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Revolving doors: New Year moves at Eversheds, DLA Piper and HFW

Many City partners got the New Year started at new firms, with Eversheds, DLA Piper and Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) making key hires in the City.

Eversheds hired property partner Clare Whitaker from Clyde & Co as it expanded its City real estate practice in an effort to boost its offering within the hotel and leisure sector. Whitaker has been a partner at Clydes for the last two years, before which she worked at Reed Smith from 2006 to 2012 where she became a partner in 2007.

Whitaker’s experience includes negotiating hotel management agreements and involvement in time share and shared ownership projects. Some of her recent key deals include advising Compass Group on the £3.3bn disposal of hotel brands it acquired through the demerger of Granada Compass and acting for CVC Capital Partners on the £1.7bn successful bidding for the issued share capital of Debenhams. She also negotiated the lease of Microsoft’s central London office headquarters and represented Starwood Capital on its £200m refinancing of a portfolio of English and Scottish hotels.

Meanwhile, commodities lawyer Richard Usher moved from in-house to private practice after he joined DLA Piper as a partner in its City finance and projects practice. Usher has 18 years’ experience of working within the in-house community, most recently, Usher as legal counsel at Noble Group for six months and general counsel (GC) at BTG Pactual Commodities for eight months.

He has also been GC at Global Shipping and Trading for just over a year and a half, head of commodities at Legal EMEA from July 2006 to May 2012, and various other in-house roles prior to this. His experience comprises mainly of advising commodity trading houses and banks, including BTG Pactual, Mercuria Energy Trading and Morgan Stanley, and has particular experience in the oil and energy sector.

Head of DLA Piper’s finance and projects practice Charles Morrison said: ‘I am delighted that Richard is joining DLA Piper, bolstering our position in the market place within the commodities arena. He brings a huge amount of expertise to the team, and will add to the firm’s strength in emerging markets.’

The firm also expanded its trade and government relations practice with the hire of John Forrest, who was a senior civil servant and formerly a senior director at Dechert, as a partner and will lead the firm’s trade practice. Baroness of Vernham Dean Elizabeth Symons, who was the former general secretary of the FDA Trade Union and a Minister of State, and an existing consultant to DLA Piper, also joins the firm to lead the city government relations practice.

The hires comes on the back of growing demand for sanctions, and import and export controls advice, as well as an increase in clients’ needs for strategic government relations counsel. Symons joined at the beginning of the year, whereas Forrest will join the firm in March.

HFW also recruited in the City, but within its employment practice, with the hire of partner Neil Adams, who joins from US firm Edwards Wildman Palmer.

Adams leaves Edwards Wildman as the firm has seen a flurry of exits from its London office. He was at the US firm for ten years, since joining the legacy Kendall Freeman in 2000 before its tie-up with Edwards Angell to form Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in 2008. Before 2000, he was a partner at rival firm Trowers & Hamlins for two years. Adams will re-join fellow partners Richard Spiller and Ashwani Kochhar who joined HFW in 2011 from legacy firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.

Richard Spiller, head of the firm’s insurance and reinsurance practice said: ‘Having previously worked with Neil, I know that his experience of handling complex employment law issues in the insurance sector will add a valuable extra dimension to our existing capability.’

Adams advises on aspects of employment counselling and complex litigation for financial commodities and technology clients. He has experience of advising on both individual and team moves, breach of contract and duty, the enforcement of restrictive covenants and board disputes. His work also involves advising in relation to M&A and restructuring, litigation in the High Court and employment tribunals.