Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP - The Inside View

Our next guest is steeped in 230 years of history and one of NY’s most established outfits... welcome Cadwalader!  

“Somewhere with history and stability” was on top of the firm wish-list for one of our interviewees, whose decision to join Cadwalader was unarguably well made. The firm has been a fixture of New York for over two centuries, making it one of, if not the oldest firm on Wall Street. The firm has since opened up offices in Washington, Charlotte, London, and as of April last year, Dublin too. Cadwalader’s new Irish base follows in the footsteps of other big US players looking to strategically position themselves in a post-Brexit world.

While Cadwalader's presence in the Big Apple is sizable, it’s not the largest outfit in the city. Reflecting on the past year, managing partner Pat Quinn tells us “Cadwalader has had another strong year – both externally in regard to our clients and internally with our own lawyers. We have been able to achieve this continued success by focusing on our market-leading litigation, transactional and regulatory practices.” The firm’s derivatives and capital markets team (for both securitization and structured products) is held in particular esteem, with a top ranking nationwide from Chambers USA. Its restructuring team in New York is similarly top-ranked, as is the firm’s real estate finance team in North Carolina. For the full list of the firm’s rankings, head to

"Partners were open to teaching me."

For many of this year's juniors, however, it was the people as opposed to Cadwalader’s legal clout that helped seal the deal.  As one source told us: “Partners were comfortable with the fact that I had little to no experience in securitization and were open to teaching me about the work they do,” while another commented on the grace exuded by senior staff: “The hard work is always appreciated; partners randomly send me thank you emails or call to ask me how I am. People tend to have a soft touch here.”

Strategy & Future 

Managing partner Pat Quinn updated us on the firms progress as of late: He adds: “In our litigation practice we’ve been focusing on growth for the past couple of years. In 2021 we were able to bring in a great team from Boies Schiller, including Nicholas Gravante, Philip Iovieno, Karen Dyer and Lawrence Brandman.” Overseas, Cadwalader has also recently moved its London office to 100 Bishopsgate in the heart of the city: “The new space is really spectacular! Not only is the building beautiful and functional but it also has the capacity for us to double our headcount, which supports our growth plan in London.”

The Work 

Around two thirds of the associates on our list were situated in New York with Charlotte scooping up the second biggest chunk (14), followed by DC(8). A vast majority of incoming associates will join one of the firm’s transactional groups, the largest being capital markets which takes over a quarter of juniors.  Finance also takes on a significant number of associates with the rest being distributed around the firm’s other areas including litigation, financial services, and tax. In DC, juniors reported mainly receiving work through a designated coordinator, typically in the form of a senior associate on their team. In New York, sources highlighted that informal networking was also key to securing opportunities. For example, one junior told us: “We have litigation lunches where partners offer the younger associates work that they feel would be beneficial for our development.”

In the behemoth that is thecapital marketsdepartment, work is divided between CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities) and CLOs (collateralized loan obligation).When in the CLO subgroup, the team tackle middle-market transactions, typically representing the lender. Newbies within this group were frequently left in charge of drafting basic documents, corresponding with local counsel, and responding to client questions. As they creep up to their third year, associates take on a more managerial role in the form of “reviewing and revising the work of others; working as the lead associate on transactions; maintaining the documents; and making sure admin tasks are being handled correctly.” On the CMBS side of the department, the firm acts for large multinational banks on matters like public issuances, private placements, and high-yield bonds.Overall, our survey results indicate associates in capital markets were happy campers, receiving both challenging and fun work. “I’ve become more confident in my skills as an attorney,” one source told us, adding that “whether it’s been through drafting or talking openly with partners, I've always felt like a contributing member of the team.”Although generally satisfied, we did hear some grumbles, with one source noting that “some partners have a ring of higher-up associates who are sometimes a little reluctant to give up their responsibilities.”

“The funds finance practice is growing rapidly.”

