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Revolving Doors: Key hires for Mishcon, Penningtons Manches, DWF and TLT as NRF loses head of planning

With the blurring between criminal and civil law becoming ever more prominent, Mishcon de Reya announced last week that Alison Levitt QC, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of England and Wales, is to join the firm as a dispute resolution partner, as other firms to announce key hires over the past few days include TLT, DWF and BrookStreet des Roches.

Levitt, who oversaw Crown Prosecution Service’s decision-making and potential prosecutions in relation to the News of the World phone-hacking investigations, will join the LB100 top 40 firm in April, where she will concentrate on bribery and corruption, significant regulatory matters, private prosecutions and will offer high-level advocacy where necessary.

Head of dispute resolution, Kas Nouroozi said: ‘There are very few individuals in the English market who have worked at the highest level in public office and also have the experience of having operated in private practice. Alison’s depth and breadth of understanding of the working of the English criminal and regulatory system will prove invaluable to our clients. It is something that has worked to great effect in the United States and I believe will become more prevalent here in due course.’

Moving out of the City is Norton Rose Fulbright’s head of planning, Nigel Hewitson, who will leave the firm at the start of April for Oxfordshire-based commercial real estate boutique BrookStreet des Roches, which counts National Grid, MEPC, Lafarge Tarmac and Vodafone among its clients. Hewitson will establish and head up a new planning service at BrookStreet, which has long focused on the commercial real estate sector but, prior to Hewitson’s arrival, did not have a significant planning capability.

Before joining Norton Rose, Hewitson was head of planning at Howard Kennedy and served for several years as legal director at English Heritage. Recent notable cases of his include advising a consortium of Malaysian businesses on the acquisition and development of Battersea Power Station; advising on the planning aspects of Crest Nicholson’s 2013 Initial Public Offering on the Stock Exchange; and advising DP World on its development of the six berth London Gateway Port and its associated two square mile logistics park.

Managing partner at 20-partner BrookStreet des Roches, Hugh Blaza said: ‘Our clients have been telling us that they would like us to provide planning as well as our established services. We knew that, if we were to successfully establish such a planning service, we needed a highly-regarded individual with extensive experience across relevant sectors. Nigel ticks all the boxes. We are delighted he has decided to join us and we are very much looking forward to working with him.’

Hewitson said: ‘There is a very good business fit, which will enable me to compete effectively by bringing City quality at regional prices to a very price-sensitive market place. Equally importantly, there is a great personal fit. I share the view the firm holds that success is about more than doing good work: it’s also about enjoying working with your clients.’

Meanwhile, former Olswang restructuring and insolvency partner Séamas Gray has joined Penningtons Manches to develop the team following the firm’s merger of Penningtons and Manches last October.

Previously joint head of Pinsent Mason’s London restructuring practice, Gray has particular expertise in the healthcare, real estate, retail, leisure and pensions sectors, having set up the first dedicated pension restructuring team in the City in 2010.

Significant recent mandates include the restructurings of the Akari Group, a group of 39 care homes separating from the wider Bondcare Group; Ashpol Group, a property portfolio group with £130 million professional securities exchange listed debt; and Milton Keynes NHS Hospital Foundation Trust, a £285 million turnover, 3,000 employee hospital.

Franco Bosi, head of Penningtons Manches’ business services division, said: ‘His experience in complex restructurings as well as his considerable insolvency experience will fit perfectly and assist in the continued development of our established multi-disciplinary restructuring and insolvency team.’

Elsewhere, DWF has strengthened its financial services practice with banking partners Iain Shurwood and John Fox and real estate finance partner Simon Elphick, who join from Lawrence Graham.

Shurwood, who joined in February to head up DWF’s corporate banking team in London has experience in acquisition finance, corporate lending, restructuring and workouts, acting for major high street banks, borrowers and investors, while Elphick who also joined in February acts predominantly for lenders on financing and restructuring.

Fox, who is expected to join in April, has over 27 years’ experience acting for major banks and borrowers with a real estate focus.

Also in the City, TLT makes its fourth employment partner hire in six months with former head of employment at media and commercial law firm Michael Simkins, Mark McQuillan, whose practice focuses on retail & consumer goods and financial services, having

McQuillan, who was previously a partner at Addleshaw Goddard, advises listed companies, Fortune 500 companies and smaller owner-managed businesses on the full range of employment issues, with particular expertise in sensitive and high-value litigation, restructurings, outsourcings and employment change programmes.

Stuart McBride, partner and head of TLT’s employment, pensions & incentives group said: ‘Mark is a great fit for TLT. His arrival means we have true national coverage of employment expertise and a solid base in London. We’re very clear on our strategy to build on our market leading position in the south west, across the UK. Mark’s arrival is a significant step forward to achieving that.’