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Restructuring star Sum makes quick exit from Sidley’s City practice to join Latham

Latham & Watkins has hired former Linklaters restructuring star Yen Sum just over a year after she joined Sidley Austin in one of the quickest turnarounds in London’s senior lateral recruitment market.

Sum is joining Latham alongside fellow finance partner Jennifer Brennan, another Linklaters alumni who had also followed her from the Magic Circle firm to Sidley just last year.

They will be the fifth and sixth partners in Latham’s City restructuring team, in a move the firm’s co-head of restructuring Simon Baskerville said was aimed at targeting funds and alternative asset managers.

One of the City’s more well-regarded finance counsel, Sidley recruited Sum in just November 2016. The firm pushed ahead with Sum’s recruitment when she was eight months pregnant, meaning she would be on maternity leave when she first joined: a rare commitment for a transferring partner.

Sum had joined Linklaters in 2002 and later spent three years in Barclay’s leveraged finance team, returning to the Magic Circle firm in 2008.

She emerged as one of the City’s top female deal lawyers in ‘Alphas’, Legal Business’ recent feature on standout women dealmakers. Speaking at the time of the feature, she described her time at Barclays as vital: ‘Being at the coalface on the business side helped shape my understanding of the evolution of buyouts and investment decision-making. It also helped to appreciate how advisers become part of the canvas.’

Sum rated her younger colleague Brennan highly, describing her as a ‘rising star of the restructuring and finance space’, adding: ‘I expect to see her feature ever more prominently in the next few years.’

Bakersville, who joined Latham in 2016 after 17 years at Ashurst, said: ‘Since I joined two years ago, we have been keen to continue building the practice, particularly continue building funds clients and alternative assets management’. He added that Sum and Brennan’s work in special situation lending ‘is going to be useful’: ‘We anticipate there will be a lot of restructuring work coming.’

The pair are the latest big name hires for Latham’s City outpost in the last few months. In May, the firm brought across Linklaters’ former Asia head of financial regulation Carl Fernandes.

For Sidley, the high profile losses come after two years of quick expansion in Europe. Most notably, the firm hired 13 partners from Kirkland & Ellis’ London and Munich offices in the space of a year between February 2016 and 2017.

The Chicago-bred firm this month appointed a new London managing partner, with corporate partner Thomas Thesing replacing Matthew Dening after four years. Finance co-head Dening had taken over from tax partner Drew Scott in July 2014.