The knives have been out for a while at Cadwalader. But this week, it’s going to be former chairman Bob Link that gets cut (see story).
In reality, Link’s days have been numbered since February, when the twin roles of chairman and managing partner he held were split, with global finance head Chris White taking over as chairman and de facto firm leader (TheLawyer.com, 27 February).
Link’s continuing position as managing partner was little more than a sop to the man who had led his firm to its position as New York’s third most profitable.
“It was totally a beard,” says a lawyer familiar with the firm. “The role was created for him to save face. Over the past six months he’s totally failed to find a role or a place in the firm.”
But Link’s removal from power is far from the end of the story. Cadwalader has been reeling for months. Collapsed core markets, major lawyer layoffs and now a palace revolt, 2008 will go down as arguably the worst in Cadwalader’s 216-year history.
Inevitably, questions have been raised about the long-term future of the firm. How things play out later this week may offer some clues as to its shape, whatever that may be.
Certainly there are parts of the practice, including bankruptcy, litigation and IP that are in rude health. But strong activity levels in these groups won’t be anything like enough to offset a precipitous fall in revenue and, crucially, profit.
The probability is that White will assume total control of Cadwalader while the game-playing that is widely believed to have been going on over the past few weeks involving high-ranking partners such as Dennis Block and Greg Markel will result in a re-shaped board and revamped strategy.
This year has been abysmal. Next year will be critical.
Read editor Cat Griffiths on Cadwalader here.