Law Practice Management
Cadawalader Chair Has No Regrets About Riding Securitization Bubble
Posted Aug 6, 2008 6:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft may face recruiting problems after the combined layoffs of 131 lawyers, but chairman W. Christopher White has no regrets about beefing up the law firm's real-estate securitization practice during years of high demand.
In the most recent round of dismissals last month, Cadwalader laid of 96 lawyers, 90 of them in areas of real estate and securitization. White told the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) that the firm was reacting to business conditions related to the real-estate frenzy.
"There was a bubble, we rode that bubble, it contracted and we adjusted," White said. "Even knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have changed a thing."
The law firm re-examined its practice areas in the 1990s under the firm’s managing partner, Robert Link, cutting less-profitable practices. Along the way, the Wall Street Journal story says, the firm “developed a reputation as a sharp-elbowed, money-hungry place.”
White doesn’t agree with that characterization, but said the firm’s culture has changed to become more transparent. "We became the kind of place that doesn't try to hide its layoffs, doesn't tell associates they're for performance-related reasons when they're not," he told the newspaper.
Yet White acknowledges the firm did take a hit to its reputation with the layoffs. "There's no doubt that this is going to have an impact on our recruiting," he told the newspaper. "It's just hard to gauge exactly what it's going to be."