Jim Woolery, co-head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s North American mergers and acquisitions practice that’s leading in 2013 dealmaking on the continent, is leaving the bank for a senior position at law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
Woolery, who joined JPMorgan in January 2011, will start at Cadwalader on Monday as a deputy chairman, he said in an interview. Woolery previously spent 17 years as an M&A lawyer for Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Woolery, 43, advised Dell Corp. on founder Michael Dell’s offer to take the company private with Silver Lake Management LLC for $24.4 billion, a deal that helped propel JPMorgan to the top spot among mergers advisers in North America. He also worked on AT&T Inc.’s failed effort to acquire Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA.
“This is an opportunity to take a leadership role at a great organization,” Woolery said in the interview. “I will have an opportunity to drive the company and do it directly.”
He will report to Cadwalader chairman Chris White. Cadwalader has about 450 lawyers and 1,000 employees. Woolery said he and White plan to expand the M&A practice at Cadwalader and “enhance the entire platform with lateral hires over time and done prudently.”
Woolery was one of a handful of top M&A lawyers to attempt a switch to investment banking. In 2000, Cravath partner Robert Kindler left to become a banker at Chase Manhattan Corp., now part of JPMorgan, and another partner, George Bilicic, went to Merrill Lynch & Co. In 2005, Dennis Hersch left Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP to join JPMorgan.
Kindler now runs mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley, Bilicic is at Lazard Ltd., and Hersch has left banking.
JPMorgan leads the global M&A financial adviser rankings this year with $97.75 billion in deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It also is No. 1 in North America, the data show. Besides Dell, the firm this year advised on H.J. Heinz Co. being taken private for $27.4 billion and Comcast Corp.’s acquisition of the remaining stake in NBCUniversal.
Chris Ventresca, who had co-run the North American M&A unit with Woolery, will lead the group on his own, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.