As of late, the department has been taking on a lot of SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) work. “It’sa real growing area of finance,” one insider emphasized.For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, a SPAC company is formed to purely raise capital through an IPO. Our sources reflected that “the fund finance practice is leaps and bounds beyond the other firms in the market and is growing rapidly.”

Capital markets clients: Morgan Stanley, Greystone & Co, and Arbor Reality Trust. Represented Wells Fargo in connection with a $3 billion financing for One Vanderbilt, a newly constructed trophy skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan.

In finance, attorneys can pick up deals from three main buckets: real estate finance, fund finance and general finance. Cadwalader specializes in the lender side, mainly working for big banks. An attorney explained the general protocol for a funds finance deal: “Put simply, clients will approach us for funding, and we make it happen. That means dealing with the subscription, the credit facilities, documenting the credit agreement, and building the structure for the security package.”For juniors, this means “drafting the security documents, running through checklists, and acting as the primary contact for the client.”

Finance clients: Bank of America, Alternative Reference Rates Committee, Natixis, Credit Suisee, and U.S. Bank National Association. Acted for Bank of America on the closing of a $4.1 billion credit facility to funds managed by The Carlyle Group.

“... the protein team.”

Over in antitrust, the team take on both plaintiff and defense side work on a wide range of matters, including antitrust litigation and merger clearance. An attorney jokingly described the group as “the protein team.” No, they aren’t a bunch of bodybuilders, but rather some of the work deals with restaurant chains on food-related and pricing disputes. One source added: “We typically represent restaurants pursuing claims against the food producers.” Associates are usually left to draft responses, negotiate the scope of discovery with the defendants, draft complaints, and communicate with clients. Towards their third year, associates receive more substantial tasks such as attending depositions. One source told us: “On one recent case, I did all the prep with the support of a partner and attended the deposition - it was a real highlight for me.”

Antitrust clients:McDonald’s, Costco, and Rumble. Represented Kraft Heinz, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, and Winn-Dixie as plaintiffs in an ongoing antitrust litigation alleging that the leading suppliers of Pork participated in a price-fixing conspiracy.

Pro Bono 

“Cadwalader provides loads of pro bono opportunities,”our interviewees agreed. However, many of juniors found they were too busy working on billable matters to fully take advantage of them. “I’ve not been able to pick up any projects yet but I’m itching to join!” one source relayed.Still, those with a few extra hours to spare at the end of the working week were able to get stuck into a good variety of matters, including assisting transgender individuals with name changes at clinics: “I’d prepare and submit the necessary documents to the court to ensure our clients could change their name to one that they felt was in line with their gender identity.” 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 6,341
  • Average per US attorney: 17

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 2,000 required

To score a bonus, attorneys need to hit 2,000 billable hours, 100 of which can be comprised of things like pro bono, training and marketing. For a high-tier bonus, associates must bill 2,200 hours. Mid and end of year reviews can sway the outcome for associates who are a little shy of the requirement. One source clarified: “If you’re on the fringe of getting the bonus, a good review always helps. They don’t, however, detract from your bonus and can only be in your favor.” On average, associates we interviewed started the day at 9am and typically stayed on the grind until around 7.30pm.

Incomers should be aware that capital markets, alongside other transactional areas, can be notoriously demanding. Indeed, in busy periods some associates reported working up to 80 hours a week. Thankfully, the firm has recently implemented a new policy to help associates manage stress, and “is bringing in counselors as an extra resource for us to seek help with our mental wellbeing. They will be available on a daily basis,” sources explained. One associate also valued the “flexible” vacation policy, explaining that “if you’re off, you’re actually off and won’t be contacted about new work.”


“The firm’s vibe is calm, professional and warm – I genuinely enjoy the people I work with,” an interviewee summarized. According to our latest survey, the large majority of attorneys felt camaraderie is strong at the firm: “It’s very team-centric with emphasis on team building activities and networking within the firm.”With constant cross-office work, associates didn’t notice many cultural differences between locations, with one describing Cadwalader as having a “one-firm culture.”

