued this joint statement:
We can confirm that Bruce Zirinsky and John Bae have tendered their resignation at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and have accepted offers to join Greenberg Traurig shortly.
Congrats to Greenberg Traurig on their new hires. GT seems to be growing despite the downturn, as reflected in their most recent press releases.
As for Cadwalader, all’s fair in love and lateral moves. The firm is losing two bankruptcy partners, at a time when they’re in high demand. But recall that, back in March 2007, CWT raided another firm for Chapter 11 champs of its own: George Davis, Deryck Palmer, John Rapisardi and Andrew Troop, who left the storied bankruptcy group of Weil Gotshal for Cadwalader.
Reflections on what the Zirinsky and Bae defections mean for CWT, after the jump.
We are pleased to announce that the Firm will award year-end bonuses to associates and counsel as follows. Bonuses will be based on previously communicated criteria and are expected to be paid in January 2009. Associates who joined the Firm subsequent to January 1, 2008 and prior to October 1, 2008 will receive a pro-rated portion of the bonus.
The reference to “previously communicated criteria,” we’re told, is a reference to CWT’s hours requirement.
The difficult economic environment and the severe dislocations in markets worldwide present unique opportunities, challenges and issues regarding fixed income securities, structured finance, synthetic, and hybrid products, whole loans, and derivatives. Now, more than ever, financial market participants need legal advisors with the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complex array of contractual rights, financial structures, and bankruptcy and regulatory issues associated with such financial instruments.
Well that’s a positive spin on a field of legal work that no longer exists. But hey, they’re Cadwalader. And you know what the firm motto was (from the other side of the T-shirt):
Cadwalader is a firm you can count on from the cradle to the grave (disclaimer: time and placement of the grave may not be of your own choosing). Our tipster reports:
This is a t-shirt (front & back) from Cadwalader (Charlotte)ʼs 2007 Capital Markets summer picnic. It is a size 3 toddler which makes it even more hysterical/ironic/classic.
There’s got to be more stuff like this floating around out there. Please send us your “ironic” firm swag to email@example.com.
Former Cadwalader chairman Bob Link is being left off of the firm’s 2009 management committee. The news was told to the partnership during a meeting today. Link himself confirmed the news to AmLaw Daily:
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s former chairman and current managing partner Robert Link Jr. was not included on a recommended slate of candidates for the firm’s management committee given to partners today, a source at Cadwalader says.
The slate, recommended by the management committee, will not be acted on for another few weeks, the source says. Link, reached by phone, confirmed his name was not on the list.
“It really is part of our normal succession,” Link says. “It’s not something I’ve been part of planning for.”
Charlotte managing partner Jim Carroll is also out of the 2009 management loop.
The Lawyer, which first broke the news of Link’s ouster on Monday, reports that Cadwalader’s future is still very much up in the air:
But Link’s removal from power is far from the end of the story. Cadwalader has been reeling for months. Collapsed core markets, major lawyer layoffs and now a palace revolt, 2008 will go down as arguably the worst in Cadwalader’s 216-year history.
Inevitably, questions have been raised about the long-term future of the firm. How things play out later this week may offer some clues as to its shape, whatever that may be.
But one parting shot from CWT to the associates they laid off, after the jump.
To prevent you from jumping out your windows, we’re revisiting a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this month on the silver lining for law firms during the economic crisis.
Firms with relatively strong balance sheets are hiring lawyers from competitors that are hurting from the dropoff in mergers, debt offerings and other staples of the legal business. Leaders of these firms figure that being bigger and more geographically diverse will help them weather downturns in particular market sectors and capitalize on complex business opportunities that require a variety of specialties. In most cases, they’re even giving the new hires raises.
