Legal Business Blogs

Revolving Doors: King & Spalding, Olswang and Sullivan & Cromwell in key partner hires

The past week saw a clutch of firms including Kennedys, Olswang, King & Spalding and Sullivan & Cromwell make key partner hires as US firms’ assault on the City continues apace.

King & Spalding launched its London trade practice on 20 May 2013 with the hire of Bird & Bird head of international trade and customs for Brussels and London, Iain MacVay, as the firm continues to expand its global trade offering.

MacVay, who has more than two decades experience advising on international trade matters, was one of the first to represent industries in World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement proceedings. His practice focuses on European and international regulatory law, particularly in representing the alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.

MacVay becomes the fifth partner to join King & Spalding’s London office since the start of 2012, bringing the total number to 14 and the number of fee-earners to 36.

The hire is in line with the firm’s ambition to double its City base to around 60-75 fee earners by the end of 2014. The firm plans to add partners to its energy, life sciences and dispute resolution practices.

London managing partner Garry Pegg said the firm needs to be bigger in London as competition from the other side of the pond increases: ‘There are around 80 US firms in London so we need to claim our stake and be bigger here. We are looking for individuals that have sector experience that crosses over, such corporate lawyers with energy experience.’

Last year, the firm recruited international disputes partners Sarah Walker and Jane Player – also from Bird & Bird, corporate rainmaker William Charnley from Mayer Brown and real estate head Nigel Heilpern from Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.

‘The London office has almost doubled the number of fee-earners during the last 18 months and the addition of an international trade practice in London is the latest step in our strategic expansion,’ said Pegg.

‘We look forward to the London office’s ongoing growth with the addition of more leading lawyers as we continue to broaden our London capabilities.’

If further evidence of US firms march on the City were needed, Sullivan & Cromwell took a significant step into UK work with the hire of Linklaters banking and restructuring partner Chris Howard. As reported by Legal Business on 23 May, the high-profile hire will be seen as a significant boost to Sullivan’s English practice in restructuring, distressed M&A and finance. Howard will advise international corporations, banks and financial sponsors on corporate restructurings and financings throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Meanwhile, 383-lawyer top 50 UK firm Olswang strengthened its pensions offering with the arrival of Ron Burgess, who joined from Lawrence Graham having previously worked at Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and on secondment at the Pensions Regulator.

Burgess advises corporates, trustees and insolvency practitioners on pension related matters including scheme funding, liability management and complex benefit design schemes.

Head of corporate Fabrizio Carpanini said: ‘Not only is Ron an excellent pensions lawyer, he also stands out for his experience at the pensions regulator, which means he understands how to navigate the intricacies of the system and find the best solutions for our clients.’

Elsewhere, Kennedys boosted its Manchester office with a double partner hire on 20 May, bringing the office head count to 48. Partner Claire Bushen joined from DAC Beachcroft along with the head of the sport and entertainment department at Freeth Cartwright, Simon Taylor.

Bushen is a professional indemnity expert with experience defending claims against professionals including accountants, insurance brokers, estate agents and solicitors.

Taylor, who was brought in to bolster the firm’s specialist sport, entertainment and insurance capability, brings with him solicitor Andrew Martin and trainee Nick Spearing.

‘We now have one of the largest professional indemnity teams in the UK and act for more than 50 insurers. To facilitate this growth it is crucial that we continue to grow our own people and make strong lateral hires,’ said senior partner Nick Thomas.

On the continent, a trio of Hogan Lovells Italian partners have left to join Ernst & Young. Gianroberto de Giovanni, Massimiliano Marinozzi and Paolo Ricci will join as partners of the Italian legal offering of the global audit firm in its Rome and Milan offices. Ricci will take over the leadership team in Italy, while de Giovanni and Marinozzi will head the corporate and dispute teams respectively.


To be included in our weekly roundup of high profile partner moves please send your announcements to