McCarter & English has expanded its executive compensation practice in New York by hiring special counsel Joseph Bachelder III and Jerome Cohen from the Bachelder Law Firm, a shop known for its expertise in structuring pay deals for high-profile CEOs.
The move spells the end of the firm that Bachelder, who will mark his 80th birthday next month, founded in 1982 and served as senior partner for 30 years. Over time, the Madison Avenue–based shop became synonymous with the rise of executive compensation packages to almost unprecedented levels.
Along the way, Bachelder helped craft pay deals for such senior-level executives as AlliedSignal’s Lawrence Bossidy, Eastman Kodak’s George Fisher, IBM’s Louis Gerstner Jr., and Lucent Technologies’s Patricia Russo, according to a 2003 profile in The Wall Street Journal. Bachelder also negotiated a $30 million severance package for current JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon after he was abruptly fired from Citigroup in 1998, according to The New York Times.
Now, Bachelder is on the move himself.
“Joe and I have known each other professionally for 25 years, and we’ve worked on the same side of the table and the opposite side of the table,” says McCarter’s New York office managing partner Daniel Pollack, another noted corporate governance and executive compensation expert who merged his own firm with McCarter in 2009. Pollack says that being able to draw on that experience helped him persuade Bachelder to make the leap.
Bachelder, who lives in Princeton, New Jersey, says that in addition to Pollack, he has known “old friends and family friends” that have worked at Newark-based McCarter for more than 50 years, including former firm chairman Eugene Haring, who died in 2009. Bachelder says he negotiated with McCarter for about six months before deciding to come aboard, noting that the looming December 31 expiration of his firm’s current office lease helped spur his decision. Bachelder did not rely on a legal recruiter for the move to McCarter.
With Bachelder and Cohen, who was of counsel at the Bachelder Law Firm, joining McCarter, other lawyers from the firm will pursue their own endeavors.
Bachelder’s younger brother Stephan, who was of counsel at the firm, is also a name partner at Portland, Maine–based Bachelder & Dowling. Other of counsel who have been affiliated with Bachelder include White Plains–based solo practitioner Colleen Westbrook; New York solo B. Roslyn Abramov; and Michael Katzke, a former Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner who left that firm to pursue a career in social work before returning to the law and joining Bachelder in 2009, according to our previous reports. (Katzke also now has his own solo practice.)
With the additions of Bachelder and Cohen, McCarter’s New York office now has 42 attorneys, according to a press release issued by the firm announcing the hires. McCarter saw its gross revenues slip a little more than 2 percent, to $211.5 million in 2011, and its profits per partner fall 11.3 percent, to $590,000, according to our annual Am Law 200 financial data.
Bachelder, who began his legal career at now-defunct New York firm Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander and occasionally writes about executive compensation for sibling publication the New York Law Journal, says that has been busy representing CEOs and other top corporate managers. “I even have a meeting later this afternoon with someone from the Far East,” he says, noting that the current regulatory environment poses both challenges and opportunities in the executive compensation field.
“The challenges of meeting world competition here in the [U.S.] is leading to a reexamination as to our methods of compensation, such as its connection with equity,” Bachelder explains. “We have long been committed to fairly short-term equity results, but we’re going to have to go longer-term by designing agreements that tie compensation to drivers of long-term value creation rather than short-term market performance.”