The move comes not seven months after buyout star David Higgins exited for Kirkland & Ellis despite the Magic Circle firm overhauling its partnership model in a bid to keep its top performers.
Similarly, Freshfields broke its lockstep to lure McKimm from US rival Kirkland & Ellis in 2015, a move which exercised changes to the partnership ushered in the previous year to attract top US talent.
McKimm is returning to Shearman’s capital markets practice where he worked before Kirkland for 14 years, becoming partner in 2005 and co-head of its corporate group in 2010.
Shearman has had a high-yield specialist-sized hole since McKimm’s former colleague and head of European capital markets, Apostolos Gkoutzinis, quit after 13 years to join Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy earlier this year.
David Dixter, head of Shearman’s European capital markets practice, said: ‘Clients continue to turn to us to help them navigate the most complex and innovative transactions, and Ward will be a major asset in providing our clients with a top of market legal service.’
McKimm added: ‘I am pleased to be re-joining such a vibrant and successful team. The capital markets and leveraged finance team at Shearman & Sterling has always been one of the best in the market.’