Cadwalader lands Boies Schiller leader in litigation team expansion

Nicholas Gravante exits New York firm after just one year as co-managing partner
Cadwalader office sign

DCStockPhotography; Shutterstock

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has hired a team of high-profile litigation lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner, including its managing partner Nicholas Gravante, the latest in a deluge of departures from the New York firm.

Gravante is joined by Philip Iovieno, Karen Dyer and Lawrence Brandman, with Gravante set to become head of Cadwalader’s commercial litigation practice.

Pat Quinn, Cadwalader’s managing partner, said: “Nick has been a builder throughout his career, both in creating a unique practice and reputation for Boies Schiller and in the philanthropic community. Nick is on the shortlist of litigators around the country whenever there is high-stakes litigation.”

Gravante was with Boies Schiller for two decades, becoming co-managing partner in December last year with London-based Natasha Harrison as the firm moved to usher in new management with co-founder David Boies taking a less prominent role after a run of bad publicity including his former representation of now convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein. 

Gravante's exit caps a tumultuous year for the litigation firm, with almost 60 partners jumping ship over the past 12 months, according to the Wall Street Journal. Gravante is one of the US’s most high-profile litigators, recently winning a $663m jury verdict against the manufacturer of highway guardrails, the biggest ever award in a whistleblower action where the US Department of Justice didn’t intervene.

Gravante and his team are the latest additions to Cadwalader’s global litigation group, which also included the arrival of another Boies Schiller trial team last year – Sean O’Shea, Michael Petrella and Amanda Devereux. 

Jason Halper, global litigation group chair, said: “Nick brings so much to our firm – first-class trial capabilities and expertise, a history of building a great practice and exceptional client relationships.”

Like Gravante, Iovieno spent two decades at Boies Schiller. He joins Cadwalader as co-leader of the firm’s antitrust practice alongside Washington DC-based partner Brian Wallach. Dyer, meantime, is a trial lawyer with extensive experience representing Fortune 500 companies in all aspects of commercial litigation. Brandman joins Cadwalader after just six months at Boies Schiller, having previously worked in the banking industry – most recently at Lehman Brothers Holdings, where he was head of bankruptcy strategy for derivatives.

Gravante said: “I have been extremely impressed by the strategic steps that Cadwalader has taken in the past few years to establish its litigation practice as a market leader. I am eager to help build on that success and momentum to create one of the top litigation practices in the country.”

Departures from Boies Schiller this year include a 13-partner West Coast team, which joined King & Spalding in April, and a two-partner move to Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in August.

In an interview with The Financial Times in April, Gravante and Harrison said they were leading a restructuring that included an overhaul of its compensation system for younger lawyers as part of a plan to make it smaller, better organised and focused more heavily on big ticket litigation.

Earlier this week, Alston & Bird announced the hiring of a three-lawyer team from Cadwalader in New York to strengthen its structured finance offering.

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