Pak-American woman to lead seventh largest US law firm

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A Pakistani-American woman, Faiza J. Saeed, is poised to become the 16th presiding partner in the nearly two-century-old history of a renowned American law firm Messrs Cravath, Swaine & Moore with effect from January 1, 2017.

The 50-year-old Faiza is the daughter of a New York-based Pakistani immigrant family and has majored in Molecular Biology and Economics from the Berkley University. Among the 200 largest US law firms in 2015, only three had women as managing partners, according to a study by the National Association of Women Lawyers.

The firm placed second in Thomson Reuters’ ranking of legal advisers on mergers in 2015, after Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with 97 announced transactions worth $926.5 billion, while it was ranked seventh between January and June 2016 with 40 transactions worth $166.6 billion.

The New York Times has reported: “One of the biggest deal makers at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a pre-eminent law firm on Wall Street, is poised to take over its top spot — and become the first woman to do so. Cravath plans to announce on Thursday that Faiza J. Saeed, one of the two leaders of its mergers practice, will become the 16th presiding partner in the nearly two-century history of the law firm. Saeed’s 25 years at the firm have been punctuated by some of the most prominent corporate deals in recent history.”

Faiza was quoted as saying: “I’m honoured to take the role. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to focus more on Cravath, both on our strategy and maintaining our excellence.”

The esteemed American newspaper added: “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. She is scheduled to assume the post, the highest at Cravath, on Jan. 1, though she will first serve as deputy presiding partner through the end of the year. And she will be in very rarefied company. 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 Midtown Manhattan 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, as is the norm in the American law industry.”

The New York Times has gone on to write: “Saeed has been one of Cravath’s top rainmakers for years. She helped defend Time Warner against an unwanted takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch and advised on DreamWorks Animation’s nearly $4 billion sale to Comcast. Almost two decades ago, she helped advise Vivendi in its $34 billion takeover of Seagram. She advised Precision Castparts as it negotiated its $37 billion sale to Berkshire Hathaway, the biggest takeover by Warren E. Buffett. She is working on Yahoo’s efforts to sell itself, a process that may end in a multibillion-dollar sale as soon as next week.”

About Faiza’s profile and professional background, Bloomberg writes: “Faiza J. Saeed is a Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Saeed is Co-Head of Cravath’s Mergers and Acquisitions group. She joined Cravath in 1991 and became a partner in 1999. Saeed focuses her practice primarily on mergers and acquisitions, both domestic and cross-border, and on takeover defence and corporate governance matters. She is Member of the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the California State Bar Association. Saeed is a Visiting Committee Member at Harvard Law School and has been designated a Young Global Leader in 2006 by the World Economic Forum.”