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Revolving doors: Magic Circle firms lose partners in New York and London as US firms strengthen London teams

Last week was a busy one for lateral hires, with a mix of City, regional and international firms announcing their newly acquired partners.

In New York, Allen & Overy  lost partner Greg Lavigne to Sidley, who joined its energy, transportation and infrastructure group.

Well known in the renewables, alternative energy, and energy transition markets, Lavigne advises private capital providers and sponsors across a range of transactions, encompassing tax equity, private equity, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, and structured finance. He also has expertise on deals involving recycling facilities, electric vehicles, distributed energy resources, and clean fuels.

Said Sidley’s New York office managing partner and executive committee member, Nancy Chung: ‘We are excited to expand our energy practice. Greg’s vast experience in structuring and negotiating project finance and tax equity investments is in high demand from leading strategic and financial investors in energy, and his addition will help us expand our footprint in this area even further.’

In London, Linklaters lost tax partner James Morgan to Kirkland & Ellis. Advising private equity sponsors and other alternative asset managers regarding tax and structural problems as a result of complicated corporate financings and transactions, Morgan has further expertise in corporate reorganisations, debt restructuring transactions, as well as credit-related transactions and funds.

Morgan’s career highlights include assisting LBG on its liability management exercise as part of the bank’s £21bn re-capitalisation in December 2009. This included the £8.5bn issue of the UK’s first tax-deductible contingent convertible notes.

Elsewhere, White & Case has bolstered its London M&A and private equity group with the acquisition of funds partner Emily Brown from Ropes & Gray. Advising fund sponsors across various facets of their operations, Brown has expertise in structuring, capital raising and fund operations, including private equity and real assets.

‘The funds industry is an international one and White & Case is a truly international platform which is rare in the US law firm world,’ Brown told Legal Business. ‘It is an excellent opportunity to build out the funds team in London to be at critical mass.’

Discussing the firm’s strategy, head of White & Case’s London private equity group, Richard Jones, said: ‘We made up four partners in London earlier this year in private equity, which is a strategic priority area for us, so we are in growth mode. We now have 15 mainstream private equity transactional partners so we are of a significant size and any lateral hiring will be done carefully and strategically rather than growth for growth’s sake.’

He added: ‘On the client front, it is worth noting that there are a lot of synergies between Emily’s clients and the firm’s existing client base. That’s why this move works so well.’

Meanwhile, BCLP has added two new partners, Vishal Mawkin and Russell Van Praagh to its London debt capital markets and corporate finance transactions groups respectively.

Formerly counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, Mawkin will focus on representing underwriters and issuers across both English and New York law governed cross-border debt financings in his new role at BCLP.

‘The firm is very keen to grow this practice area to complement its mid-market corporate finance offering, which makes strategic and commercial sense to do,’ explained Mawkin. ‘There are ongoing conversations with more laterals in the pipeline.’

He added: ‘We want longevity in the market to establish ourselves as a strong debt capital markets offering that will support our wider corporate finance offering globally. We have identified the investment opportunity in debt capital markets in a volatile period of the market and we are positioning ourselves for the next turn in the market now. Other firms aren’t doing this.’

Van Praagh will leave his current role as a partner at Osborne Clarke after nine years, bringing with him a practice that covers a wide range of sponsor-led and sell-side matters.

Leader of BCLP’s global corporate and finance transactions department, Carol Osborne, said of Van Praagh’s appointment: ‘His expertise, reputation, and extensive network in the PE sector will significantly enhance our presence and credibility in the market, contributing to our overarching goal of becoming the preferred firm for complex mid-market transactions.’

In the City, Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has acquired Emma Carter as a partner in its real estate team from Freshfields. Boasting more than 15 years of experience, Carter offers guidance to investors, developers, and banks across the commercial property investment cycle, from acquisition and management to disposal. She also oversees joint venture investments and financings across office, retail, and alternative segments of the real estate market.

Asked about the motivations behind her move, Carter responded: ‘CRS has one of the largest dedicated real estate teams in London and an impressive roster of clients. Not only will the firm benefit from the types of clients I represent and am bringing over, but that my clients can benefit from the wide multi-disciplinary offering that it can provide, especially where their needs stretch outside of just real estate.’

Arbitration specialist Will Hooker left litigation boutique Pallas Partners for Alston & Bird. In addition to his arbitration practice, Hooker was a core part of Pallas’s pro bono offering. He told Legal Business that pro bono work would make up about 10% of his practice at Alston, where his focus will be on building out the firm’s high-stakes commercial arbitration offering.

Finally, Pinsent Masons has announced that it had added Bryn Reynolds to its London office as a partner. Reynolds, who is a chartered accountant and tax adviser,  provides guidance to businesses regarding various VAT issues, such as disputes with HMRC, as well as alternative dispute resolution. His practice encompasses multiple sectors, with a strong emphasis on financial services and technology.

Reynolds joins the firm from Simmons & Simmons, where he served as a tax principal starting in 2018. Before that, he worked as a VAT specialist at accountancy firms KPMG and EY. He attained his qualifications as a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor in 2014.