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More than 65 attorneys from defunct Thacher Proffitt & Wood, many of whom specialize in structured finance and real estate, are still looking for jobs. The attorneys, including eight partners, represent more than one-third of the total who remained at the New York firm before it announced its dissolution on Dec. 22, 2008. Nearly 100 joined Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal immediately before the firm collapsed, brought down by the securitization market’s decline, numerous partner departures and a failed merger with Atlanta’s King & Spalding. While several former Thacher Proffitt partners landed at lucrative jobs in the months prior to its dissolution, eight partners remain unemployed, according to records from the New York State Unified Court System and LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell as well as interviews with former Thacher Proffitt partners. About 60 associates are still unaccounted for, and their severance packages are expected to expire this month. “It’s a terrible market right now for associates to make a move,” said one former Thacher Proffitt partner, who requested anonymously. “Probably a handful has found jobs, and the others are still out there.” ‘VERY PAINFUL’ On Dec. 21, 2008, Sonnenschein announced it would hire about 100 attorneys from Thacher Proffitt, including 40 partners, specializing in structured finance, corporate, real estate and litigation. More than 50 associates have since joined the firm. Several former Thacher Proffitt partners said severance packages that were given to associates at the time the firm dissolved are anticipated to expire around Feb. 20. Robert McCarthy, a partner at Sonnenschein and a member of Thacher Proffitt’s dissolution committee, said in an e-mail that “it is very painful for the former Thacher partners that some of our former partners, associates and staff are out of work in this very difficult environment. We have asked all of our former partners to work as hard as they can to assist our former partners and employees as they seek new opportunities.” In addition to the Sonnenschein hires, George Talarico, a former partner in the Summit, N.J., office of Thacher Proffitt, joined the Madison, N.J., office of Boston-based Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge last month. Although he received other offers to join firms by himself, he said that he insisted on bringing two of his associates, as well as a paralegal and administrative assistant. “I wanted to keep my team together,” he said. “They’re good people, and they know what they’re doing.” But he admitted that, as a litigator, his practice has not been as hard hit as structured finance and real estate. Another litigation partner, John Woods, who specializes in maritime law and insurance and reinsurance, joined Clyde & Co.‘s New York office last month, along with three associates. To be sure, some lawyers in real estate and corporate work have found jobs. One partner, Christopher Lewis, who specializes in derivatives and capital markets, became director and general counsel of Alaric Compliance Services LLC in New York last month. And corporate and securities attorney Charles “Chuck” Berman, who was of counsel to Thacher Proffitt’s Summit office, joined Greenberg Traurig‘s Florham Park, N.J., office, along with an associate, last month. Another corporate partner, Thomas Talley, retired on Dec. 31. ‘BUSINESS IS DEAD’ But one unemployed former structured finance partner at Thacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said big firms aren’t looking at partners who make less than $1 million in an annual book of business. And smaller firms require more than $500,000 of work. “It’s clearly evident to everybody that business is dead, and will be dead definitely in ’09,” the former partner said. “Big firms are hunkering down. Everyone is watching costs.” He said he is considering establishing his own law office but would be open to taking a prominent government job. The same situation is playing out for another unemployed former partner in real estate, who agreed that firms are requiring a portable book of business in those dollar ranges. The partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had not anticipated being “left in the cold.” “Any option is on the table right now,” he said. “I’m looking at government jobs, law firm jobs, in-house jobs. It’s not a time to be too picky.” He said the job market is tougher for junior partners, particularly at Thacher Proffitt, whose clients included financial services firms, such as Citibank and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which are suffering big losses in the current downturn.

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