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‘An easy decision’: Sidley London private equity team lands at Goodwin 

Goodwin’s already eye-catching City office has pulled off another coup, attracting the storied Sidley Austin private equity team led by Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko.

Dahl and Iwasko, who joined Sidley from Kirkland & Ellis in 2016, were most recently co-leaders of Sidley’s private equity practice and co-heads of the European corporate and private equity group respectively.  

A surprise exit in June left the market speculating about where the pair would land next, with rumours of around 15 potential firms on the cards.

Dahl and Iwasko will join next Thursday (1 October), to be followed by three other partners – Sava Savov, Michelle Tong and John Van De North –when they finish their notice periods.

For Goodwin, this is the latest highlight for a City office that has seen consistent double-digit revenue growth in recent years, on the back of a sustained hiring spree.

Last year, the ever-expansive City arm saw turnover lift 11% to $74m, building on a 58% uptick to $66.8m the previous year.

On the back of a sustained hiring spree, London lawyer headcount grew 23% to 86 fee-earners from 69 the previous year, partly thanks to two notable hires for private equity – Carl Bradshaw from Kirkland last November and CMS private equity head James Grimwood in January.

Dahl has spent the past 20 years leading numerous high-profile, cross-border leveraged buyouts and financial restructurings on behalf of private equity clients and had been integral to the strategic build-out of Sidley’s private equity practice, along with Iwasko.

Iwasko acts for European and US funds on complex transactions including leveraged buyouts and restructurings. Savov was previously a principal at Oaktree Capital Management and focuses on life sciences, technology, real estate, financial services and energy, as well as complex restructurings.

Tong advises sponsors and portfolio companies and leads cross-border transactions, including in regulated industries such as healthcare and life sciences. Van De North focuses on private equity sponsors and other fund managers, especially identifying new managers and advising on the establishment of new pools of capital.

Dahl commented: ‘Goodwin’s global reputation as the go-to legal adviser for the private equity industry coupled with the firm’s focus on some of the most innovative and dynamic sectors of the economy made the decision to join an easy one. The momentum created by the firm’s growth and success across Europe and in the private equity sector makes this an extremely exciting proposition for us.’

‘We are thrilled to join a firm with such a strong team culture, a dynamic and ambitious management team, and a focused strategic vision built around private equity and other core practice areas,’ added Iwasko.

The firm now has more than 120 private equity lawyers across its London, Frankfurt, and Paris offices and opened a private investment funds-focused office in Luxembourg in 2019.

Richard Lever, London-based partner in Goodwin’s private equity practice, said: ‘We have worked across from Erik, Christian, Sava, Michelle, and John for many years and closely followed the impressive steps that they have taken in building a premier private equity practice. Their addition to the Goodwin private equity group will continue to build on this special value proposition for our clients in London, across Europe, and around the world.’

For more on Dahl and Iwasko’s time at Sidley, read ‘The Big Long – Inside Sidley’s daring attempt to relaunch as a private equity leader’ (£)