Debevoise announced Monday its hire of Robins, who has a regulatory practice representing broker-dealers, financial institutions and other organizations structuring derivative transactions. At his new firm, Robins will continue representing broker-dealers, swap dealers, big banks, securities exchanges, industry associations and buy-side institutions.
“It was a difficult choice,” said Robins about joining Debevoise. ”I have tremendous respect for Cadwalader and great friends there, but this is the right opportunity at the right time.”
Debevoise’s addition of Robins comes roughly six months after the firm saw the former deputy chair of its corporate practice and the head of its investment management and funds group decamp for Kirkland & Ellis in New York.
Robins said his new firm has broad practice groups and a client roster that will help create additional opportunities for his existing clients and himself. He specifically cited Debevoise’s insurance, private equity and litigation practices as helping broaden his reach and the types of legal services he can offer clients. Debevoise provides “additional touch points” for his financial institutions clients, said Robins, who spent nearly 12 years at Cadwalader, a firm he joined in late 2006 after working as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell.
The recent changes in the regulatory environment for financial institutions, due in large part to vastly opposing outlooks by the Obama and Trump administrations, has increased the urgency of his clients’ needs.
“It is a rapidly changing regulatory environment and it is more important than ever before to be part of a multidisciplinary practice that can provide multidisciplinary solutions,” said Robins, who expects to collaborate with Debevoise partners from other practices.
Responding to regulatory change, however, was not the primary reason for Robins’ decision to switch firms, something that he instead attributed to the “high quality of lawyers” at Debevoise.
“His in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry, particularly the regulatory environment facing broker-dealers, will prove invaluable as we guide our clients through a complex regulatory landscape and a changing marketplace,” said a statement announcing Robins’ hire from Debevoise’s presiding partner Michael Blair, who nearly seven years ago assumed leadership of the 631-lawyer firm.
Debevoise saw gross revenue and average equity partner profits hit record highs in 2017 at $822 million and $2.83 million, respectively, according to data collected by ALM Intelligence. Cadwalader, however, saw its gross revenue dip to $408.1 million as head count fell to 373 lawyers in 2017, although the fellow Am Law 100 firm also watched its average equity partner profits soar to $2.5 million.
Earlier this year, Cadwalader lost a four-partner restructuring team in London, but the firm recently picked up Stephen Fraidin, a former senior partner at Kirkland who most recently served as vice chairman at hedge fund giant Pershing Square Capital Management. The American Lawyer also reported Monday on Cadwalader’s reboot of the Cadwalader Cabinet, a financial regulatory and intelligence platform owned by the firm.
As for Debevoise, the firm saw Sarah Fitts, a former co-chair of its energy and natural resources group, leave in March to join Schiff Hardin. Eric Dinallo, a financial institutions partner who joined Debevoise in late 2010, also left the firm’s New York office late last year to become general counsel at Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America.