In-house Counsel

'Feeding Frenzy' Over Expected Lawyer Layoffs at Bear Stearns

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Updated: Although it’s not yet confirmed, observers expect that a significant number of the 100 or so lawyers in the compliance department of Bear Stearns Cos. will be laid off once the investment bank’s buyout at a fire-sale price by JPMorgan Chase is completed.

So legal recruiters are hovering, hoping to score some of the big names at Bear for other opportunities, reports the Lawyer, in what it characterizes as a “feeding frenzy.”

While the job market is tough right now, as other banks and law firms also are affected by the same mortgage meltdown and worldwide credit crunch that is credited with causing Bear Stearns’ near-collapse, opportunities still abound for some attorneys. Big corporate deals have slowed down, but medium-size private equity deals and purchases of distressed assets have not, and the current market is encouraging banks and investors to eye new collateralized debt obligations, Reuters reports.

“There is still an awful lot of business around,” says partner Ken Baird, who heads the bankruptcy practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

However, public sympathy isn’t necessarily on the side of those losing their jobs, an unnamed partner tells the Lawyer in a subsequent article: “On the whole, Bear Stearns’ legal team was pretty highly regarded for its technical skills and abilities. But there’s not a lot of warm and fuzzy feeling for it out on the street.”

Updated at 3:30 p.m., central time, March 26, 2008, to include new coverage by the Lawyer.

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