Vinson & Elkins boosts bankruptcy practice

Vinson & Elkins’ New York office has taken on five-lawyer boutique Cronin & Vris in the latest bankruptcy hire by a major US law firm.

Cronin & Vris was founded by two former partners of Manhattan stalwart Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, both of whom will be joining Vinson: Dennis Cronin will become Vinson’s co-head of insolvency and he will be joined by name partner Jane Vris. Cronin was also Wachtell’s managing partner for six years during the 1980s.

They are bringing with them another Wachtell alumnus, Laurence Cherkis, who will become of counsel at Vinson, and Ronald Trost, formerly Sidley Austin‘s head of insolvency, who is also becoming a Vinson of counsel.

Vinson’s reputation has been tainted in recent times by its association with Enron, to which it was primary counsel. But in this instance Enron served as a positive factor in bringing Cronin & Vris into the Vinson fold – Vinson used Cronin as counsel in Enron’s bankruptcy.

The bolt-on is the latest move by firms to bolster their insolvency and restructuring practices in the wake of the US subprime mortgage crisis and related downturn.

Cravath Swaine & Moore, for example, launched a restructuring practice for the first time in May with the hire of a Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner.