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January 20, 2011 4:07 PM

Cadwalader Brings In Nine-Partner Energy Team, Plans Houston Office

Posted by Brian Baxter

CLARIFICATION: 1/21/11, 2:30 p.mKaren Dewis was at one time a member of McDermott Will & Emery's executive and management committees, although not at the time of her departure from the firm.

The head of McDermott Will & Emery's energy and commodities advisory practice and the global cohead of the firm's M&A group are joining Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, along with seven colleagues from the firm's Washington, D.C., Houston, New York, and London offices, Cadwalader announced on Thursday. The Washington Post first reported on the moves late Wednesday.

Cadwalader chairman W. Christopher White said in a statement that the firm was eager to add to its energy and commodities practice. "As these industries face increased scrutiny from multiple regulators, our new colleagues will provide our clients the required sophisticated sector-specific expertise to meet these challenges," he said.

Paul Pantano, Jr., a member of McDermott's management committee and the head of the firm's energy and commodities advisory practice, will lead Cadwalader's energy regulatory team based in Washington. Pantano also coheaded McDermott's client services program. Karen Dewis, the head of McDermott's D.C.-based corporate practice and cohead of the firm's global M&A group, will also join Cadwalader. Dewis was at one time a member of the executive and management committees at McDermott.

The other seven lawyers leaving McDermott for Cadwalader are: energy and commodities advisory practice and enforcement defense team head Gregory Mocek, energy trading and structured transactions coheads Daryl Rice and Robert Stephens, regulatory practice head Kenneth Irvin, international energy and commodities practice head Doron Ezickson, and energy and commodities partner Anthony Mansfield, and renewables practice cohead Gregory Lawrence.

Lawrence will move from Boston to Cadwalader's New York office. Stephens, who is based in Houston, will lead Cadwalader's new office there. Ezickson will remain based in London, where he used to head McDermott's office in the city from 2008 to 2009, according to U.K. publication Legal Week.

Cadwalader's London managing partner Angus Duncan told Legal Week that his firm was "delighted" to bring Ezickson aboard, noting that the McDermott lawyer would establish Cadwalader's U.K. energy and commodities practice. "This new practice area for us plays to and enhances our strengths in London," Duncan said.

The new Houston office that Stephens will lead supplements Cadwalader's current operations in New York, Washington, Charlotte, London, and Beijing. It's the second national firm to make a Texas play this week, following Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's acquisition of five lawyers in Dallas, the bulk of whom came from Vinson & Elkins.

McDermott elected two new cochairmen in April 2009, Jeffrey Stone and Peter Sacripanti. Neither immediately responded to requests for comment on the moves to Cadwalader. A firm spokesman told The Am Law Daily in a statement that while McDermott was sorry to see its partners leave, any damage from the departures would be minimal.

"To put things in perspective, the departing partners' total collections in 2010 amounted to a small percentage of firm revenue," the firm said in a statement. "Whereas these departing partners focused mainly on commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients, McDermott's global energy capabilities are far broader than that."

The departure of the D.C. partners comes only a few months after McDermott signed a letter of intent to move into a new building located near Capitol Hill that will bear its name. The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reported that the lease calls for the firm to take 165,000 square feet of space in November 2012. (The NLJ reported on Thursday that McDermott was in the process of closing its San Diego office, a development a firm spokesman said was "totally unrelated" to the Cadwalader laterals.)

McDermott maintains that despite the losses of two management committee members and several high-ranking energy partners, its outlook remains robust.

"[The firm] continues to represent some of the biggest names in the energy industry across a broad range of corporate, transactional, regulatory, enforcement, litigation, tax, and other matters," the firm's statement continued. "The expansion of our international platform has supported numerous cross-border transactions and litigation matters, while providing the experience necessary to offer our energy clients high-quality legal services around the globe."

According to the latest Am Law 100 financial data, McDermott had gross revenues of $829 million in 2009 and average profits per equity partner of $1.3 million. Cadwalader's gross revenues were $456.5 million in 2009, while average profits per equity partner were $2.4 million.

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Karen Dewis has not been a member of the management committee or the executive committee of McDermott for quite some time. She does not hold these positions as she leaves the firm, which is a false impression left by this article.

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