Legal Business Blogs

Revolving Doors: US firms take lead as lateral hire market emerges from hibernation

As the lateral recruitment market in the UK and Europe begins to reawaken, it is clear US firms have picked up where they left off, going in hard with key hires from Global 100 rivals.

New York banking heavyweight Cahill Gordon & Reindel has made the standout move of late, strengthening its nascent London finance practice with the hires of Jonathan Brownson and Jake Keaveny from Allen & Overy, who will be joining in September. 

Brownson was head of Allen & Overy’s much-vaunted leveraged finance practice and noted as heavyweight in our in-depth analysis of A&O’s finance practice two years ago. Keaveny is a high yield specialist and a partner in Allen & Overy’s capital markets group.

Cahill chairman, Bill Hartnett, commented: ‘Upon the arrival of Jonathan Brownson and Jake Keaveny, our UK and European finance practice representing financial institutions will be on par with our market leading practice in New York. This is the right moment for Cahill to expand its position in London, and we anticipate that our presence in the UK and European banking and capital markets will grow tremendously.’

The firm said that in the first half of 2020 it had the leading market share worldwide representing financial institutions with a 31% share of the high yield market and a 46% share of the leveraged lending market, according to Bloomberg.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has also boosted its structured finance practice with the hire of Matthew Duncan from Morgan Lewis’ City arm. He focuses largely on asset-backed securities, with an emphasis on consumer, real estate and fintech and his experience includes a number of ground-breaking transactions, including: the first UK post-crisis single issuer segregated multi-issuance residential mortgage backed securities program 2.0 and the first UK covered bond program.

‘A wider range of clients, from lenders to platforms, funds and fintechs, are using structured finance and securitisations to raise finance at lower investment grade pricing from a wider range of sources,’ Duncan said. ‘Furthermore, insurers, reinsurers, pension funds, asset managers, credit funds and others are using them to deploy capital and achieve yield at low risk, evidenced by investment grade ratings.’

Meanwhile, White & Case has expanded its international trade practice with the addition of Iain MacVay as a partner in London.

MacVay comes from King & Spalding and advises a range of clients including industry associations, companies and governments on international trade law and policy, especially the impact of Brexit and the future EU-UK relationship. He joined King & Spalding from Bird & Bird in 2013.

‘The redefinition of trading relationships caused by the UK’s departure from the EU is a significant issue for many White & Case clients,’ said Gregory Spak, head of the firm’s international trade practice.

Oliver Brettle, London-based member of White & Case’s global executive committee, added: ‘Iain is an important, high-quality addition to our London office who strengthens the Brexit support our clients already receive at a critical moment in the UK’s exit from the EU.’

In Germany, 41-year old corporate partner Kamyar Abrar will join Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Frankfurt office as a partner from Weil, Gotshal & Manges. He has advised private equity clients including Lone Star, GHO, EQT and Advent, as well as corporate clients such as copper producer Aurubis and building materials distributor Stark Group, on their transactions in Germany. In addition, he was head of Weil’s German antitrust group.

’Kamyar Abrar is one of the most prominent young corporate partners in the country,’ said Georg Linde, who leads Willkie’s Frankfurt office.

Finally, Pinsent Masons’ flexible lawyer service Vario has made a significant move on New Law rival Lawyers On Demand in Germany, hiring its leadership duo Carl Renner and Michael Zollner. The pair, who will co-head Vario in Germany, will join the firm in October from contract legal services business LOD where they launched and have led its German business since 2018.

The recruitment follows the expansion of Vario into Germany in December 2019 when Pinsent Masons acquired freelance legal services company Xenion Legal and its sister company, managed legal services business Xenia.

Managing director of Vario, Matthew Kay, said: ‘Following a period of rapid international expansion for Vario, building out the leadership team on the ground in Germany has been a key priority. Both Carl and Michael bring with them a wealth of private practice, in-house and alternative legal services experience which makes them an excellent fit.’