Property and construction lawyers are taking advantage of being back in vogue with a number of high profile moves in the sector this week including Ashurst partner Anthony Burnett-Scott’s move to Macfarlanes, Nabarro’s head of infrastructure Matthew Jones to Taylor Wessing and Wither’s hire of Fenwick Elliott real estate partner Julie Teal.
At Taylor Wessing, Jones will join the construction and engineering group, working closely with the firm’s real estate group, its planning, funds and tax teams and its banking group in relation to real estate acquisitions and development finance.
Acknowledged by the Legal 500 as offering ‘expert advice on construction and procurement issues,’ Jones advises on all aspects of construction including procurement, drafting and negotiation of building contracts, consultancy appointments, and dispute resolution.
The dual-qualified English-Australian lawyer advised Land Securities in its joint venture with Canary Wharf on the construction of the Walkie Talkie. His previous projects extend to jurisdictions including Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Romania, Barbados, Egypt, Turkey, Australia, Libya and Nigeria – a boost for Taylor Wessing as it seeks to extend its international reach outside of Europe.
On his appointment, Jones (pictured) said Taylor Wessing is a firm ‘both respected and admired for its quality and momentum’ adding: ‘I am enthusiastically looking forward to working with clients and colleagues in the UK, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere in Europe.
‘In our business it’s people that matter: the clients whom we advise, our colleagues we work together with and the professional community in which we operate. Those relationships – and the opportunity to provide intelligent and astute advice – help to define who we are. I am privileged then to have fond memories and friendships from my time at Nabarro and, looking ahead, will enjoy contributing to Taylor Wessing’s ongoing efforts and success.’
Laurence Cobb, head of construction & engineering at Taylor Wessing, said: ‘Matthew is extremely highly regarded in the construction and real estate community, and his hire is evidence of our commitment to those sectors.’
Elsewhere, third-tier commercial real estate firm Macfarlanes has notched up a third significant partner hire from from top 15 LB100 firm Ashurst, as the arrival of Burnett-Scott follows the hire of former head of construction Anne Minogue in the summer and former head of real estate, Ian Nisse, who joined in the autumn of 2011 and heads the commercial real estate team at Macfarlanes.
Having been a partner at Ashurst since 1999, Burnett-Scott’s clients include supermarket Morrisons and Qatari Diar, which appointed Ashurst to three of its real estate investment legal panels, with the firm providing advice on its construction, infrastructure and engineering projects.
This latest hire from Macfarlanes comes as the highly profitable independent UK firm departs from an almost singularly organic approach to growth, to using lateral hires to build its business in key areas.
The 312-lawyer firm posted a 12% rise in revenues to £114.2m for 2012/13 and a profit per equity partner figure of £985,000, up 9%.
On Burnett-Scott’s appointment, Nisse said: ‘Anthony is a highly experienced real estate partner with an excellent reputation and has advised on some of the most complex, high value real estate transactions in the UK.’
Senior partner Charles Martin, added: ‘Anthony represents an important step in the rebuilding of our commercial property team. The tremendous platform that Ian has built with our full support combines lateral and home-grown talent of the highest calibre. Our ambition is now to lay claim to, and firmly establish, a place at the top table for the most complex real estate projects in the UK, serving the leading players in the market.’
Meanwhile, leading construction firm Fenwick Elliott has lost former SJ Berwin real estate partner Julie Teal to private client firm Withers. Ranked second-tier in the Legal 500, Fenwick Elliott has already witnessed the exit of a number of partners, including Julian Critchlow who joined fellow City firm Payne Hicks Beach to help launch its new construction and energy practice this year. Elsewhere, disputes specialist David Robertson, a former lawyer at Baker & McKenzie, moved to Berwin Leighton Paisner in February, and arbitration expert Frederic Gillion joined Pinsent Masons’ Paris office.
Withers real estate practice group leader Paul Brecknell, said the team’s fee income grew by nearly 20% last year, having ‘experienced a significant growth in demand for construction-related advice, as investors and property owners look to maximise value with developments and improvements.’
Teal added: ‘I have worked with the Withers team for a number of years and have always been impressed by their commitment to achieving their clients’ objectives. The team works on very exciting commercial and residential projects and I look forward to bringing my experience to bear on these.’