No real estate revival for corporate lawyers

July 9, 2009

The big corporate law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft isn’t expecting a rebound in the real estate market anytime soon, so it’s asking nearly three-dozen lawyers to take the next year off.

The New York law firm confirmed, in an email statement, that it has asked “34 lawyers to accept a one year, unrestricted sabbatical,” during which the attorneys will receive “one-third of their current compenstaion and medical benefits.”

Cadwalader says it has no choice to put its real estate lawyers on extended vacation. “The debt market, particularly the real estate debt markets, remain very slow.” And that means the firm doesn’t “have enough challenging work” to keep those lawyers busy. Of course, that means putting in all those billable hours into the wee hours of the night.

Now we don’t expect a lot of tears to be shed over a few lawyers losing their jobs. There’s not a lot of crying going on over all the jobs lost on Wall Street.

But  this is an indication that a rebound in the real estate market is still a long way off and that’s not good news for the economy or the financial sector.

Here’s the official firm statement:

The debt markets, particularly the real estate debt markets, remain very slow. As a result, Cadwalader’s Capital Markets and Real Estate Finance groups do not have enough challenging work for all the lawyers, particularly the young lawyers, in these groups. Unfortunately, two years into this financial crisis, there are no near term solutions for the problems which vex these markets. In order to address this situation, Cadwalader has asked 34 lawyers to accept a one year, unrestricted sabbatical. During the sabbatical, participating lawyers will receive one-third of their current compensation and medical benefits. In addition, a committee comprised of partners and senior administrators will work diligently to place these lawyers with clients, prospective clients, and not-for-profit organizations.

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