Legal Business Blogs

Revolving doors: Capita appoints new legal chief as Clifford Chance lures back former PE star

In a major in-house move, professional services company Capita has appointed Claire Denton as its new chief general counsel and company secretary.

Denton joins from Aveva Group, where she has been group general counsel and company secretary since 2015. In her new position she will report directly to Capita’s chief executive, Jon Lewis, and will sit on the company’s executive committee.

Across her 20-year legal career, Denton has previously occupied in-house roles at Numerica Group, Interserve and Hughes Network Systems Europe. Lewis commented: ‘Her considerable skills and wide-ranging experience at a range of companies will be of great benefit to the organisation.’

Meanwhile Clifford Chance has recaptured partner Neil Evans, 11 years after he departed the firm as an associate to join Simpson Thacher. The private equity specialist, who has advised market heavyweights Blackstone, KKR and Bain Capital on a number of transactions, arrives from his most recent position as a partner at Mayer Brown.

Evans said of his return: ‘Returning to Clifford Chance feels like coming home. Having had a great start to my career at the firm, I am excited to be able to bring the benefit of my experiences in the wider industry back to work alongside familiar faces.’

Continuing the corporate theme, Weightmans has hired a trio of transactional lawyers as part of its latest recruitment drive. Headlining the hires is partner Louise Neave, who joins Weightmans’ Liverpool office from DLA Piper. She has experience in advising some of the UK’s best-known high street and challenger banks on consumer finance and financial services regulation. Alongside Neave, two junior solicitors will be added to the firm’s Manchester and London offices.

Reflecting on the hires, Sarah Walton, corporate partner at Weightmans, said: ‘It has been an incredibly busy time for the team over the past six months, with M&A activity surging. These appointments represent a significant investment in our corporate team across the country – we are committed to supporting our corporate clients throughout this exciting and challenging time for businesses, as they work to find new opportunities for growth as they build back post-pandemic.’

Mishcon de Reya has continued to restore its bench after some notable pre-IPO departures, impressively hiring Dentons’ former head of private equity for Africa, Angeli Arora.

Arora assists with a broad range of investment strategies around the world, including in Asia and Africa, covering special situations transactions and working with impact investors. Her experience in international markets is touted to improve Mishcon’s global reach and generate further opportunities for the firm.

Wilberforce Chambers has had a productive few weeks in terms of recruitment, with four established members joining the set since October. Firstly, former High Court judge Sir Paul Morgan joined Wilberforce as an arbitrator in October, before a spree of arrivals in the last couple of weeks.

Sri Carmichael and Jessica Brooke arrived from Gatehouse Chambers and Enterprise Chambers respectively, adding depth to Wilberforce’s capabilities in company and insolvency law, commercial litigation and civil fraud. Seasoned property and commercial chancery silk John McGhee QC then joined from Maitland Chambers on 12 November. Head of chambers Brian Green QC said: ‘John has an outstanding reputation as one of the leading property and commercial silks at the Chancery Bar, and his joining us adds yet further strength and depth to the excellent leaders and juniors practising in chambers in these fields.’

Taylor Wessing has expanded its disputes and investigations coverage in London through the hire of partner Richard Viegas, formerly head of commercial disputes at Collyer Bristow. Viegas has broad experience of commercial disputes covering data protection matters and in the pharma, tech, media, commodities, real estate and energy sectors. He is also noted for his experience in litigation funding, even acting for funders themselves.

Andrew Howell, international head of disputes and investigations for Taylor Wessing, commented: ‘Richard’s commercial approach complements our own, providing clients with market knowledge and specialist advice across many sectors and jurisdictions.’

Foot Anstey has welcomed a new IP, IT and data protection partner in the form of Ashley Avery, who arrives from Travers Smith. She will primarily be advising clients on complex data privacy and confidentiality issues, brand protection and exploitation and software development and licensing matters.

John Westwell, Foot Anstey managing partner, said: ‘She is an excellent example of the type of high-calibre lawyer that has powered our organic growth over the last ten years and has been attracted by our culture of support and empowerment for leaders with an ambition for growth.’

In a typically busy week for CMS, the firm has hired a new partner in Hong Kong as well as a ten-strong team in Poland. Financial restructuring specialist Kingsley Ong joins as a partner in Hong Kong having previously led Eversheds Sutherland’s debt capital markets, derivatives, structured finance, securitisation, restructuring and insolvency practices in Asia.

And in Poland, a trio of real estate partners have joined from Greenberg Traurig to continue CMS’s push in the region. Agata Jurek-Zbrojska, Małgorzata Madej-Balcerowska, and Dominik Rafałko are the inbound partners, and they will be joined by seven other lawyers, also from Greenberg Traurig.

It quickly follows the hire of real estate partner Michał Mieciński in November, and underscores the firm’s commitment to its real estate and construction practice. Andrzej Pośniak, CMS managing partner in Poland, stated: ‘Our goal is to create a team that will be the first-choice adviser in the real estate market in Poland.’

And in Paris, DAC Beachcroft has appointed litigation partner Alaxandre Gadot from insurance firm Delrue Boyer Gadot. Gadot is an expert with more than 16 years’ experience in industrial risks, construction, product liability and insurance.

Vladimir Rostan d’Ancezune, head of DAC Beachcroft’s Paris office, said: ‘The appointment of Alexandre, a major player in the sector, is integral to the continued growth of our practice in France.’