Marshall Stoddard, 57, who served as co-chair of Mayer Brown's global finance practice and was the relationship partner to Bank of America, will become the U.S. head of bank and institutional finance at Dewey, resident in the New York and Los Angeles offices. Stoddard, who is leaving Mayer Brown following a high-profile management shake-up, says he was attracted by Dewey's more stable leadership team.
"When I made this decision it was during the time Mayer Brown was transitioning its leadership structure and leadership team," he says. "They've been on the ground only a short time, so I really can't evaluate how successful it will be. I think it's going to work better for them. But Dewey's leadership team is established and has a long history of successful performance, so the result is certainly more predictable."
The departure follows a seemingly endless stream of changes at Stoddard's former firm. Mayer Brown in April approved a new 12-member partnership board and six-member management committee after James Holzhauer announced . Herbert Krueger replaced him last month. Meanwhile, Mayer Brown Vice Chairman Paul Maher, who was not elected to the new management committees, .
Mayer Brown, in a statement, said it "appreciates the contributions to the firm's success that Marshall Stoddard made during his time here, and we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Stoddard represents banks and financial institutions in leveraged finance deals. He says his practice has been particularly busy thanks to the downturn, as companies seek loans in the tight credit environment. He represented JPMorgan Chase in May in extending $650 million in asset-based credit facilities to Jones Apparel Group Inc. He also represented Wells Fargo Foothill, part of Wells Fargo & Co., in closing a $305 million line of credit in April to Kia Motors America.
Unlike many lawyers these days, Stoddard says the recession seems to be helping his book of business. "I'm happy to say last year was my best year, and the first six months almost equaled that," Stoddard says.
All said, Stoddard figures he was responsible for north of $10 million in business at Mayer Brown last year. He was personally responsible for generating $6 million in business, and under him, the Bank of America relationship grew by $5 million last year. He also says he was partially responsible for generating $3 million to $5 million in business in London that was managed by someone else.
Mayer Brown grossed $1.3 billion in 2008, up 9 percent. Profits per partner fell 9 percent to $1.1 million. Dewey grossed $1.03 billion, up 2.1 percent. Profits per partner were flat at $1.57 million.
Stoddard joined Mayer Brown in Los Angeles in 2001, bringing a team of seven lawyers with him from Kelley Drye & Warren, where he chaired its financial institutions practice and was a member of its executive committee. In 2007, Stoddard relocated to Mayer Brown's New York office.
He began contemplating a move about six months ago, he says, and retained consultant Bobbie McMorrow at McMorrow Savarese Consulting to help him map out his options. At the top of the list, he says, was Dewey.
Stoddard says he was not influenced by the other Mayer Brown partner departures. More than 100 partners have left the firm in the last two years, though 45 left because of a de-equitization in March 2007.
"To be fair to Mayer Brown, sometimes partners leave because they see another opportunity," he says. "Sometimes they leave because they're encouraged to leave, but the market doesn't know that." (In his case, he's quick to add, it was the former.)
That said, he was looking for a more stable leadership platform. He found that at Dewey and in firm Chairman Steven Davis.
"I think Dewey & LeBoeuf is ahead of the pack when it comes to its leadership, and I've always been a believer that successful businesses are successful for a reason, and it's primarily its leadership," he says. "Naturally you need talent and other elements to be successful, but leadership is the key."
Stoddard says he expects more lawyers along with "most if not all of my business" will follow him from Mayer Brown. That said, while he enjoys a relationship with Bank of America, he expects Mayer Brown will keep hold of much of that business.
"Mayer Brown has a home field advantage because they have a Charlotte office, so a lot of what Mayer Brown does for BofA can't be competed with," he says.
Dewey & LeBoeuf closed its own Charlotte office in December.
Stoddard also hopes to refer work to Dewey's corporate and bankruptcy practices. He has been asked to help corporate practice co-chair Richard Shutran take the firm's banking assets and make them more successful. And because of the higher-risk nature of the loans he works on, he expects to be able to throw off work to bankruptcy lawyers under Martin Bienenstock.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.