Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has reportedly poached on as many as nine partners from McDermott Will & Emery and dozens of associates are also expected to make the move in the coming days.

Cadwalader has plans to build a new Washington, D.C.-based energy and commodities practice group and Paul Pantano Jr., the co-head of the energy and commodities practice group at McDermott is expected to lead the group.

Pantano has experience in transactional, regulatory, legislative and litigation matters and has represented nearly all major players in the commodities and derivatives industry.

Meanwhile, Karen Dewis, Pantano's counterpart in McDermott's M&A practice group, will head Cadwalader's M&A practice group in Washington, according to a Cadwalader press release.

Dewis is experienced in representing clients on a wide range of corporate matters, with particular focus on M&A private equity investments, securities offerings, spinoffs, governance and compliance in a number of sectors including energy and commodities, financial services, real estate, industrials and healthcare.

Also expected to join are Doron Ezickson in London and Robert Stephens in Houston.

Ezickson has an extensive experience of the energy markets, including a wide range of European, US and Asia regulatory and compliance issues relating to the development and operation of wholesale energy, renewable energy and emissions markets, as well as related financial products.

Stephens focuses on transactions, and project finance related to the energy sector for a range of financial institutions, energy clients, and private investors.

Cadwalader's move is not surprising as regulatory practice groups are becoming hot because of increased scrutiny under the Obama administration.

The law firm had laid off hundreds of lawyers in 2008 and 2009 during the global economic recession but has bounced to emerge among the 10 most profitable law firms in the country.

According to The American Lawyer, in 2009 Cadwalader also ranked as one of the top 10 law firms that had profits per partner (PPP) of $2 million or more.