In New York we were told that the coffee machine acts as colleagues’ hotspot when catching up on their new favorite Netflix shows. Sources also mentioned events like cooking classes, trivia quizzes, and wine tasting filling up the social calendar. Some reflected that the firm felt quite hierarchical at times, but the majority seemed to have a happy relationship with management. As articulated by one insider: “Partners provide us with great feedback and seem to be truly invested in our professional development.”

Career Development 

As soon as they walk through the gates of Cadwalader, rookies are buddied up with two mentors. They also receive a budget for each mentor that goes towards bonding activities such as lunches, dinners, or perhaps even a mani-pedi! An interviewee enthused: “We’re encouraged to stay in constant contact with our mentors and the firm really facilitates those relationships.”Associates also receive a business development plan that is discussed during the review process: “We fill out our objectives which then goes to the HR manager. We then have a meeting and discuss our progress.” Attorneys also sit down with a partner and set new objectives for the coming year.

“Partners often reach out to me and ask me key questions about my career.”

Learning is similarly valued at the firm, with first and second-years able to attend professional development programs on a weekly basis. Every two weeks, the firm also has practice area-specific training: “The programs tend to be quite specialized. Partners and senior associates talk us through things like technical skills, market updates, and trends in particular area.”Overall, sources were super happy with the development opportunities at the firm, as one gushed: “Partners often reach out to me and ask me key questions about my career, like who do I want to work with and where I want to go with my practice.” Although our survey results indicate that achievable partnership was difficult, a healthy quarter of our respondents still intended to make it.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

On the subject of D&I, sources agreed that “Cadwalader is doing a great job at making diverse attorneys feel welcome and continues to further diversify its roster.” The firm’s affinity groups, in particular, were singled out for acclaim in our survey. Associates mentioned groups for Asian, Black and Latino attorneys, LGBTQ+, parents, veterans, women, as well as one for first generation professionals. Affinity groups hold meetings every two weeks to discuss “activities geared towards getting to know each other, internal matters, and points we want to raise with management in town hall meetings,” sources explained.

The firm also hosts a civil rights series where speakers come into the firm and talk about issues like voting rights and immigration. In addition, both women and other diverse associates can make use of the firm’s sponsorship program which pairs protégés with a senior member or ‘sponsor’ to help boost their careers via mentorship and training. Still, while impressed with efforts to foster an inclusive environment, our sources also felt that "representation at the top could be better,” reflecting an industry-wide problem.

Get Hired

The first stage

OCI applicants interviewed: 928 (OCI/Job Fairs)

Interviewees outside OCI: 72 interviewees (resume collection, write-in, etc.)

Cadwalader participates in around 25 OCIs and job fairs across the country, targeting both top nationwide law schools as well as regional schools near the firm’s offices. The firm also participates in resume collects and accepts write-in applications.

The OCIs themselves are usually conducted by a mix of partners and associates “representing different practices areas and life experiences,” according to Lisa Pauquette, chair of the hiring committee. At this stage, interviewers tend to ask questions surrounding the candidate’s resume. Pauquette explains: “We want to get a sense of who they are, where their legal interests lie and how their life experiences to date contribute to the kind of lawyer they want to be and the kind of person we are looking to hire.”

Top tips for this stage:

Authenticity counts, so carefully articulate who you are, what your current career goals look like, desirable attributes you would bring to the firm and so on. Knowing who you are and maximizing your strengths can separate you from other top candidates” – chair of the hiring committee, Lisa Pauquette.


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 625

Candidates that make it through to the callback stage can expect to meet with four attorneys – two associates and two partners – for a two-hour interview. The firm employs behavioral interviewing to evaluate candidates and find out whether or not they will be a “good fit” for the firm. Interviewers look for competencies including initiative/selfmotivation/work ethic; communication/demeanor; analytical thinking/judgement/creativity and innovation; flexibility/multitasking; collaboration; interest in the firm and its practices; and involvement in the community.

