Block and the Bear

This morning there were still a few green-draped revellers stumbling home after yesterday’s annual St Patrick’s day jamboree.

Those working in the offices in midtown will not mourn the ending of the virtual siege they faced on Monday (17 March), as the crowds jostled to see the annual parade.

“To be honest, St Patrick’s Day gives me a bit of a headache,” moaned one legal recruiter. “I’m sitting in my office and the parade is right outside. It’s impossible to leave the office. I tend to just stay in my office and wait for it to pass. I’m not one for green food either.”

But the food or even the thousands of T-shirts aren’t as green as the faces of the traders at Bear Stearns. New York has now moved on from the shock (and hilarity) of Eliot Spitzer’s fall. Now it is rocking from the collapse of the country’s fifth-largest investment bank.

That green colour, it’s sea sickness, not St Patrick’s day cheer.

The full scope of the shake-out for the law firms that advise Bear Stearns will take some time, but that perennial news anchor Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft once again finds itself in the eye of the storm.

Cadwalader icon Dennis Block brought Bear Stearns to the firm when he joined it from Weil Gotshal in 1998. He’d first begun working for the bank in 1987, when he was brought in to (successfully) sort out a spat with Jardine Matheson. The Asian firm tried to back out of a deal to buy 20 per cent of Bear Stearns, citing material adverse change, when the market crashed.

Bear hired Block, then at Weil, to sue Jardine. As one insider at the time recalls, “Dennis’s tactics and conduct of the whole thing was the starting point for his relationship with Bear Stearns.”

The rest is history, just like Bear Stearns.

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