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James Woolery Named Chairman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft

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James C. Woolery returned to practicing law just one year ago after leaving the investment banking industry. Now, he has been appointed to lead the firm he joined, according to The New York Times.

The firm he works at is Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, which made the announcement on Thursday. Woolery has been named the chairman of the firm. Managing partner will be filled by Patrick Quinn. The appointments will become effective in 2015.

W. Christopher White, the current chair of the firm, will remain in that position until 2014 ends.

“When you have the opportunity to make a transition when you’re strong, any firm would take that,” Woolery said in an interview with The New York Times. “We want to have an very orderly and seamless transition.”

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Woolery joined the firm from JPMorgan Chase. He worked there as the co-head of the bank’s North American Mergers practice. Woolery worked for Cravath, Swaine & Moore for 17 years prior to joining JPMorgan Chase. He rose as high as partner at that firm.

Since Woolery joined Cadwalader, the firm worked on Dell’s $24.9 billion deal to turn private. He brought the deal with him from JPMorgan. Woolery has also worked on the sale of Elan to Perrigo and the settlement of Air Products and Chemical with William A. Ackman since joining Cadwalader.

“In some industries that have four or five players at the top of the heap, there’s a limit to how many deals can be done,” Woolery said. “What we’re saying is, ‘Think not just about the deal you want to do, think about the deal you want to disrupt.’”

The firm does not rank in the top 15 legal advisers for mergers in 2013, so it has some work to finish.

“It may be premature to think that we’ll be moving up the league tables in 10 months,” White said. “But the partner commitment is really strong.”

Woolery will be responsible for adding new clients to the firm and new business. Quinn will be responsible for managing the partnership at the firm.

“This demonstrates that we’re putting a client orientation on the chairman role,” Woolery said. “But you have to have balance and a team-oriented role in managing the partnership.”

The firm is changing the way it operates, which is evident by how quickly Woolery and Quinn have risen into major roles within the firm. The firm has been in business for 222 years.

Open positions for lawyers at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft can be found using the browse jobs feature at LawCrossing.

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