Nicholas Gravante, the former co-managing partner of Boies Schiller & Flexner, is looking to reunite with former partners as he seeks to establish his new firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, as a go-to destination for big-ticket litigation, he said in an interview with Bloomberg Law.
“The main selling point would be to rejoin forces with people whom they have litigated with successfully, and with a great amount of professional satisfaction previously, to the extent they may be interested and want to roll up their sleeves and work together to build,” Gravante said.
Gravante became the head of commercial litigation at Cadwalader on Jan. 1. News that he would depart the embattled Boies Schiller, along with partners Philip Iovieno, Karen Dyer, and Lawrence Brandman, rocked the legal industry last month.
The firm, founded by famed litigator David Boies, lost around 60 partners last year. None of them had as publicly and strenuously defended the strength of Boies Schiller as Gravante, who insisted in multiple interviews while at the firm that it was purposely dwindling in order to strengthen its focus.
Now, Gravante is in growth mode at Cadwalader, which is well-known as a corporate practice that represents financial industry clients. He is focusing on increasing the amount of litigation Cadwalader does for longstanding clients while also introducing his group’s litigation clients from other industries to Cadwalader’s corporate partners.
The New York-based trial lawyer said he wants to recruit partners whom he previously worked with at Boies Schiller, but he noted he wasn’t interested in “poaching” partners remaining at his previous firm.
He said he started conversations with some former Boies Schiller partners in December.
“It’s about building, and the more talented people we bring in who we’ve worked with before and we truly enjoy working with, that’s what makes any litigation group truly successful,” Gravante said.
Gravante said his group will continue to work on cases it handled at Boies Schiller, representing plaintiff-side clients including BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., Darden Restaurants, Inc., Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., and others who are pursuing antitrust claims alleging chicken suppliers conspired to raise prices.
Cadwalader is a familiar firm for Gravante. It already hired former Boies Schiller partners including Michael Petrella, Amanda Devereux, and Sean O’Shea, who launched a trial practice at Cadwalader in early 2019.
Gravante had also previously pursued a merger between Boies Schiller and Cadwalader, Bloomberg Law reported last month. While he confirmed those discussions took place, Gravante said the decision not to consummate that deal played no part in his decision to leave Boies Schiller. He noted the merger talks were scuttled between 18 months and two years ago.
Gravante declined to elaborate on his decision to leave Boies Schiller, saying it is “an outstanding firm” and offering it well-wishes.