Name: Jifree Cader
Firm: Sidley Austin
Role: Partner and co-head of the restructuring team
Trained at: Addleshaw Goddard
Year qualified: 2009
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
My most vivid memories (and those I have revisited most frequently) relate to the experience I gained working for the liquidators of Farepak. It was a tragic corporate failure at the time and I had the benefit of spending many hours reviewing in detail the moments that led to its collapse.
The line between a catastrophic corporate failure and securing a successful restructuring deal can get very thin at times. Knowing and understanding the lens through which the actions of a company and its directors will be scrutinised – particularly if a deal can’t be achieved – has repeatedly proved to have been invaluable experience.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
Sri Lankan elder: ‘Don’t focus on making money, focus on making friends.”
I was told this just after I graduated from university and – whilst I tried to practice it nonetheless – I didn’t fully comprehend its value until I made partner.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
Mark Knight, my fellow co-head of the Sidley restructuring practice has probably had the most positive influence over the longest period of time. We spent many hours in the trenches together as associates, and then partners, at K&E. We worked across the table from each other when I moved to Sidley and Mark moved to the client side. We then reunited to lead, share and transform the restructuring practice over the past 2.5 years at Sidley.
I would be remiss not to mention the influence of our former bosses and still co-heads of the restructuring practice at K&E, Kon and Partha. Our time working with them has undoubtedly helped us in growing our own practice at Sidley. We were fortunate to have many opportunities to work on and lead some of the most complicated and novel restructurings of the global financial crisis. We couldn’t have gained better restructuring experience over the same period at any other firm. We also paid close attention to the way they grew their practice to become the pre-eminent restructuring shop and, suffice to say, those lessons have come in handy! We remain on good terms and it is always a pleasure to see them on the other side.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Nothing beats hard work and dedication. That said, there are many less challenging legal practices to get into than restructuring so it helps a lot to maintain that hard work and dedication over a sustained period of time if you really enjoy it or better still, even love it a bit!
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
We just celebrated 15 years of marriage. Rohina has had an incredibly successful career in an investment bank and has just decided to take a well-deserved career break. We have both been juggling the challenge of home schooling and WFH with our best friends since law school: Sofia, 8 and Adam, 5.