Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP - The Inside View

Born just three years after the Constitution came into force, Cadwalader may be a monolith of Wall Street, but it has not stood still.

IT'S hard to imagine a New York without a Statue of Liberty. But for nearly a century before Liberty rocked up with her torch, Cadwalader was already standing tall in the city shining its own light. And, as if embodying the spirit of the statue as it greets new arrivals to America's shores, Pat Quinn, Cadwalader's managing partner, muses: “If you come here, you're part of something bigger than just a job. Who wouldn't want to be part of that history, and of the next chapter of that institution?”

The firm shake-up we reported on last year has left our sources unmoved. This firm was, they rationalized, founded in 1792 and is made of sturdy stuff. Our interviewees insisted that it was “all positive: we have more events, it's a little smaller and you feel more comfortable walking around getting to know everyone.” The effect, from what we can tell, is a more loyal associate cohort: “I am the biggest cheerleader of Cadwalader – three years later I'm happy with my job and my choice.” Wall Street old-timers might remember this firm's reputation for ruthlessness, but post-2008 crash the firm's leaders have sought to create a different, more supportive, collaborative atmosphere associates attest to this every time we interview them.

Cadwalader has, for centuries now, done things very well. Its most successful practice area is capital markets,with the derivatives and securitization departments taking top rankings in Chambers USA, plus many rankings in real estate, corporate, energy, financial services, healthcare, litigation, tax and more.

The Work

At the time of our calls, 43 of 66 juniors were based in Manhattan, with the rest in DC and Charlotte. The firm also boasts offices in London and Brussels, though junior travel opportunities “are quite limited,” with international work mainly conducted out of New York. Head office associates are most likely to work in either capital markets or corporate, but there are also junior associates in litigation, IP, financial services, restructuring and tax. DC claimed seven associates, spread between the office's main areas of practice: capital markets, white collar defense & investigations, and antitrust. Charlotte's associates were split between capital markets and finance. Each team has a professional development manager who can dish out work, but there's also an “informal approach where a partner who has worked with an associate before says 'can you help out on another case?'”

"I feel like it's been a really natural progression.”

It came as no surprise that New Yorkers in capital markets were comfortably busy: “There's one associate who's on eight separate matters. I mean, it's great but that's not humanly possible!” Associates in this department commonly get involved in creating investment vehicles from various debt and asset classes. Sources were mainly doing commercial backed securities – “I often do sales of securities and assets that are not cash.” In DC, recent capital markets work has included advising “a company that operates all airports in Argentina. We assisted them with a bond offering. I got to review and draft all the documents. It was the best thing about the second year.”

A real estate insider told us: “We typically represent finance for the letting side of commercial real estate.” A highlight was “going from drafting to working directly with the client and answering their questions – I feel like it's been a really natural progression.” A Charlotte finance insider told us: “Responsibility differs, but often I'm in charge of turning credit agreements, which is a great learning experience.”

The litigation group has gone through a rebranding in recent years. “When I started we were 'corporate litigation'; now we're 'corporate and financial services litigation and regulation.'” But be assured this is “just a long name for litigation!" As you might expect, the firm's penchant for finance dictates the theme of much of this litigation team's work, which, associates felt, is often "litigation work for the other departments.” But associates didn't find this restrictive: "If you balance it right you can do a lot of different types of work.” In litigation, responsibilities might take the form of “shareholder disputes, antitrust, white-collar, breach of contract, and IP matters.”Sources were keen to mention: “We don't have many midlevels, so I've had a fair amount of important drafting experience and being in client meetings.”

Training & Development

Associates “have weekly training in various relevant areas.” As one capital markets associate said, “they take the time and treat us as an investment.” Incoming classes can also look forward to a Cadwalader iPhone app complete with all necessary resources. MP Pat Quinn says: “We're proud of our focus on technology – we're constantly looking at the way the next generation of lawyers will practice.”

"We're very focused on the way the next generation of lawyers will practice.”

There's a mentorship program, which matches juniors with a junior mentor. Each pair is given a budget, and they do things like “see great Broadway shows.” One pair saw a show on “the night it was filmed, and now you can see them in the audience on Netflix!” Additionally, new associates are given a partner mentor; one associate revealed: “My partner mentor is the nicest person in America.” Aside from formal training, one junior said: “The best training comes when you're actually working on a deal and they sit down and explain things line by line.” Many prefer this informal training and note it encompasses peer-to-peer learning too. “By the second year, we don't interact a ton with the partners. We're like border collies, we train each other!” First years have biannual reviews, and everyone else gets an annual review.


Though the firm-wide diversity figures are typical for BigLaw, our sources were optimistic about the newest classes of associates and the prospects for minorities, women and LGBT lawyers: “Cadwalader's definitely responding to culture as it shifts,” an associate thought. One associate involved in hiring told us: “Our dedicated committees have made recruiting diverse candidates the number one focus, and that's shown so much.” This ground-up approach continues with the start of a training program that sponsors talented candidates from diverse backgrounds at different points in their careers. Pat Quinn tells us: “It is important that the next generation of leaders at our firm include our increasingly diverse legal team. There's a place for everybody here.”

