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Legal Commentary

: Adam Smith, Esq.

Thacher, Proffitt Wood LLP: 1848 - 2008

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A Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays story of the first order:

As noted this morning by The New York Times, Above The Law, and The WSJ Law Blog, Sonnenschein is acquiring about 100 lawyers, including 40 partners, from 160-year-old Thacher Proffitt & Wood—technically, not a merger of the firms but a large lateral group acquisition.  The lawyers come from Thacher's four main practice areas, including Structured Finance, Corporate and Financial Institutions, Real Estate, and Litigation, and include the chairs of each group.. 

The sad news is that this represents the end of the road for Thacher as a firm, but the reason to celebrate is that this extremely talented group of lawyers will have the opportunity to remain together, serving their clients from a broader, more diversified, and financially strengthened platform.

Are there larger lessons in this deal for our industry?  I believe so, but for now I'll leave those for another day.  (Hint:  They have to do with heavy concentration on specific practice areas.) 

For the moment, it's a much-needed vote of confidence in the ultimate recovery of the financial services sector:  Thacher's core clientele included all the biggest banks and investment banks and today a marquee client is the US Treasury Department itself, under the TARP program.  The sector will regain a pulse eventually, and this is a sign that I'm not alone in that faith.

Sad as it is to see a storied firm, bombed out of the World Trade Center twice and still resilient, reach the end of its road, what really matters is not the name of a brand, but the individual lawyers and professionals. No one at Thacher died during the two WTC attacks, and none will "die" professionally today. That's why it's a good news holiday story. They are living to fight another day, and (disclosure) from personal experience and acquaintance, I can testify that they're fighters.

Full post as published by Adam Smith, Esq. on December 22, 2008 (boomark / email).

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