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Cadwalader Loses Top Executive Pay Partner to McDermott

Sept. 6, 2016, 1:53 PM

After a busy end-of-August in the business of law world, news broke again over Labor Day: Steve Eckhaus, the chair of Cadwalader’s executive compensation practice group, is joining McDermott Will & Emery.

That’s one more out the door of the New York law firm, which in August saw its top antitrust team in Washington, D.C. decamp for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison .

Here at Big Law Business, we’ve been keeping a running tally of news over at Cadwalader, which is more than 200 years old but has seen some notable partners defect in the past two years, starting with Jim Woolery — who was being groomed to take over as chair of the firm — in January 2015.

Other recent firm news includes:

• In February, its chief information officer Tom Baldwin joined consultancy, Fireman & Company.

• In March, Louis Solomon, co-chair of Cadwalader’s litigation department, joined Greenberg Traurig with three other partners.

• In July, the firm hired Jeremy Cross, the former European chief finance officer of King & Wood Mallesons.

• Shortly following its antitrust team joined Paul, Weiss in August, the firm canceled its 2017 summer associate program in Washington, D.C.

Word started to trickle out about Eckhaus’s move last week, and by Monday, sure enough, the word was officially out, via a Wall Street Journal article reporting the transition.

Eckhaus is joining McDermott as a partner, along with special counsel Shane Stroud and senior attorney Evan Belosa, Eckhaus told Big Law Business in an interview Tuesday morning.

“McDermott is one of the premier executive compensation and benefits practice in the country,” explained Eckhaus. “It just made more sense for me to be part of that, rather than continue to practice at Cadwalader.”

His clients have included former Morgan Stanley wealth-and-asset management chief Gregory Fleming, Putnam Investments CEO Robert Reynolds and former Lehman Brothers chief financial officer Erin Callan, according to a 2011 profile in The Wall Street Journal.

Eckhaus joined Cadwalader from Katten Muchin Rosenman in 2013. He had worked at Katten for five years, and before that he was the head of employment law at McCarter & English between 2004 and 2008.

Asked about defections at the firm, Eckhaus called Cadwalader “one of the best firms in the world.”

“I don’t think there’s anything unusual about (the turnover).”

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