Thacher Proffitt rules out further redundancies

The managing partner of Thacher Proffitt & Wood yesterday (Wednesday 11 June) vowed his firm would make no further layoffs as a result of the credit crisis.

Last December, Thacher Proffitt was among the first US firms to admit it was being forced to make cuts as a result of the downturn in its core area of structured finance. In that late 2007 round, 24 associates were laid off. In two subsequent rounds, Thacher Proffitt laid off around 30 more lawyers.

“We’re done,” Paul Tvetenstrand said. “We have definitely seen more activity in the past two-to-three months, with [structured finance] transactions happening, while our litigation and corporate groups are extremely busy. It’s unfortunate that we had to let any of our lawyers go but we saw what we needed to do and did it.”

The redundancies this year took the total layoffs at Thacher Proffitt to between 50 and 60 associates, around 35 per cent of the structured finance group or some 25 per cent of the firm’s total.

Yesterday, managing partner Tvetenstrand confirmed that there would be no more. He said the firm had successfully transferred a number of its former structured finance lawyers into its litigation groups.

Tvetenstrand added that, like several firms in the US, Thacher Proffitt has recently diversified its practice groups. In particular, the firm has been building up in bankruptcy in anticipation of an expected wave of insolvencies.

In March this year, Thacher Proffitt hired Allen & Overy partner Hugh McDonald in New York and formed a new distressed assets group co-headed by McDonald and Christopher Lewis.

This month it is promoting New York counsel Lee Smith to partner in its bankruptcy group (also co-headed by McDonald along with partner Jonathan Forstot), taking the total partners to three.

Tvetenstrand admitted that his firm had seen as many as 10 partners leave the firm in recent months, which he characterised as, “more than usual”. However, Tvetenstrand claimed none of the exits were related to the economic downturn.

Recent partner exits include that of Chris Graham, the former chair of the firm’s bankruptcy and creditor’s rights practice, who joined McKenna Long & Aldridge in April this year, banking partner Gerard Comizio who left for Paul Hastings, and funds specialists Steven Howard and Thomas Majewski, who joined Bingham McCutchen.

As reported by The Lawyer, securitisation partner Robert Villani joined Clifford Chance last month (The Lawyer, 19th May)