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Reed Smith bolsters City energy practice with further hire from McDermott

Reed Smith has made a further lateral hire to bolster its City offering, as Prajakt Samant becomes the second energy partner in just over a year to join from McDermott Will & Emery, joining as a partner in the top 30 Global 100 firm’s energy and natural resources group in London.

Samant’s practice focuses primarily on commodity and energy related transactions and regulatory matters, and his arrival ties in with the 1,555-lawyer firm’s stated aim of growing its client base in the energy sector. He joins Reed Smith tomorrow (15 July) after six years as a partner at McDermott, following in the footsteps of energy and natural resources partner Rashpaul Bahia, who joined Reed Smith from McDermott last April.

Other recent City hires in the past few months include Pinsent Masons real estate finance partner Matthew Heaton and Travers Smith leverage finance partner Ben Davis.

Samant will be joined by two McDermott associates – Thomas Morgan and Simone Goligorsky. Morgan has spent time of secondment with German electricity distributor RWE and previously spent a five-year stint as legal counsel at US investment bank Merrill Lynch, while Goligorsky was seconded to JP Morgan for a year in 2010.

Samant’s switch takes Reed Smith’s City energy and natural resources group up to 21 partners, a sharp rise on the four partners it housed in 2007, when it entered the capital via a merger with Richards Butler. Samant’s move follows the arrivals of Claude Brown and Peter Zaman from Clifford Chance and the triple hire of Chris Borg, Brett Hillis and Jonathan Solomon from Dentons over the last two years.

The US firm launched in energy hubs Singapore and Houston last year and the latter has experienced rapid growth, having built up to a team of 40 lawyers. As part of the firm’s plan to expand its capability in the upstream sector of the market, transactional partner Gary Johnson joined the firm from energy boutique Burleson in Houston last month.

Kyri Evagora, chair of Reed Smith’s global energy and natural resources group, told Legal Business: ‘Infrastructure investment supporting the industry, such as terminals, LNG facilities, power stations and wind farms, appear to be a growth area for us. Anticipating that market trend we have a number of partners – in EMEA and in the US – who are a part of our projects and infrastructure team and who are very busy at present.

We want to enhance our practice in the global exploration and production area. We already have strength in the US in this space, given the explosion in activity over the past ten years in shale oil and gas production. We have also recently hired Gary Johnson into our Houston office, who is a market leader in oil and gas. We will continue expanding in the direction our clients’ needs require us to and that means we will continue to expand with lateral hiring in London.’