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Revolving doors: Losses for Shearman as City elite target investigations

Globally speaking, it has been a tough week for Shearman & Sterling, which lost several partners amid rumours of merger negotiations with Hogan Lovells. King & Spalding took two partners; M&A-focused Thomas Philippe joined in Paris, while project development expert Dan Feldman arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Gibson Dunn brought in three partners from Shearman, as it announced a new office in Abu Dhabi. Legal 500 Hall of Famer Renad Younes was a headline arrival, having served as global head of finance and managing partner for the Middle East at her previous firm. Samuel Ogunlaja will also form part of the new office and focuses on project development and finance in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Jade Chu has joined the Dubai office.

It was also a busy week for City lateral hiring, with investigations a key area of focus alongside finance, private credit and disputes.

CMS was one of the firms to target investigations as Robert Dedman joined in London as a partner. Formerly at King & Spalding, Dedman has also worked the Financial Services Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, where he was head of enforcement. His practice includes acting for banks, insurers and asset managers on investigations and compliance issues.

Financial services was also an area of focus for Fladgate, which hired Douglas Cherry as a partner from Reed Smith. A specialist in regulatory matters, Cherry advises regulated institutions on a range of compliance issues and investigations.

It was a similar story at Dentons, which added Rebecca Dix to its City regulatory and investigations team. Joining as a counsel, Dix has returned to private practice after five years at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), where she worked on many of the most significant investigations of recent years. A particular highlight was the record-breaking deferred prosecution agreement against a European multinational aerospace company, under the terms of which €991m was paid to the UK.

Dix told Legal Business: ‘I came over to the SFO on a secondment from a law firm, so I had originally planned to only be there for one year. At that time we were working on the GSK investigation, and it was just such great experience that I left the law firm and stayed and worked as a prosecutor. It was really a matter of when I came back to private practice. The SFO got four years out of me more than I was expected to do anyway!’

Dentons has also strengthened its transactions practice, with James Vernon joining as a partner in its M&A group. Focusing on cross-border M&A and private equity in the mid-market, Vernon joins from Eversheds Sutherland, where he was a legal director.

Private credit was Reed Smith’s focus this week, as Linn Mayhew joined as a partner in London. Part of the financial industry group, Mayhew specialises in private credit, leveraged and acquisition finance, real estate finance, fund finance and restructuring. She joined from McGuireWoods having also worked at DLA Piper, Simpson Thacher and Gibson Dunn.

Meanwhile, former BCLP partner Peter Knust joined Fieldfisher’s financial markets and products practice in London. A specialist in structured finance, Knust assists corporate trust and corporate service providers with the origination of finance transactions, as well as restructurings and contentious issues.

Speaking to Legal Business, Alex Campbell, a partner in the structured finance and derivatives group at Fieldfisher, said: ‘It’s been a long-term strategic plan. The structured finance practice, and in particular the issuer and corporate trust practice, has had a very good run over the last few years, and we are continuing to expand and grow the team. We see it as a key practice and a key focus for the firm. We wanted to make sure that we recruited the right person in terms of the practice they had, but also in terms of their personality fit and professionalism. We were delighted that Peter wanted to come and join us.’

Knust added: ‘I was looking for people I know or that I would get along with from day one on a personal level and also a focus on this area by partners already at the firm and an associate base that I can add to, rather than starting again afresh at a new firm. It was also important that, at the senior level, structured finance and issuer and trustee work in particular was a known, recognised focus.’

BCLP also lost a partner from its litigation group, as Sarah McAtominey joined Goodwin in London. Ranked as a Next Generation Partner by The Legal 500, McAtominey has represented clients from the financial services, technology and hospitality sectors. Shareholder disputes and litigation relating to M&A transactions are among her specialisms.

Finally, K&L Gates has become the latest firm to set up shop in Dublin. The new office will initially have an investment funds focus, following the hiring of Gayle Bowen, Shane Geraghty, and Michelle Lloyd as founding partners. Bowen joined from Pinsent Masons where she led the Dublin office; Geraghty arrived from Dillon Eustace; and Lloyd most recently practiced with Maples & Calder where she led the European funds team from Hong Kong.

Managing partner for Europe and the Middle East Tony Griffiths told Legal Business: ‘The business case, driven by client demand, for launching in Dublin has existed for some time. We had looked at the market a few times over the recent years but were not able to find people with the right cultural and business fit. Our launch in Luxembourg helped enormously to demonstrate both our commitment to the global funds industry and determination to service funds clients in all the leading funds orientated jurisdictions and through that attract the quality lawyers that we had been looking for all along.’