Cadwalader's affinity groups put on events throughout the year, and “they're heavily attended and have a lot of support from the administration.” In Charlotte, the women's affinity group's community-engaged events include “Girls in Finance, where we invited girls from local high schools to come and get ideas about jobs in finance.” Other affinity events are more social: “We'll have Chinese calligraphy night where we have classes and drinks.” Many associates pointed out: “It's reflected in our pro bono immigration work that they're really supporting diversity.”

Pro Bono

A NY litigation associate told us: “Pro bono is heavily encouraged in the firm as a whole. In our department, everyone is involved with at least one pro bono case.” Not everyone we spoke to in New York could partake, though: “I haven't done any – the hours are long enough!” This doesn't seem to be the case in DC, however: “It doesn't affect anyone’s work at all. Everyone has done pro bono.”

Many work in “an immigration law clinic that was opened by a second-year associate a few years ago. A lot of litigators take on pro bono cases there.” Immigration is popular pro bono work in DC as well, with one associate “working on an immigration case for a kid that's nine years old." Associates got a buzz from this kind of work: "We're primarily a transactional firm – it's nice to break away from that and serve the local community.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 6,314
  • Average per US attorney: 20

Hours & Compensation

Typical reports of regular hours were “during busy times, eight-to-nine billables each day, and when it slows down seven billables each day.” However, one capital markets associate noted: “The most I've billed in a day is 19 hours. It's like, why even bother going home when I can just shower at the gym?”

The hours put in were as demanding as you might expect from this sector of the market, but flexibility and a practical attitude was noted across the board: “My assignments allow me to structure my time as I want to, which I appreciate.” Associates in New York reported doing some work remotely, but we detected that inDC there's more freedom to do it: “People regularly work from home when they're not needed in the office.”

Associates get the bonus if they bill 1,800 hours plus 200 'quality non-billables.' Additionally, associates were keen to tell us: “If you supersede that and get 2,200 hours, you get a 120% bonus that we call the 'super bonus.'”

Cadwalader has 'unlimited vacation,' which apparently associates translate as “take what you dare.” Luckily, it seems a lot less scary in numbers: “I took 20 days off as a first year. It's around 14 to 20 on average, maybe more, maybe less.”

Culture & Offices

Associates felt Cadwalader has come some distance since its reputed 'shark tank' days pre-2008 crash. We heard that some partners can be “very loud, but their bark is worse than their bite.” Another associate reassured us: “No one's ever been rude or made me feel that I'm not part of the team.” And “the strongest aspect of life here is how supportive associates are of each other; we all have each other's backs.”

Associates in Charlotte said: “Here we only have about 60 attorneys, so people know each other on a far more personal basis.” DC juniors similarly told us: “Our office is smaller, so everyone loves to talk. We often get emails just inviting everyone out to lunch.”

Manhattan associates joked about their Liberty Street offices: “We call it 50 shades of beige, I think the decor could use some help…” Though the panoramic views left associates without a sarcastic quip: “I have a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson, it's beautiful.” Over at DC there's “a lot of wood. It's a very traditional, classic office with lots of frosted glass.” What DC lacks in uniqueness, it makes up for in substance: “They cleared a few offices to make a lounge with a TV. Some spent Superbowl Sunday there watching the football during their breaks.” The similarly beige Charlotte office is on the rise: “We just expanded our office at the beginning of this year to another floor to accommodate more attorneys.” New Yorkers have to wait until their second year to get their own office, but DC and Charlotte associates get them immediately.


Get Hired

We spoke to outgoing hiring partner Paul Mourning and incoming hiring partner Anne Tompkins about the hiring process at Cadwalader. So, who are Cadwalader on the look out for? One associate told us: “The number one Cadwalader priority is competency and capability – showing Cadwalader that you've worked in a collaborative manner before and that you can be taught.” However, Mourning tells us: “There's no cookie-cutter Cadwalader attorney; the more perspectives we can bring to the table, the greater our ability to deliver outstanding service to our clients.” Tompkins adds: “What we don't want to have is a monolithic practice. We don't live or work in a business world like that. Our diverse law students bring unique skills, ideas and life experiences that make us a multifaceted law firm all the whilereflecting the communities and clients we serve.” Hiring diverse attorneys is “critical to the firm – we want to make sure that our classes of law students reflect the communities we're in, our clients and our world.” As with any firm, getting involved with activities outside the law is highly desirable. Specifically, Tompkins tells us, “we're very active in pro bono. We're listening to what potential summers are interested in doing to support their communities.” Mourning offers a parting piece of wisdom: “Stick your neck out. If there's something you're interested in, approach somebody. Really take advantage of the opportunities, don't hold back, go for it…"

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,251

Interviewees outside OCI: 96

Applicants invited to 2nd stage interview: 399

Offers (2017 Summer Class): 22

Acceptances (2017 Summer Class for Fall 2018 First-Years): 20

Notable summer events:

  • Escape the Room
  • Pasta Making Class at The Institute for Culinary Education for Mentors and Mentees
  • Accomplice
  • Yankees Baseball Game
  • Happy Hour cocktail receptions with each practice group
  • Family Feud Night for Summer Associates and their Partner Mentors
  • Visit to the top of the One World Observatory
  • Trip to the Tenement Museum 
  • Momofuku Milk Bar Cake and Truffles Class
  • Paint Night

Pro Bono

Notable pro bono opportunities (schemes, client affiliations etc.)

