Bear Stearns lawyers attract ‘feeding frenzy’

Headhunters are circling the in-house legal and compliance group at Bear Stearns in the wake of the bank’s collapse on Monday (17 March).

Although it is still too early to predict accurately, the expectation is a significant number of the bank’s 100-plus lawyers from its 475-strong legal and compliance group will be laid off following Bear Stearns’ sale to JP Morgan Chase this week.

Recruitment consultants in New York are already circling the bank, with one characterising the scene as, “a feeding frenzy”.

“There is a lot of dust in the air,” said the recruiter, who asked not to be named.

The recruiter’s sentiments were echoed by a senior law firm partner in New York, who said the assumption in the market was there will be “very significant” redundancies.

“It’s not clear that JP Morgan will need that many lawyers,” added the partner. “The trouble is, law firms are not in a big hiring mode and the banks are all under tremendous costs pressure. It’s going to be tough.”

Bear Stearns has one of the largest in-house legal and compliance groups among US investment banks, with approximately 475 individuals of which more than 100 are lawyers.

The largest group of lawyers are in Bear Stearns’ fixed income department, with additional legal support in areas including litigation, vendor contracts and employment.
Bear Stearns’ general counsel is former Arnold & Porter partner, Michael Solender, who joined the bank in February 2002.

Other well-known names among Solender’s team of senior legal managing directors include Ken Kopelman, Peter Cook and Barbara Bishop.

Earlier this month, Weil Gotshal & Manges recruited Bear Stearns’s chief operating officer for legal and compliance, David Strumeyer, as its new global executive director (, 5 March).

Bear Stearns did not comment.