Cadwalader has partnered with the predictive candidate screening platform Suited to help us better understand our applicants. Our goal is to make the recruiting process as fair, inclusive, and seamless as possible, in hopes of finding the right candidates who will be fulfilled in their roles and complementary to our culture. All candidates are asked to complete the assessment prior to their interview. This new system will expand access for all candidates, as Cadwalader continues to strive to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a widespread reality.

Top tips for this stage:

"We look for candidates who have a genuine interest in the firm and our practices. It is very important to convey your interest clearly and concisely during the interview.” – chair of the hiring committee, Lisa Pauquette

Summer program

Offers: 31

Cadwalader’s summer program is ten weeks long. There is no formal rotation system, and summers are encouraged to take assignments from any practice group through an assignment database or directly from attorneys. Each summer is assigned two associate assignment managers who “filter work and ensure that each associate is receiving assignments from preferred practice areas.” Summers also receives a partner mentor and a junior associate mentor with whom they are encouraged to “communicate regularly throughout the summer.” Over the ten weeks, there are a variety of trainings from both internal and external sources, plus regular social events “to encourage summer associates to get to know each other and the attorneys in a setting outside of the office.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Network, network and network some more, connecting with as many firm lawyers as possible, especially at the many programs and events designed for summers to meet out attorneys and get to know the firm well.” – chair of the hiring committee, Lisa Pauquette.

Formal training at Cadwalader

Juniors at Cadwalader get regular trainings on both “the substance of law” as well as sessions aimed at “helping you develop as a professional.” For example, one source mentioned having “training yesterday on different client events and how to build business.” Other interviewees flagged semi-regular practice-specific trainings where partners or senior associates would “walk us through different parts of documents and explain why they matter.”

Interview with Pat Quinn, managing partner of Cadwalader

Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm’s current market position?  

Pat Quinn: Cadwalader has had another strong year – both externally in regard to our clients and internally with our own lawyers. We have been able to achieve this continued success by focusing our energy and resources on areas in which we excel, such as our market-leading litigation, transactional and regulatory practices. It is all about delivering the highest-quality work and exceptional client service, and ensuring that we support our lawyers through a culture of collaboration and cooperation.

CA: How would you define Cadwalader's culture?

PQ: The culture is generally relaxed in terms of the way we interact with each other. We are not a hierarchical firm either – there isn’t a big separation between partners and associates. The way we see it, the life of a lawyer is challenging enough, so we do our best not to impose any extra challenges. Cadwalader also has an immensely proud history, which is underpinned by a great institutional presence. Our people feel very lucky to work here, and they take their experiences at Cadwalader with them throughout their careers.

CA: Are there highlights from the past year or in the firm’s immediate future you think our readers should be aware about? 

PQ: We have a clear strategy for growth and success. In our litigation practice, for example, we’ve been focusing on growth for the past couple of years. In 2021, we were able to bring in a great team from Boies Schiller, including Nicholas Gravante, Philip Iovieno, Karen Dyer and Lawrence Brandman. Our new litigators complement what is already an outstanding Trials Team. It's important for our clients to know that we have lawyers that are more than willing to go to trial if need be.

Cadwalader has also recently moved its London office, and the new space is really spectacular! Not only is the building beautiful and functional but it also has the capacity for us to double our headcount, which supports our growth plan in London. In addition, our space is consolidated, so our lawyers now all sit nearby, which means it will be even easier to collaborate across the London office.

CA: What lessons has Cadwalader taken from the pandemic?

PQ: The pandemic has taught us a lot of lessons about what is absolutely necessary when delivering a high-quality service for our clients. These tough times have opened our eyes to the need for flexibility, which we’ve been able to provide for all our lawyers. This has been particularly necessary for our younger lawyers – making sure they receive the training they deserve while working from home. Now that we’re all back in the office for at least three days a week, we are re-introducing our more traditional training process.

CA: Does the firm have any set targets with regards to diversity? What policies are in place/what new policies are the firm implementing to ensure that the firm meets these targets?  

