Scott Barshay Leaving Cravath to Lead M&A at Paul Weiss

Scott Barshay, among the most prominent mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers in the U.S., is joining Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in a rare departure of a partner from Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP.

The 50-year-old Barshay, whose recent assignments included helping Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. navigate a takeover battle, is joining Paul Weiss as global head of mergers and acquisitions, according to a statement on Sunday. The position is newly created.

Barshay spent close to 25 years at Cravath, where his work for clients such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Cameron International helped make that firm the No. 2 M&A legal adviser in North America last year, the busiest on record for corporate mergers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"I honestly never thought I would leave," Barshay said in an interview Sunday. "At the end of the day I couldn’t say no.”

Paul Weiss has extensive international, bankruptcy and restructuring practices -- among others -- that Barshay said will benefit his roster of clients. The New York City-based firm has more than 900 lawyers in eight offices in the U.S., London and Asia. He declined to discuss the specifics of his compensation.

He was recruited by Paul Weiss Chair Brad Karp and Robert B. Schumer, chair of the firm’s corporate department, after the three worked on a recent deal together, Barshay said. Deborah Farone, a Cravath spokeswoman, confirmed Barshay’s resignation.

Broader Shift

Partners rarely leave Cravath. Sarkis Jebejian left the firm in 2012 for Kirkland & Ellis, a year after James Woolery left to co-head JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s M&A practice for North America. Woolery recently helped start an investment fund called Hudson Executive Capital LP. Alisa Levin, a legal recruiter in New York City who is familiar with both firms, said that she views Barshay’s move as a sign of a broader shift in the market.
 
“Partnerships are not what they used to be,” when everything was about the firm, Levin said. “I think where we’re going, it’s much more about the individual.”

Barshay joined Cravath as a first-year associate in 1991 out of Columbia Law School. He was named partner in 1998.

(Read more on Barshay’s job switch at Big Law Business.)

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