Cadwalader office move sees firm downsize in City

After scouring London for the perfect home, ­Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has found a new UK base.

The US firm is downsizing dramatically. The 14th and 15th floors of Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, gives the US firm 18,000sq ft compared with 35,000sq ft at 265 Strand.

After vowing to rebuild London following a string of defections and layoffs this year and last, it seems ­Cadwalader has accepted the inevitable. On the face of it the firm’s halcyon days are well and truly over.

At the height of the boom the firm had a total of 50 lawyers, including 13 partners based permanently in London, many focused on its former core area of structured finance. Post the crisis and Cadwalader has just four partners and roughly a dozen associates on the ground in the capital.

Smaller office space ­clearly makes sense. But it does seem at odds with management’s insistence that London is still an important part of the ­network.
“It really depends on your perspective,” says one London recruitment consultant. “Depending on the cost per square footage it would seem the move is cost-­efficient. It does of course mean they’re limited in how much they can grow.”

True, Cadwalader has been in the market for ­lateral hires. While the firm has been coy about the exact details of its strategy in the UK, it is widely known that London head Bob Link has been actively seeking finance and corporate ­partners.

But there is no doubt about it – Cadwalader is a hard sell. Its woes throughout recent months means it may struggle to pull in the high-profile partners it ­really needs in London.

And however efficient it may be, downsizing its office space could be sending out the wrong message to prospective lateral hires.

“They’re going to struggle to make the hires they need in London,” argues one ­former partner. “It’s not clear what London’s going to focus on and I think potential laterals will be confused about the ­strategy.”
Cadwalader was not available for comment.