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Revolving doors: Restructuring veteran Ereira leaves Paul Hastings for Quinn as firms build up funds practices

Quinn Emanuel made a significant move in London this week, hiring restructuring veteran David Ereira from Paul Hastings. In the Legal 500 Hall of Fame for corporate restructuring and insolvency, Ereira has a wealth of experience advising clients from governments to debtors, creditors, and investors on a wide range of insolvency and restructuring issues.

Ereira’s practice at Paul Hastings included non-contentious work, and this makes him a somewhat uncharacteristic hire for disputes-focused Quinn.

London senior partner Richard East was keen to downplay any suggestion that the move marks a ‘radical shift’ for the firm: ‘We’ve been in insolvency and restructuring for as long as I’ve been at Quinn’, he told Legal Business. ‘We’ll slightly extend the sort of work we do in that field, but not by much. David does do some transactional work, but much of that is distressed transactions. His practice is very aligned already with ours, and I don’t see any problem with him continuing to do transactional work within the context of Quinn Emanuel.’

Meanwhile, one of Ereira’s former firms, Freshfields, was one of several building up in funds this week, bringing over Akin Gump partner Mary Lavelle as global co-head of the private funds and secondaries (PFS) group alongside New York-based Tim Clark, who joined from Goodwin last July.

A partner at Akin since 2019, Lavelle is recognised as a next-generation partner in the Legal 500 for private funds, and has broad experience across fund formation and asset management, including in secondary transactions.

Elsewhere, funds partner John Anderson has left Debevoise for Goodwin. Anderson has experience advising clients around the globe on a range of regulatory, tax, financing, and other issues.

Anderson explained the motivation behind his move: ‘There are only a number of firms that tick all the right boxes. You need an outstanding private funds formation practice to begin with; you need tax and regulatory support on a global basis; and, particularly for credit funds, you need a strong finance practice. Goodwin gets a check on all of those.’

Private investment funds co-chair Michael Halford commented on the firm’s strategy: ‘We already have a very strong fund formation team in London but we’ve wanted to increase our coverage in a couple of areas for some time, and credit funds has been one of them. We’ve also focused on secondaries, where we were fortunate to hire Jacqueline Eaves from Kirkland last year. Hiring John gives us the chance to really build on the credit side.’

While he noted a challenging macroeconomic environment, Anderson was optimistic about the future of credit funds work: ‘No one can ever perfectly predict the future. But if you believe that things will settle down enough that people can get back to business – not to rampant growth, but to a reasonable level of deployment of all the dry powder that’s out there right now. If you believe that, then that will mean a very reasonable amount of fund formation work in 2024-25.’

Also active in funds is Squire Patton Boggs, which has hired David Nisbet into its London tax strategy & benefits practice group from Osborne Clarke, where he made partner in 2018 and served as private equity tax team head. Nisbet has a broad practice advising clients from ultra-high net worth individuals to funds and corporates on a host of tax issues, and his hire sees the firm continue to invest in the London funds practice it launched with its June 2021 hire of current Europe investment funds team lead Steven Ward.

‘We see this as a critical part of our growth both in the transactional practices generally and in private equity and fund-related work’, said Cleveland-based tax strategy and benefits practice lead Mitch Thompson. ‘The transactions we work on demand really sophisticated tax expertise, and David brings that coupled with a skillset that is especially key to private equity transactions and fund formation.’

Nisbet focused on Squire’s international reach as a motivator for his move: ‘The transactions I’m advising funds clients on are increasingly international in focus. Both due to asset prices in the UK and the competition for prized assets in the private equity market more generally, a lot of traditionally UK-focused funds in the mid-market are now looking overseas. One of the attractions of Squire is the firm’s global presence, both in the key financial hubs in Europe and across the Atlantic. It’s particularly attractive to clients to have their cross-border legal and tax advice provided under the one roof.’

Manchester-based UK and Europe tax lead Patrick Ford, meanwhile, pointed to the state of the wider market as a reason behind the firm’s investment in both tax and PE work more generally. ‘It’s not quite the boom we had in 2021 and early 2022’, he said. ‘That was about as busy as it gets and virtually everyone was busy. It’s different now. There’s still a lot out there, but it’s for firms who can prove they can do the job well, rather than just everyone being busy. I’m happy to say we have a strong pipeline.’

Ashurst, meanwhile, has brought Akin partner Gavin Weir in as UK head of financial institutions M&A. A Legal 500 leading individual in upper-mid-market and premium deals, Weir comes to the firm with broad experience in domestic and cross border mergers, acquisitions, and finance.

