Thacher Proffitt & Wood positions itself as the world's
biggest financial services boutique. The firm is also equallyand
rightfullyproud of its historic roots. Founded on Wall Street in
1848 by the father and son team of Benjamin and William Butler, the
firm had early associations with Presidents Lincoln and Van Buren.
These days, Thacher Proffitt handles complex financial transactions
and litigation for many of the world's top financial institutions.
In 2008, Thacher Proffitt is representing one of the nation's
largest appraisal management companies and its affiliates in
various regulatory and state attorney general investigations, as
well as tag-along civil lawsuits addressing the independence of the
appraisal process. Additional litigation matters include
representing several large financial institutions in loan
Thacher Proffitt's associates describe their firm as a good
place going through a bad patch. The firm is "overexposed to the
structured finance world," which has resulted in a fear of layoffs,
a lack of work and attorneys seeking greener pastures. Another
Thacher source adds, "The people at Thacher are wonderful, but the
market downturn has reduced the number of deals, and consequently
the number of opportunities to learn the trade of being a
On the other hand, one insider paints an upbeat picture of the
firm culture: "Partners and associates have excellent open
relationships. The firm fosters an open-door policy. While the
transactional practice can be demanding, all attorneys, including
partners, remain even-keeled. I have no difficulty reaching a
partner at 1 a.m. if I need to; in fact, it is encouraged to reach
out for assistance." A litigator agrees that Thacher's culture
remains "very relaxed despite the upheaval in capital markets."
Another concedes that Thacher may be "changing, but is still
clinging to its low-key roots." Alas, though, as one corporate
specialist laments, "The firm culture has declined significantly
over the past year. People do their work, if any, and then go home
as quickly as possible."
The firm's compensation is about average, associates saymarket
salaries, but below-market bonuses. As one New Yorker reports, "The
firm pays market, which I am of course satisfied with. However, we
do not offer the special bonus, which some of the other firms were
able to offer." Many of Thacher's departments and offices have had
far too little work in recent months, associates say, which can be
a double-edged sword. As one insider puts it, "It was a nice
vacation for a while to be a Thacher attorney." One thing that
Thacher associates do rave about is their office space. One New
Yorker gushes, "I love my office; it's spacious and has an amazing
view of the river. I have visited a number of law firm offices, and
this is by far the most impressive I have seen." A peer seconds
that emotion: "We have beautiful offices and gorgeous views. I can
see the river, the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey from my office.
I get so much more sunlight sitting at my desk than in most of the
rooms in my East Village apartment."