From left, Todd Blanche, Kyle DeYoung and Ellen Holloman
From left, Todd Blanche, Kyle DeYoung and Ellen Holloman (Courtesy photos)

In its first litigation partner hires this year, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft announced Monday it had brought on a trio of lawyers, including an attorney from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

After years of attrition, including last year when several top litigation partners left, the hires signal efforts by the firm to rebuild the group with younger talent and to add litigators with government experience.

The new hires include Kyle DeYoung, who was most recently senior counsel to the director of enforcement at the SEC.

Cadwalader also hired Todd Blanche, a former Southern District of New York prosecutor who was most recently counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; and Ellen Holloman, who was partner at Olshan Frome Wolosky.

Blanche and Holloman are in New York, while DeYoung is in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

Before these new hires, the firm did not have a partner with experience working within the SEC, nor a New York partner who was previously a prosecutor at the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Jason Halper, litigation group chair.

Those are must-haves for any corporate litigation practice promoting their white-collar defense and securities practice.

“Not being able to offer that was a big challenge, so we’re excited now that we have those backgrounds,” Halper said.

“We view these three as having significant potential, both to develop their own profile and with the industry,” to develop their own client base, he said. “We didn’t think we needed to bring a chair of a group or something like that. What we are looking for was to round out our existing capability.”

The three partners will focus on government investigations, securities litigation, corporate governance and M&A litigation, and bankruptcy disputes.

Before he was at Wilmer, Blanche was co-chief of the violent crimes unit and the Southern District’s White Plains division, where he supervised investigations and prosecutions in public corruption, securities fraud, bank and wire frauds,

In his role at the SEC, DeYoung counseled enforcement directors on investigations, policy and legislative proposals, and other matters and also previously practiced at Wilmer.

Holloman, who was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell before she joined Olshan, focuses on securities, commercial and bankruptcy litigation and regulatory enforcement defense.

Since Halper rejoined Cadwalader in October 2016 from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Cadwalader’s other litigation co-chair, Kenneth Wainstein, left to become a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Halper said he has been working to reorganize the department “to try to eliminate silos and have the practice work in a more seamless fashion.” He said the 60-attorney litigation group has been more collaborative in the last year in business development, client pitches and client matters.

Halper said he is also traveling to firm offices and speaking regularly with partners to hear any concerns, in hopes that the efforts translate into less partner attrition.

With these new partners, Cadwalader has hired at least six partners firmwide in 2017, while seeing about 18 partner departures, according to ALM RivalEdge’s lateral moves database. Most of the exits have been on the corporate and banking side, and some partners naturally left the firm when it closed its offices in China.

“It’s been fairly stable this year in litigation,”Halper said. “As a firm we’re in growth mode.”

He said the litigation department continues to remain busy, even as some observers have noticed a drop in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement activity and lower penalties by Wall Street regulators.

Halper said the firm has not seen a drop in its new matters involving government investigations, and it anticipates a rise in demand in activist investor litigation.