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Revolving Doors: Two Magic Circle firms reveal major US hires amid quieter week for City firms

Amid the typical August recruitment slowdown, one of the most notable moves of the past week saw Allen & Overy appoint Kfir Abutbul as the head of its energy private equity team in the US. Abutbul joins the firm from Paul Hastings, where he spent nearly five years as co-chair and vice-chair of its energy and infrastructure team, before which he was also a partner at Kirkland and Willkie Farr.

Chair of A&O’s US corporate practice, Bill Schwitter, said in a statement: ‘The addition of Kfir is an opportunity to continue the expansion of our US private equity and M&A practice.’

Kent Rowey, A&O’s US co-chair and partner of the firm’s projects, energy, natural resources and infrastructure practice, added: ‘Kfir is a key step in continuing our strategic US growth to better serve our global client base.’

Freshfields has appointed Gayle Klein as a new partner in its New York litigation practice. Boasting a wealth of expertise across the full gamut of commercial disputes, Klein also specialises in providing defence counsel against class actions at trial. She counts private equity firms, financial institutions, as well as private and public companies amongst her roster of clients. Klein has previously held positions as a partner at Weil and Schulte Roth & Zabel, as well as nearly 13 years as principal at McKool Smith.

‘Klein will expand the firm’s ability to serve our clients across the US and around the globe,’ said Freshfields’ US managing partner Sarah Solum in a statement.

Eric Bruce, the US head of Freshfields’ litigation practice added: ‘Her arrival immediately bolsters our team’s readiness for bet the company, strategically important US domestic litigation matters with current and new clients, particularly those in private capital.’

In London, Mishcon de Reya has announced the appointment of Liz Hunter to its partnership as a non-lawyer partner in the firm’s employment group, as part of the renumeration and incentives team. The former KPMG director of equity reward and tax has more than two-and-a-half decades of experience handling matters regarding equity reward and employee incentive plans. Hunter is also a member of the Employee Ownership Association community and the Quoted Companies Alliance Share Scheme Experts Group.

CMS has bolstered its London competition and trade team with the addition of new partner Neil Baylis from Mishcon. Baylis brings a wealth of knowhow in the automotive industry, as well as over two decades’ experience handling competition and regulatory matters for clients.

Baylis said: ‘I moved to CMS because of the excellent reputation of its competition team and the international network it offers. Also, the industry sectors where CMS is particularly strong are energy and climate change, which are relevant to a number of my clients, so the firm is a very good fit for me.’

Asked whether CMS will continue to expand its competition team, Baylis replied: ‘We have a very busy competition team so there is a need for expansion to meet the demand that is there and that is continuing to grow. The is no limit on how big we can get.’

Baylis shared his insight to the competition market: ‘We are seeing a more interventionist approach by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding mergers. It is harder to get deals through which is creating a lot more work for competition lawyers.’

Elsewhere in the City, Hill Dickinson has recently recruited new partner Amanda Burge from Hamlins, where she formerly held the position of head of dispute resolution. Burge boasts 25 years of experience handling commercial disputes and professional negligence cases.

‘I wanted to go to a quality firm with a fully supported bench strength, team and niche area of expertise across litigation services,’ explained Burge. ‘Hill Dickinson has a large team of quality lawyers with a number of specialisms and is striving forward on its ambitious growth plans for the commercial litigation disputes team in London. It is a busy time with a lot of commercial disputes out there, which is an area of growth for the firm’.

In addition to Burge, Hill Dickinson also added new partner Lemi McAuley to its Leeds office, strengthening the firm’s national restructuring and insolvency offering. McAuley has arrived at the firm from Shoosmiths’ Leeds practice, where he was a partner for three years.

An expert in board advisory and transactional issues, McAuley brings to the firm prior experience leading a corporate restructuring team, as well as handling both the contentious and non-contentious sides of corporate insolvency and restructuring. Previous examples of his work includes acting for the administrators (PwC) of BlueGroup, which involved the administration of 26 group companies and recovery of around 1000 jobs; and advising Interpath Advisory, the administrators of construction group Tolent and its subsidiaries.

In Germany, Jones Day added Michael Bartosch to its Munich corporate practice. With experience handling both domestic and cross-border corporate transactions, Bartosch arrives at Jones Day from Baker McKenzie, where he spent 17 years as a partner in the firm’s Munich practice.

Bartosch is sought after by clients from a range of sectors, including manufacturing, technology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and manufacturing. Examples of his previous mandates are representing refrigeration and air conditioning manufacturer, BITZER, on its purchase of OJ Electronics Group; advising automotive manufacturer, Kamax, on its acquisition of a majority stake in Galol Group; and assisting Evonik, a chemicals company, on the carve-out and sale of its methacrylate business to Advent International.