Patrick Quinn, managing partner, has spent his entire career at Cadwalader. (Steven Laxton)
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s energy and commodities group is breaking up, with lawyers leaving for Allen & Overy and Haynes and Boone, part of a process that will see the Wall Street firm close a Houston office that it opened six years ago.
In a statement provided to The American Lawyer, Cadwalader’s managing partner Patrick Quinn said the firm’s decision to shutter its Houston outpost was a reflection of its new emphasis on a core client base that includes big banks and financial institutions, large companies and hedge funds.
“This focused strategic approach has, not surprisingly, resulted in some of our partners moving on,” Quinn said. “We are sad to see our friends depart and wish them well. However, in order to provide exceptional service to our natural client base and a profitable platform for our partners, we must continue to pursue our strategy.”
Quinn, who took over as Cadwalader’s leader two years ago this month, noted that his firm recently elected 10 lawyers to partner, its largest new partner class since 1993. In the fall, Cadwalader brought back former partner Jason Halper from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to co-head its litigation group and forged an alliance with French restructuring boutique Bremond & Associés.
Cadwalader’s reorganization saw the firm announce in late September the closure of its Asian offices in Beijing and Hong Kong. In recent weeks, firms like Jones Day, King & Wood Mallesons, Latham & Watkins and Stephenson Harwood have moved to pick up Cadwalader refugees from those offices, as noted by sibling publication The Asian Lawyer. The American Lawyer reported last summer that Cadwalader had held merger talks with King & Spalding and a small New York litigation firm.
The next batch of reorganization-related departures from Cadwalader includes partners Anthony Mansfield and Gregory Mocek in Washington, D.C., both of whom are poised to join Allen & Overy’s U.S. investigations and litigation practice. The two were once part of a high-profile energy group that joined Cadwalader in 2011 from McDermott Will & Emery. Mocek, a former director of enforcement at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, headed McDermott’s energy and commodities advisory practice and enforcement defense team. Mansfield once served as chief trial attorney and counsel to Mocek at the CFTC and was a member of the energy and commodities groups at McDermott and Cadwalader.
“With extensive global reach and deep connections to the relevant industries, Allen & Overy is well-positioned for global commodities investigations and enforcement actions,” said a statement by partner John Terzaken, who joined the firm in 2012 and heads Allen & Overy’s investigations and litigation group in Washington, D.C. “Adding partners like Greg and Tony, both with deep CFTC experience, to our team will provide our clients the support they need to manage the growth of multibillion-dollar, multijurisdictional enforcement actions.”
Neither Mocek nor Mansfield (pictured right) were available to discuss their decision to leave Cadwalader for Allen & Overy, a London-based legal giant keen on growing its operations in the U.S. Last summer the Magic Circle firm added five leveraged finance partners in New York by recruiting laterals from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, Proskauer Rose and White & Case. (Milbank returned the favor in November by hiring three Allen & Overy partners in New York, including the firm’s former U.S. leader.)
The American Lawyer reported last week on the departure of Cadwalader partners Paul Pantano Jr. and Athena Eastwood for Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Washington, D.C. Both lawyers were part of the energy team that Cadwalader hired from McDermott six years ago, as was partner Doron Ezickson. The latter was initially based in London, where he used to head McDermott’s office in the city and led the firm’s international energy and commodities practice. At Cadwalader, Ezickson established the firm’s U.K. energy and commodities practice before returning to the U.S. to serve as senior counsel in its energy and commodities group in Washington, D.C.
Last week the Anti-Defamation League announced that it had hired Ezickson as a regional director in the nation’s capital. Ezickson, a former chief of staff to former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who recently returned to Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo after an unsuccessful run for president, did not return a request for comment left for him at the ADL. The New York-based nonprofit seeks to fight anti-Semitism and secure justice for Jewish people around the world.
Ezickson will replace longtime ADL regional director David Friedman, who last year was promoted by the organization to serve as vice president of law enforcement, extremism and community security. (Friedman should not be confused with Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman name partner David Friedman, an outspoken critic of the ADL and a New York bankruptcy lawyer tapped by President-elect Donald Trump last month to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.)
Cadwalader’s energy group was hit hard in February 2015 when Sidley Austin snagged four partners in Houston and Washington, D.C., all of whom joined the firm as part of the move from McDermott in 2011. Michael Niebruegge, a former Cadwalader energy finance partner in Houston, also resurfaced that same month at Willkie Farr. In an effort to offset those losses, in March 2015 Cadwalader hired Sutherland Asbill & Brennan energy transactional partner Chad Mills in Houston.
Mills was joined later that year by Tania Perez, an energy transactional partner hired by Cadwalader from Norton Rose Fulbright who splits her time between Houston and New York. Perez will remain at Cadwalader in New York, while Mills confirmed Monday his intention to join Haynes and Boone with special counsel Adam Roth and associate Kathryn Shurin, both of whom are based in Houston.
“Chad’s practice will fit in well with our existing commodities trading and finance partners in Houston, Washington and New York,” said a statement by Haynes and Boone partner Bernard “Buddy” Clark Jr., leader of the firm’s energy practice. “Adding Chad, who has represented many leading financial institutions and energy companies, will make us that much stronger. This is a natural fit for our group.”
Haynes and Boone has been tracking the economic turmoil in the North American energy sector during the past two years, a period that has seen more than 100 oilfield service companies file for bankruptcy in the U.S. and Canada. Nonetheless, despite the industry’s tough times, there is optimism about prospects for the sector under a Trump administration, which has vowed to ease regulations and invest in infrastructure.
As for Cadwalader, the end of the firm’s Houston operations leaves it with offices in Brussels; Charlotte, North Carolina; London; New York and Washington, D.C. The firm has said it remains committed to serving clients from its two European outposts, although its Brussels base has just one remaining partner after the departure of a four-lawyer antitrust team last week for Dechert.
An initial version of this story misstated in the 12th paragraph the number of lawyers that left Cadwalader’s Houston office in early 2015. Copyright The American Lawyer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.