Some firms are buying on the cheap, while others are giving new attention to more resilient practice groups:
K&L Gates LLP has acquired medium-size firms in Texas and North Carolina this year and hired 45 partners from other firms. “We have no debt — no long-term debt, no short-term debt — and therefore have a balance sheet that allows us to grow aggressively into a downturn,” says Peter Kalis, chairman of the 1,700-lawyer firm…
But many law firms believe that they have no choice but to expand specialties, such as restructuring, intellectual property, securities litigation and antitrust, that are generally believed to remain steady — or even pick up — during down cycles. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in New York laid off 131 lawyers — nearly 20% of its staff — earlier this year because of the implosion in the mortgage-backed securities market, a key practice area for the firm. But it has hired lawyers in other practice areas, including financial restructuring.
We’ve finally finished reading the full American Lawyer article (subscription) about the internal machinations at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. With great access to firm chair Chris White, Nate Raymond weaves together a brilliant tale of greed, homogenization, and the differences between running a law firm and running a business.
We encourage you to read the full article. For those busy trying to hang onto their jobs, we’ll give you a few excerpts.
One thing is very clear: the partners over there are totally screwed too, at least as much as you can be “screwed” while making millions of dollars a year:
At Cadwalader, the push for profits is relentless. The average Cadwalader partner brings in around $5 million in revenue, and has to worry all the time about maintaining those numbers. “We expect people to produce,” Link says, unapologetically. “Cadwalader is a meritocracy.” High performers are rewarded with shares and bonuses-at the expense of those farther down the food chain.
Talk about a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.
As we reported yesterday, there is just no way of knowing right now if the defection of Andrew Perel is an outlier or a precursor. Yet White talks about his departed partners in language usually reserved for junior associates:
White contends that many of the partners who leave are people who couldn’t keep up. “In some respects, peer pressure doesn’t go away [when you're a partner],” he says. “When you’re in an environment where everyone is performing at a very high level, and you’re accustomed to performing at that level, it becomes difficult when you’re not performing at that level.”
More about the new (!) Cadwalader business plan, after the jump.
[W]hile it might take several months to determine the full damage, so far the firm hasn’t seen large groups of partners bolt for the door, a phenomenon that can create a mini-panic at a firm and result in the loss of entire practice groups. Of course, the handsome partnership payouts provide good incentive to Cadwalader partners to stay put. And while Cadwalader might never be called a “collegial” place, its partnership is at least cohesive. It consists of a manageable 114 lawyers located predominantly in lower Manhattan.
Make that 113 lawyers. From a press release issued today by Steptoe & Johnson:
Steptoe & Johnson LLP, a pre-eminent international law firm, today announced the addition of Andrew J. Perel as a new partner in its New York office.
Mr. Perel, former Chair of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s Environmental Practice Group, will also become the resident member of the management committee of Steptoe’s New York City office and that office’s representative on the firm’s Executive Committee.
“Andrew is the ‘go to’ environmental lawyer in New York. He is a leader in his field and highly respected nationally. Through his practice, he provides Steptoe with additional entrée into the financial services clients that are the backbone of every New York law firm practice,” said Steve Fennell, head of Steptoe’s Litigation Department.
Jingoistic competition is fun, but why should handing out medals be the sole province of the IOC? Athletes and David Rivkin should not be the only ones getting a taste of Olympic glory.
Here at ATL, we’ve put law firms on the (imaginary) field of competition and are now ready to reveal the gold medal winners in a number of sports.
After the jump, see the winners, and weigh in on which firms would be champions in sports we did not pick for prime time.
Welcome to another post in the 2009 Vault 100 open thread series. You all seem to like having the law firms listed in groups of ten, so we’ll keep it up. Here are the thirty-something firms from the Vault 100, with prestige scores in parentheses:
Fried Frank and Cadwalader have been on the ATL radar of late. We broke news of staff layoffs at Fried Frank earlier this week, and news of the attorney bloodletting at Cadwalader last month. As noted in Cadwalader’s notable perks: “ouch, layoffs.” (Speaking of, in going through the Vault 100 list, we’ve discovered that Vault’s definition of “perk” is very different from ours.)
In the comments, the curious can pose questions, and the insiders can share insights. More threads to come. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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