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Revolving doors: Kirkland picks up Freshfields private equity stars again as seven partners depart pre-IPO Mishcon

With echoes of David Higgins’ landmark $10m switch in 2017 , Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has lost two up-and-coming private equity rising stars to US rival Kirkland & Ellis.

Freshfields lifer Vincent Bergin, who was made partner last year, arrives at Kirkland with an impressive back catalogue of clients, including private equity shops EQT ) and CVC Capital Partners. The other hire is Keir MacLennan – promoted in 2019, MacLennan specialises in high-profile and complex mergers and acquisitions, carve-outs, take-privates and exits for both financial sponsors and corporates.

The transfer will do little to disquiet the much-publicised narrative of US firms encroaching on London-bred talent. However a Freshfields statement read: ‘Our business continues to grow at pace and we remain well placed to continue providing our clients with the best service, led by a strong group of private equity partners and a talented pipeline of future partners.’

Typifying a watershed week for private equity recruitment, White & Case made a similarly ambitious set of hires, bringing in two of its former partners back from Dechert in London. Ross Allardice and Mark Evans both return to White & Case after leaving for Dechert in 2016 and 2017 respectively, while senior associate Tony Brown will be promoted to partner via the switch.

The triple arrival will go some way to plug the hole left by the unexpected departure of high-profile private equity head Ian Bagshaw earlier this year. Oliver Brettle, partner and member of White & Case’s executive committee, said: ‘The private equity industry continues to be a strategic priority for the firm and the addition of three high-calibre partners sends a clear message to the market that we are committed to continuing to grow our London and EMEA private equity practice.’

White & Case has also expanded its global capital markets practice this week, hiring Evgeny Scirtò Ostrovskiy as a partner from Kirkland in London. Ostrovskiy has more than a decade of experience in advising issuers, sponsors and investment banks on a range of matters, including high-yield debt offerings, restructurings and private placements.

Meanwhile, Mishcon de Reya has continued its uncharacteristic trend of shedding disputes partners ahead of its planned IPO, as seven senior lawyers decamped to Greenberg Traurig in London. Joining as shareholders (partner equivalents) are Kathryn Garbett, Jo Rickards, Claire Broadbelt, Annabel Thomas, Martin Shobbrook, Hannah Blom-Cooper and Matt Hancock.

Garbett was a divisional head at Mishcon, where she oversaw the firm’s fraud defence and business disputes, white collar and investigations and tax disputes and investigations groups. Rickards headed the white-collar department, while Broadbelt ran the fraud defence group, which featured Thomas, Shobbrook and Blom-Cooper. Hancock was a contentious regulatory specialist in the finance and banking disputes group.

Just last year, Mishcon lost disputes partners Mohammed Khamisa QC and Masoud Zabeti to Greenburg, as well as arbitration specialist Ben Giaretta to Fox Williams and commercial litigator Genevieve Quierin to Stephenson Harwood.

Richard Rosenbaum, executive chairman of Greenberg, noted: ‘Our addition of these superb lawyers will bring the number of London lawyers added during the pandemic to about 50 and our litigation practice here to almost one-third of the office.’

Continuing the disputes theme, Ashurst has added a senior contentious financial services partner in the form of Nathan Willmott, who joins from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP). At BCLP, Willmott was a leading figure in the firm’s European litigation and investigations practice as well as co-head of the banking sector group. He specialises in internal investigations and managing regulatory issues, in addition to related litigation.

Tom Connor, head of dispute resolution for EMEA at Ashurst, described Willmott as ‘one of the leading contentious regulatory lawyers in the City’.

Eversheds Sutherland announced two significant partner additions this week, with corporate partner Eda Demirel and energy partner Andrew Duckworth joining the firm.

Demirel, who joins from DLA Piper, has worked with multiple global organisations on their strategic reoganisations over a 20-year career. Duckworth is an in-house appointment, joining from Chevron Products Company. He was previously a senior counsel in the supply and trading business unit, and he has more than 13 years’ experience in the energy and commodities sector.

Kingsley Napley has bolstered its property litigation capabilities, hiring partner Claire Lamkin from Blake Morgan. She is experienced in the full breadth of property litigation, including disputes arising from rights to light, development agreements, tenancy deposits and restrictive covenants.

She becomes the sixth partner in Kingsley Napley’s real estate and construction practice. Lamkin said of her move: ‘Kingsley Napley’s real estate and construction team handles a broad range of commercial and prime residential matters and has an excellent reputation. I am really excited to be joining at a time when real estate is a strategic growth area for the firm and I believe my background and skills will be highly complementary to others in the team and the wider firm.’

Hogan Lovells has built on the opening of its Dublin hub in March this year, by appointing financial regulatory partner Eoin O’Connor to head the new office. O’Connor, who joins from Walkers, will work closely with antitrust and competition partner Christopher Hutton to build Hogan Lovells’ presence in Ireland.

Alice Valder Curran, head of Hogan Lovells’ global regulatory and IPMT practice said: ‘The regulatory and economic landscape is rapidly evolving and increasingly complex. Eoin’s wealth of experience will help clients with operations in Ireland and elsewhere approach it not as an obstacle, but as a source of opportunity.’

In Brussels, Steptoe has created a new practice after picking up two international trade partners from Jones Day. Renato Antonini and Eva Monard are the arriving partners, and they will be supported by two Jones Day associates who are also making the switch.

Antonini has handled some of largest trade defence investigations in the EU, representing governments and large corporations in the steel, chemical, energy and financial services industries. Monard has assisted clients in more than 80 anti-dumping, anti-subsidy, and safeguard investigations in various jurisdictions, and obtained various annulments of trade measures before EU courts.

Steptoe chair Phil West commented: ‘Renato and Eva are well regarded in the international trade arena and in the Brussels market. Bringing them on board will strengthen our trade capabilities at a time when issues involving international trade and the supply chain are at the top of the agenda for our clients around the globe, and when the EU is at the leading edge of climate change regulation.’

Finally, CMS has expanded in Poland with the hire of real estate partner Michał Mieciński, who joins from Linklaters. Mieciński is a seasoned lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience advising on real estate transactions in both Poland and central and eastern Europe, and he will be tasked with building out CMS’ transactional real estate capabilities.