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Kirkland’s debt superstar Sachdev leads team exit as Paul Weiss launches English law practice

Debt finance rainmaker Neel Sachdev (pictured) has led a team defecting from Kirkland & Ellis to Paul Weiss, in what will be seen as a major coup for the Wall Street firm’s City ambitions.

The hire of Sachdev is arguably the most influential transfer in the City’s history since buyout star David Higgins left Freshfields for Kirkland in 2017. It is a serious show of intent for Paul Weiss in London, establishing as it does an English law offering for the first time.

Also moving to Paul Weiss with Sachdev are debt finance partner Kanesh Balasubramaniam and capital markets partners Matthew Merkle and Deirdre Jones.

Sachdev has spent two decades as one of the firm’s longest-serving London partners and top earners. With top-tier financial sponsor clients including Apollo, Bain Capital and Strategic Value Partners, his expertise lies in multi-jurisdictional leveraged buyouts and complex financing transactions across Europe, the US and Asia.

Legal Business understands that Paul Weiss will be hiring other senior lawyers in London over the next coming months.

‘We appreciate their contributions to the partnership and wish them the best at their new firm,’ said a spokesperson at Kirkland.

Paul Weiss has also hired a four-partner team from Kirkland in New York led by debt finance partner Eric Wedel and including Ben Steadman.

The London hires mean that Paul Weiss is following in the footsteps of Cravath, which in March hired Philip Stopford and Korey Fevzi from Shearman & Sterling, in establishing an English law capability.

The incoming four partners will be joining Paul Weiss’ existing three partners in London, as indicated on the firm’s website: David Carmona and Adam Wollstein, promoted to partnership in December 2018 and January 2021 respectively, along with David Lakhdhir, who co-founded the office in 2001 alongside Mark Bergman, who gas been serving as of counsel in Washington DC since 2021.

Less than two weeks ago, Kirkland also lost distinguished corporate partner Roger Johnson, who is recognised as a top individual for high-value private equity in The Legal 500. After more than seven years at Kirkland, Johnson left the firm after Kirkland’s management discovered that he was in discussions to take a team with him to a rival firm. Conversely the same week, Kirkland hired the well-respected private equity partner Alvaro Membrillera from Paul Weiss, where he was London managing partner.