Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP (Europe)

  • Overview

The Scoop

Established more than two centuries ago, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is one of the oldest law firms in the United States and the oldest Wall Street firm still in existence. Known especially for its capital markets, bankruptcy and real estate expertise, the firm is a well-established presence in the New York legal market and has expanded around the globe in recent years.

First on the Street

Cadwalader was founded in New York in 1792, just a few years after the United States ratified its first national constitution. In the late 19th century, the firm introduced such new-fangled technology as typewriters and telephones to its offices. Cadwalader was similarly revolutionary in its approach to training and staffing: to replace the old system of unpaid law clerkships, the firm established the role of the associate.

The present-day Cadwalader forged a niche early on by working on commercial claims, litigation, maritime law and real estate for banks, insurance companies and members of New York society. The real catalyst for the growth and increased financial stability the firm experienced throughout the 20th century, however, came only when former US Assistant Secretary of State John Cadwalader joined the firm in 1878, bringing big-time corporate connections with him. The 1889 addition of named partner Henry Taft-whose older brother would later succeed Teddy Roosevelt in the White House-brought more political clout and cemented the firm's status as a fixture in American law. In 1942, the firm elevated lawyer Catherine Noyes Lee to partner, making Lee the first woman partner of a major Wall Street firm.

Ever-evolving financial nous

Today, Cadwalader operates eight offices in the United States, Europe and China, with an eye that's generally focused on corporate and financial work, including some of the most interesting and complex cases and deals for some of the most prominent businesses. Cadwalader's London office was established in 1997 and is best known for its capital markets, structured products and restructuring work. The office includes lawyers qualified in England and Wales, Ireland, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and multiple US jurisdictions.

Cadwalader's reputation has earned it a stable of prestigious clients, including leading financial services institutions, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS AG; global insurance companies such as AIG, CIGNA, Munich Re, Prudential and Swiss Re; and major corporations, including Anheuser Busch InBev, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Motorola.

During the recent economic crisis, as real estate and structured finance work began to slow, Cadwalader responded with redundancies and a shift in leadership, and the London office lost a number of partners and associates. But the firm-traditionally a finance powerhouse-has also increasingly relied on other areas of strength in tough times, including its antitrust, IP, securities and white-collar litigation practices, as well as its energy, restructuring and regulatory groups. For example, Cadwalader advised the US Treasury Department on restructuring options for American automakers General Motors and Chrysler, and counselled LyondellBasell when the Dutch petrochemical giant filed for bankruptcy in New York with $19 billion in liabilities.

Recent News

Starting the year with renewed energy

Cadwalader kicked off the new year in 2011 with the launch of a new global energy and commodities practice and an office in Houston, Texas, thanks to the hiring of a nine-partner energy team from McDermott Will & Emery, including the head of McDermott's energy and commodities advisory practice and the global co-leader of the firm's M&A group. The team also includes Doron Ezickson, McDermott's former London managing partner and head of the firm's international energy and commodities team. Ezickson joined Cadwalader's London office, while the other members of the team work in New York, Washington DC and Houston.

Going big in Brussels

In another high-profile expansionist move, Cadwalader brought in Linklaters EU and competition law specialist Alec Burnside to launch an office in Brussels in May 2011. Burnside's record includes advising Microsoft on its acquisition of Yahoo!'s search function, successfully defending Aer Lingus against hostile takeover bids by Ryanair and advising Deutsche Börse on its pending merger with NYSE Euronext. A few months later, the Brussels team acquired another antitrust star when Anne MacGregor joined as special counsel from Baker & McKenzie.

Once you pop, the fun don't stop

Consumer product giant Procter & Gamble sought Cadwalader's tax counsel in its sale of potato-crisp brand Pringles to packaged food company Diamond Foods Inc, maker of such popular snacks as Kettle Brand Chips. The $2.35 billion price tag includes $1.5 billion in Diamond stock and the assumption of $850 million in debt. The addition of the iconic Pringles canister to Diamond's collection of brands will reportedly triple the size of Diamond's global business and more than double its sales in the UK and the US. The transaction, which was announced in April 2011, is expected to close by the end of the year.

Pleased as Punch

In 2011, Cadwalader was retained by MBIA to advise on an impending restructuring of Punch Taverns Finance B Limited, a whole business securitisation vehicle owned by Punch Taverns Finance Plc. The Punch restructuring will be one of the first whole business securitisation deals restructured in the UK.

It's kind of a big deal

For its role as debtor's counsel for the global reorganisation of petrochemical giant LyondellBasell Industries, Cadwalader was the recipient of numerous awards, including "Restructuring Deal of the Year" at the International Financial Law Review European awards ceremony in London in March 2011; "Deal of the Year" by Investment Dealers' Digest; and the "Industrial Goods and Basic Resource Deal of the Year" by The M&A Advisor in Palm Beach, Florida. The awards recognise the firm's work on the matter, including securing an $8 billion DIP facility (the greatest in Chapter 11 history at the time) and settling the largest fraudulent conveyance action against secured lenders.

A royal transaction

In February 2011, Cadwalader was honoured for its work on the origination and securitisation of RBS Commercial Funding 2010-MB1, a transaction for client Royal Bank of Scotland. Thomson Financial's International Financing Review recognised the transaction as "Americas Securitisation of the Year".

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Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP (Europe)

Dashwood House
69 Old Broad Street
London EC2M 1QS
Phone: +44 (0)20 7170 8700


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman: W. Christopher White
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 450

Major Office Locations

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Beijing, China
  • Washington, DC
  • New York, NY
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Houston, TX
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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