Newspaper article International New York Times

A Wall Street Rarity: Woman-Led Law Firm

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Wall Street Rarity: Woman-Led Law Firm

Article excerpt

Faiza J. Saeed's 25 years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore have included some of the most prominent corporate deals in recent history.

One of the biggest deal makers at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a pre- eminent law firm on Wall Street, is taking over its top spot -- and becoming the first woman to do so.

Cravath announced on Thursday that Faiza J. Saeed, one of the two leaders of its merger practice, will become the 16th presiding partner in the nearly two-century history of the law firm. Ms. Saeed's 25 years at the firm have been punctuated by some of the most prominent corporate deals in recent history.

"I'm very honored to take the role," she said in a telephone interview. "I think it's going to be a great opportunity to focus more on Cravath, both on our strategy and maintaining our excellence."

She is scheduled to assume the post, the highest at Cravath, on Jan. 1, first serving as deputy presiding partner through the end of the year. Ms. Saeed will take over from fellow corporate partner C. Allen Parker, who will return to advising clients full time after spending three years in the top role.

And she will be in very rarefied company.

Among the nation's 200 largest law firms in 2015, only three had women as managing partners, according to a study by the National Association of Women Lawyers.

The move is being made as Cravath -- which traces its lineage to William H. Seward, the secretary of state under Abraham Lincoln -- has continued to ride high among Wall Street's cadre of deal makers. It has never been one of the biggest law firms in the country, with just 471 lawyers in New York and London.

But it has long been involved in some of the biggest transactions, and is considered a leader in the legal field in matters like compensation. When Cravath raised its pay for first- year lawyers to $180,000, several of its peers followed suit.

The firm placed second in the ranking of legal advisers on mergers last year by Thomson Reuters, after Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with 97 announced transactions worth $926.5 billion under its belt.

For the first half of this year, Cravath ranked seventh, with 40 transactions worth $166. …

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