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Revolving doors: lateral hire season back with gusto as raft of senior moves announced

The first week of August saw the lateral recruitment market resume in earnest, with a bumper spate of partner hires unveiled.

Unsurprisingly the majority of acquisitions were made in corporate, with the deal market showing real signs of improvement . Herbert Smith Freehills led the way in the City with the addition of Kirkland & Ellis partner David D’Souza, a well-known private equity specialist who has regularly advised sponsors such as BC Partners, Blackstone and Permira.

Stephen Wilkinson, joint managing partner of HSF’s global corporate practice, commented: ‘Private equity is an important area for the firm and David’s appointment will bolster our offering to clients in this sophisticated market. David has strong relationships with PE houses and financial sponsors. His experience and expertise will complement the excellent work our PE team has been doing, and further strengthen our capabilities in private equity across different sectors. This strategic hire reflects the increasing client demand and opportunities in private equity, and our commitment to investing in our global corporate practice.’

DLA Piper also made a City PE move of its own, adding Piero Carbone as a partner in its corporate practice from McDermott Will & Emery, where he has been a partner since 2016, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has made a rare London hire to its renowned PE practice, bringing across ‘rising star’ partner James Howe from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

‘Given his experience advising many of the most sophisticated private equity sponsors on a wide range of high-profile transactions, James is a perfect fit for the firm,’ said Jason Glover, managing partner of the London office. ‘His dealmaking prowess further bolsters our existing top-notch global private equity mergers and acquisitions capabilities, adding further depth to our extraordinarily talented bench of lawyers in London.’

Elsewhere, Linklaters has made another significant play in Manhattan, this time recruiting special counsel Brad Caswell from the highly regarded funds specialist Schulte Roth & Zabel. Caswell’s hire is a boon to the UK firm’s investment funds practice in New York, as he brings over a decade of in-house experience, having served as general counsel and chief compliance officer of a large private fund manager in Hong Kong and the US and as counsel at Goldman Sachs. His hire follows that of Jason Behrens and David Miller from Schulte a year ago.

Tom Shropshire, head of Linklaters’ US practice, said: ‘Now more than ever clients need trusted counsel to provide advice and solutions to their most complicated problems. Brad’s practical experience, commercial sensibilities and ability to advise on the ever-changing regulatory landscape in the US will allow us to continue to deliver high-quality advice.’

K&L Gates has bolstered its corporate practice as well, this time in Hong Kong, adding the trio of Sook Young Yeu, Scott Peterman, and William Ho as partners to its integrated funds and private equity practices. They join from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe – where Yeu served as administrative partner of the Hong Kong office for the past 15 years – which announced earlier this year that it would be winding down its operation by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, there have been hires of contentious specialists too, not least the move by disputes powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to recruit barrister and solicitor advocate Justin Michaelson from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in London, where he was a partner. Over the past decade, Michaelson has advised on a number of freezing injunction cases including VTB v Nutritek, which went to the Supreme Court and became the leading authority on piercing the corporate veil and Sberbank v OJSC International Bank of Azerbaijan, representing Sberbank in an action seeking to avoid the impact of a foreign insolvency process which went to the Court of Appeal.

Michaelson said, ‘My clients want a strong litigation brand, that offers conflict-free representation and a greater flexibility to go adverse to banks and financial institutions. For the international disputes market here in London, Quinn Emanuel is ahead of the game.’

Meanwhile Katten Muchin Rosenman has sought to bolster its London insolvency offering with the hire of experienced Charles Russell Speechlys partner Prav Reddy and there is little doubt why the New York firm has made the move, given the current climate. ‘We expect the insolvency and restructuring market to be particularly active over the next few years,’ said Peter Sugden, London managing partner.

Watson Farley & Williams has also hired disputes specialist Marcus Dodds as a partner in London. He was previously a partner at Reed Smith, where he was co-head of its LNG and offshore groups. An experienced litigator and former ship’s captain with over 30 years’ experience in the maritime sector, Dodds has a broad practice spanning dry-shipping, offshore and admiralty matters.

And DLA also announced the appointment of Jane Childs to its specialist insurance and reinsurance disputes team in London. She will head up a newly created international team of specialists focused on financial lines insurance disputes and joins in October from Mayer Brown, where she has been a partner for 14 years.

Finally, by far the largest group of hires of the latest batch has been made by listed LB100 firm Keystone Law, showing the attractiveness of the alternative law firm model to recruits from conventional practices in the current climate. Keystone last week announced the hire of 15 new partners, 10 of which were lateral moves and are:

Henry Kikoyo (restructuring and insolvency, from Brown Rudnick)

Jeremy Davis (corporate, from McGuireWoods)

Jamie Horner (sports and entertainment, from Ashfords)

Simon Chalkley (IP, from Wiggin)

Terrence Trainor (family, from Vardags)

David Bennett (corporate, from Druces)

Rachel Lemon (family, from Mundays)

Paul-Michael Rebus (corporate, from Borden Ladner Gervais)

Chris Bannister (corporate finance, from Greenwoods GRM)

Sally Pilott (commercial property, from DMT Legal.

James Knight, CEO and founder of Keystone Law, said: ‘Highly experienced lawyers continue to be attracted to the flexibility and freedom our firm can provide, as our latest hires demonstrate. Now that many lawyers have been working remotely during lockdown, the appetite for an alternative to the traditional law firm model is stronger than ever.’