Women’s Leadership Initiative Housing Clinic

Attorneys who participate in the WLI Housing Clinic take on Legal Aid Society housing

cases that help low-income women in New York keep their homes in New York City

public housing. The outcome of these cases can make a life-changing difference for

the financially challenged women we represent and their families, particularly at this

time, when affordable housing in New York City is in such short supply.

Immigration Assistance

The firm, through the Cadwalader Black & Latino Association, successfully launched

the CBLA Immigration Clinic in 2015, consisting of a network of Cadwalader

attorneys dedicated to helping marginalized and vulnerable immigrants obtain

legal status through various forms of relief, including asylum applications, Special

Immigrant Juvenile Status proceedings and Violence Against Women Act self-petitions.

Over the last year, the firm has also enjoyed an increase in the number of

pro bono immigration cases and has celebrated numerous successes.

Veterans Affinity Network

Through partnerships with the City Bar Justice Center in New York and the Charlotte

Center for Legal Advocacy, our lawyers assist veteran clients and their family

members with filing disability appeals to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

and preparing discharge upgrade requests to the various military service branches.

We also help staff walk-in clinics designed to address the legal needs of our nation’s

veterans. Cadwalader has lawyers in its U.S. offices who are accredited VA claims

attorneys, as well as litigators with experience handling appeals in the Court of

Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal


Not-for-Profit Incubator

Over the past decade, Cadwalader attorneys and staff have incorporated and obtained tax-exempt status for nearly 300 not-for-

profit organizations under the umbrella of the Not-for-Profit Incubator. We are proud to contribute to the vital work our clients

perform. The Incubator’s clients include —

•a group that provides financial and other aid and services to indigent or underprivileged indigenous people in impoverished

areas struck by natural disaster, including Haiti.

•an organization that promotes religious freedom and liberty by seeking to end the discrimination and judgment that come

with wearing a hijab by educating the public on the meaning of the hijab and providing resources to Muslim women who face discrimination for wearing the hijab.

•a foundation that provides a mentoring program designed to promote personal growth and academic excellence to minority male high school students to develop them into successful


CLN Transgender Name Change Project

Cadwalader’s LGBT Network (CLN) partners with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s (TLDEF) Name Change Project to provide free legal name change services to low-income transgender people. Securing a legal name change is an important step toward making many transgender individuals’ legal identities match their lived experience. A lack of appropriate identity documents can deter people from applying for jobs, school, and public benefits, and can lead to discrimination. Securing a legal name change can be a challenging experience without counsel to assist in navigating the court system. Our program seeks to provide people with adequate legal representation to ensure that they can successfully complete the process and move forward with their lives.

Cadwalader has longstanding relationships with many legal service agencies, including:

  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education
  • Fund
  • Catholic Charities DC
  • Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy
  • City Bar Justice Center
  • DC Bar Pro Bono Center
  • Her Justice
  • Human Rights First
  • Immigration Equality
  • Kids In Need of Defense
  • Lambda Legal
  • Lawyers Alliance for New York
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • The Legal Aid Society
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Volunteer Lawyer
  • Program
  • New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
  • New York Legal Assistance Group
  • Sanctuary for Families
  • Start Small Think Big
  • Tahirih Justice Center
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
  • Volunteers of Legal Service
  • Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts
  • Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs




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: $408,000,000
  • Partners (US): 77
  • Associates (US): 172
  • Other attorneys: 72
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Tara Conlon, Director of Legal Recruitment (
  • Hiring partners: Anne Tompkins
  • Diversity officer: La Tonya Brooks, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 21
  • Clerking policy: Case by case
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 2Ls 35, SEO 2
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: New York 27, Washington, D.C. 5, Charlotte 3
  • Summer salary 2018: 1Ls: $3,462/week 2Ls: $3,462/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, business fraud, capital markets, corporate finance, corporate governance, energy, executive compensation, financial restructuring, healthcare, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, private wealth, real estate, regulation, securitization, structured finance and tax.

Firm profile

  Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, established in 1792, is a leading legal advisor to many of the world’s top financial institutions and corporations, with offices in New York, London, Charlotte, Washington D.C. and Brussels. Lawyers provide counsel on sophisticated and complex transactional, litigation, and regulatory matters to help our clients break new ground, achieve their business goals, and overcome challenges.


 Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2018:
American, Berkeley, Boston University, Brooklyn, Cardozo, University of Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia and Washington University.

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

In 2018 we will be participating in the following job fairs: BU/BC NYC Job Fair, Cornell NYC Job Fair, Emory NYC Job Fair, Lavender Law, MCGC NYC Job Fair, MCGC DC Job Fair, NEBLSA Job Fair and The Law Consortium DC 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 expose you 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-ofsummer formal evaluations.

Social media


This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance Recognised Practitioner
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Derivatives (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)