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August 22, 2008 4:11 PM

Cadwalader to Lose Beijing Managing Partner

Posted by Nate Raymond

Roppelm_web_5 Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft is set to lose the managing partner of its Beijing office, the first partner departure since it fired 96 lawyers in July.

Mark Roppel
, the only partner currently based in Cadwalader's China outpost, is withdrawing from the firm today to join Allen & Overy's Shanghai office. A spokeswoman for Cadwalader says the departure is unrelated to the layoffs. Roppel broke the news of his departure to managing partner Robert Link, Jr., the same week Cadwalader announced its recent round of layoffs.

Roppel didn't respond to several requests for comment via phone and e-mail. A spokeswoman for Allen & Overy says the firm is "frequently the subject of speculation about our future plans, and it is our policy that we do not comment on rumors."

Roppel, a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, joined Cadwalader's New York corporate practice in 2005 from Shearman & Sterling's New York mergers and acquisitions department.

In 2006 Cadwalader transferred him to Beijing to head up the office, which opened the year prior. For the next two years, Roppel led the small Beijing outpost as the only partner-in-residence. The office was conceived as a window onto the Chinese legal system, according to chairman W. Christopher White, and the firm currently has plans to scout out restructuring and private equity lawyers for the branch.

The Cadwalader spokeswoman says Roppel indicated his departure was in part related to a desire to move to Shanghai, the largest city in China.

That's not the common route for lawyers in China, but not unheard-of either, says Hong Kong-based Major, Lindsey & Africa consultant Carl Hopkins. While Beijing is the business and political center of China, some lawyers try to relocate to Shanghai for personal reasons. "Sometimes it could be for environmental reasons," Hopkins says via e-mail. "Beijing is considered to be more polluted than Shanghai."

A spokeswoman for Cadwalader says the firm is currently discussing options for the Beijing outpost, which will not house any partners after Roppel departs. However, the firm has five associates in the office. Transferring another partner to China is one possibility.

The spokeswoman insists, though, that Cadwalader won't be closing the office. "The firm has confidence in the China office," she says.

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