Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal made a bet a year ago that few other firms were willing to make: That hiring 100 lawyers from the structured finance-heavy Thacher Proffitt & Wood would make good business sense.

It was a risky bet, especially in the months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy. The Thacher deal was completed in only 10 days, with what lawyers involved say was not the typical level of due diligence they would usually demand.

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