Legal Business Blogs

Revolving doors: tech hires dominate a busy week in the lateral recruitment market

The past week has seen a number of interesting hires of senior technology specialists at leading firms, as well as the recruitment of former cabinet ministers as special advisers. 

Clifford Chance (CC) made a significant move, hiring a new partner to its tech group – part of the global corporate practice – in London. The firm has hired Simon Persoff from DLA Piper, where he acted as a senior consultant advising on data protection, privacy, cyber security and banking secrecy issues. He brings strong expertise in contentious data issues in addition to a wealth of experience in commercial, outsourcing and telecoms regulatory issues from over a decade in wider strategic management roles for several corporate enterprises, including Orange, where he was director of legal & regulatory, and Freeserve. 

CC’s tech group has advised on high profile, complex, global tech mandates since setting up in 2017, including supporting Telefónica on its £31bn joint venture with Liberty Global and advising HQLAᵡ and Deutsche Börse on their jointly-developed distributed ledger technology solution for frictionless collateral swaps in the securities lending market. 

Global head of corporate, Guy Norman said: ‘Simon brings a winning combination of solid experience operating at a senior level within corporate enterprises with a strong track record in delivering on highly complex mandates. His sector experience is perfectly aligned with our firm’s key strategic areas such as financial investors, life sciences and telecommunications.’ 

Meanwhile Stephenson Harwood, which has made a couple of noteworthy hires in recent weeks , made a key addition to its intellectual property practice, hiring Bird & Bird patent litigator Tim Harris. Harris, who like most prominent patent litigators obtained a first-class degree in chemistry from Oxford before qualifying as a lawyer, has extensive experience of high-level disputes and comes from one of the strongest patent disputes teams in the City. 

Alexandra Pygall, head of Stephenson Harwood’s cross-practice life sciences group and IP practice, said: ‘Adding a lawyer of Tim’s calibre, with heavyweight patent litigation experience, strengthens our existing capabilities. Our clients know us for having the expertise and strength in depth when dealing with large pieces of cross-border litigation and matters in the life sciences sector. Tim’s experience of leading patent actions across a number of jurisdictions, including in the life sciences sector, complements that.’ 

One of SH’s other recent hires came from Mishcon de Reya, which lost two disputes partners in the space of week. However, Mishcon struck back last week, hiring solicitor-advocate Mark Deem from Cooley’s London operation. A disputes specialist with experience at all court levels and arbitral institutions, Deem has represented several FTSE 100 clients on data breach issues, as well as global technology and telecoms companies on multi-million-pound contractual disputes. 

Meanwhile, two former Conservative MPs have joined City firms in the top 50 of the Legal Business 100 in the past week. Firstly, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Baroness Nicky Morgan, has joined Travers Smith as a consultant. The appointment marks a return for Morgan, who was a solicitor at Travers between 2002 and 2010, and her new role will see her work with Travers’ team focused on the technology sector. She has a long-standing experience working with the sector, supporting tech companies and start-ups and promoting the UK as a global technology leader. More specifically, in her role as Secretary of State she led on the UK Government policy on internet regulation, and oversaw the creation and communication of the Department’s digital and tech strategy providing a unified approach for tech companies, consumers and investors.  

Withers has hired former attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC as consultant global counsel. Cox QC will work closely with the firm to advise both its private and overseas government clients on international commercial litigation, fraud disputes, international arbitration (both investment treaty and commercial) and public international law matters. 

In addition to acting as a consultant for Withers, he remains MP for Torridge and West Devon and a privy counsellor and will continue to practise as a barrister at his chambers, Thomas More Chambers. He was called to the Bar in 1982, appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2003 and became attorney general in 2018, stepping down from that role in February 2020 to return to private practice. 

Elsewhere, Eversheds Sutherland has looked in-house to bolster its debt finance capabilities, hiring Ian Tetsill as its head of debt finance strategy. Tetsill an accomplished managing director and business leader with more than 25 years of banking and corporate finance experience, which has been gained at NatWest and Barclays. He has notable knowledge of the UK loan markets. 

Nick Swiss, head of banking, London, commented: ‘Ian’s skillset combines in-depth technical knowhow with impressive industry experience… His appointment will strengthen our position in an increasingly competitive market and complement the strategic direction in which we’ve chosen to head.’ 

Listed firm DWF has opted to launch a new operation in Southampton after hiring a 13-lawyer insurance team from another top-50 LB100 firm, Keoghs. The new team – which includes partners Rachel Coombs, Sarah Parker and Stuart Giddings – will specialise in catastrophic and serious injury work. DWF now has offices in 32 locations worldwide, including in 11 UK cities. 

However, DWF also saw some departures of its own last week in Brussels with its head of international trade, Vassilis Akritidis, joining Crowell & Moring in the Belgian capital. Akritidis has a broad trade practice, including experience in World Trade Organization law and proceedings, customs, and unfair trade litigation. He brings with him former DWF associate Lorenzo Di Masi, who has worked with him for the past two years on EU investigations, customs, and regulatory matters.