‘We continue to experience strong demand for our services in the financial services sector’, said Jason Radford, Ashurst’s global co-head of corporate. ‘We’ve identified this sector as one where we can continue to grow.’

Radford also pointed to the firm’s hire of Clifford Chance corporate partner Stefan Bruder, who will join the Munich office with Norton Rose Fulbright ESG transactions specialist Marina Arntzen in February. ‘Gavin and Stefan’s arrivals are part of our long-term strategic growth plan for financial industry group M&A. While we have no imminent announcements to make, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are always looking for ways to expand our offering and to deliver more for our key clients.’

Also in London, BCLP has brought in Locke Lord energy co-heads Kevin Atkins and Matthew Daffurn to its energy, environment and infrastructure (EEI) practice group. At Locke Lord since 2016 and 2020, respectively, Atkins and Daffurn have experience advising clients on global project financing, project development, and corporate matters.

‘BCLP is a very attractive platform’, said Atkins. ‘Energy transition is an ever-larger part of our dealflow, from small-scale things like VC investment into clean tech to big-ticket projects. There’s a huge environmental and real estate element to a lot of these projects, and BCLP is very well placed for that.’

For EMEA head of EEI, Mark Richards, it is a particularly interesting time to build up in the infrastructure sector. ‘BlackRock’s acquisition of GIP is another signal that infrastructure as an asset class has arrived’, he told Legal Business. ‘Working with big developers lets us show private equity clients that we don’t just understand the sector but the assets too. Adding people like Kevin and Matt will just help the boat go faster. It’s a fantastic opportunity to build what’s already a growing business.’

The moves see Locke Lord’s London strength dwindle. The firm’s site now lists only two energy and infrastructure professionals in the office: Kieran Stone, who joined from Memery Crystal in November 2022, and Paul Neufeld, who splits his time between London and Houston.

Elsewhere Ben Eaton, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, has left the firm to become a tax partner at Mayer Brown. Eaton is also a member of the Law Society’s tax committee, and comes to Mayer Brown with a particular focus on the real estate sector, where he will advise on cross-border transactions and investment funds matters.

Morrison Foerster has brought former Deutsche Bank global head of sanctions advisory, Chloe Cina, into its national security practice. A qualified barrister, Cina worked at the Government Legal Department and Foreign and Commonwealth Office before moving to HSBC in 2016 and Deutsche Bank in 2018.

Pinsent Masons has expanded its London technology, media and telecoms team with the hires of Paul Hinton and Ed Baker from Deloitte Legal. Technology and data licensing transactions specialist Hinton and complex technology, data, and sourcing transactions partner Baker were both partners at tech boutique Kemp Little, which Deloitte acquired in February 2021. The hires see the firm continue to grow its TMT platform following its hires of cyber and data risk specialist Eleanor Ludlam from DAC Beachcroft in March 2023, tech litigator Emily Cox from Stewarts in October, and data protection specialist Jaya Handa, who returned to the firm after an in-house stint at Liberty Specialty Markets in July.

Taylor Wessing has announced that Lewis Silkin IP partner Giles Crown will join its London office in February, bringing expertise in a range of IP regulatory advisory matters, from data protection to marketing and reputation management.

Finally in London, Seddons and Burgess Mee were active in the family law space, with Seddons hiring JMW Solicitors partner David Thompson and Burgess Mee bringing Rachel Freeman over from Kingsley Napley.

Overseas, White & Case has launched a Johannesburg commercial litigation practice with its hire of Baker McKenzie Johannesburg disputes practice head Darryl Bernstein. Bernstein comes to the firm with experience in cross-border and domestic litigation and arbitration across a range of sectors, as well as in providing regulatory compliance advice to clients subject to investigation by regulators including the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.

In Melbourne, HFW has hired a four-lawyer team from Clyde & Co, led by partner Maurice Thompson. A litigator with particular experience in maritime law, Thompson co-founded HFW’s first Australian office in Melbourne in 2006 and returns to the firm with an established litigation funding practice.

Eversheds Sutherland has brought over a ten-lawyer team from KWM (China) into its Frankfurt office, including partners Daniel Ehret, Sandra Link, Hui Zhao, and Christian Ostermöller. All four will join the firm’s company commercial practice, and will double the number of partners in Eversheds’ Frankfurt office, which opened in January 2023, to eight. The move is part of the cooperation agreement that Eversheds and KWM signed in July last year, which saw KWM commit to closing its offices across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East by October 2024.