PQ: Diversity and inclusion have been priorities for us for a long, long time. We focus on providing a working environment that all of our people are comfortable in and want to be a part of – no matter their background. We do this through our recruiting process, our D&I networks, our professional training programs, and our pro bono efforts. Through all these initiatives, we’ve been able to ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the center of everything we do at Cadwalader.

CA: Any advice for those about to enter the legal industry? 

PQ: Law continues to be a wonderful and tremendously fulfilling career. Of course, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Law is a great career for people who really want to dedicate themselves professionally and are prepared to work very hard on behalf of clients. I advise new lawyers to understand the need to be flexible; we’re no longer tied to our office space. Although this has its perks, it also requires more effort on how we as lawyers can continue to build strong relationships with our colleagues and clients.


Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

200 Liberty Street,
New York,
NY 10281

  • Head office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 3
  • Number of international offices: 2
  • Worldwide revenue: $608.953 million
  • Partners (US): 91
  • Associates (US): 174
  • Other attorneys: 105
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Tara Conlon, Director of Legal Recruitment (
  • Hiring partners: Lisa Pauquette (NY) Jodi Avergun (DC) Henry LaBrun (Charlotte)
  • Diversity officer: La Tonya Brooks, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 24
  • Clerking policy: Case by case
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 30, 1:s: 2, SEO: 3 
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: New York: 21, Washington, DC: 2Ls: 3, 1Ls: 1 ; Charlotte, NC: 2Ls: 6, 1Ls: 1 
  • Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $3,942 /week 2Ls: $3,942 /week 
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work
The firm offers legal representation in antitrust, banking, corporate finance, corporate governance, executive compensation, financial restructuring, health care, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, private wealth, real estate, financial regulation, securitization, structured finance, tax and white collar defense.

Firm profile
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is a leading transatlantic law firm providing outstanding legal counsel to many of the world's top financial institutions, corporations and funds. Founded 230 years ago and with offices today in New York, London, Charlotte, Washington and Dublin, the firm’s litigation and transactional and other practices advise clients on matters across the business landscape, addressing and anticipating their wide range of commercial and regulatory risks and opportunities. The firm is widely regarded as a legal innovator across financial asset classes and has been consistently recognized across multiple areas of specialized finance, corporate and business law. Cadwalader’s exceptional team continues the firm’s legacy of valuing a highly collaborative and inclusive culture, pro bono service and client-centric innovation.
The firm has a determined and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, which it pursues through year-round initiatives, programs and events to support and engage with diverse talent, and with open and direct communication to the entire firm about the importance of these initiatives, including the firm-wide value of allyship. 

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
American, Brooklyn, Cardozo, University of Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington University. 

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We accept student applications through resume collections, on-campus resume drops, referrals, write-ins and job fairs.

In 2022 we will be participating in the following job fairs: BU/BC NYC Job Fair, Cornell NYC Job Fair, Lavender Law, MCGC NYC Job Fair, and NEBLSA Job Fair. 

Summer associate profile:
Cadwalader is a community of talented and driven individuals committed to innovation and premier client service. We seek candidates with a record of academic and personal achievement who exhibit excellent communication skills and professionalism and who are analytical and creative thinkers. 

Summer program components:
Under the supervision of experienced attorneys, summer associates have an opportunity to make meaningful contributions to ongoing projects. You will work on diverse and challenging assignments in a variety of our practice areas, participate in substantive and skill building sessions and take on pro bono work. Our goal is to give you exposure to the various aspects of the practice of law: meeting with clients; participating in strategy and negotiation sessions; conducting research; drafting memos, documents and pleadings; and attending closings, depositions and court appearances. Associate and partner mentors will work closely with you throughout the summer. In addition to getting feedback on individual projects from supervising lawyers, you will also participate in mid-summer and end-of-summer formal evaluations. 

Social media
Recruitment website:
Linkedin: cadwalader-wickersham-&-taft-llp
Twitter: @Cadwalader

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust: Mainly Plaintiff (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Shareholder Activism (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CMBS (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CRE CLOs (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Structured Products (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 2)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)