The most significant moves are not always to rival law firms as the exit of Weil Gotshal & Manges’ City private equity partner Samantha McGonigle to co-found a growth fund goes to show.
Perpetuating the busy start to the lateral market, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has added to its City finance practice as King & Spalding and Simmons & Simmons have hired in Europe at the expense of Ashurst and Allen & Overy respectively.
McGonigle last year emerged as one of the City’s most hotly tipped young private equity partners in Legal Business’ Alphas feature. Something of a right-hand woman to London managing partner Mike Francies, her departure after 13 years at Weil will be a heavy blow for the City office.
McGonigle, a confessed deal junkie who was a junior member of a Hogan Lovells team that transferred to Weil Gotshal in 2006 with Marco Compagnoni, had an enviable roster of repeat clients including Advent, Baring Private Equity, Oaktree Capital, Montagu Private Equity and HgCapital. She will join the growth fund as a founding partner.
A spokesperson from Weil said: ‘We are very happy for [McGonigle] as she makes this exciting next step and we look forward to working with her in her new role.’
Meanwhile, Fried Frank has bolstered its funds credentials with the hire of former Linklaters banking managing associate Kathryn Cecil as a partner to its City finance bench.
Cecil will work with the firm’s asset management practice, focusing on fund financing as well as leveraged and acquisition finance and restructurings and workouts.
The move comes hot on the heels of Fried Frank’s hire of leveraged finance partner Neil Caddy from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy last month and those of M&A and private equity partner Ian Lopez from Norton Rose Fulbright and corporate partner Ashar Qureshi, from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to head its EMEA global transactions late last year.
Mark Mifsud, managing partner of the London office, said: ‘[Cecil’s] experience in the fund finance space will greatly complement our private funds practice.
‘The London office has gained significant momentum over the past year in growing our bench in core firmwide practices.’
Elsewhere, Jens Gölz has joined Simmons & Simmons as a partner in its banking and finance team in Frankfurt, taking up his position last Friday (1 February).
Before that he was a counsel at Allen & Overy’s Frankfurt banking and finance office, specializing in the financial institution, energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors.
His hire supports the firm’s plans to grow financial institutions practice in Frankfurt and activities in the energy sector.
Bernulph von Crailshei, Germany’s country head, said: ‘[Gölz] is one of the upcoming expert lawyers in Germany combining banking and finance with the energy expertise.
‘He has worked on a number of impressive projects, including acting as legal advisor to the lenders on the first non-recourse financing of a conventional coal-fired power plant project in Germany and to ING on financing the Lakiakankas wind farm in Finland, which receives its revenues without any state subsidies solely on the basis of a corporate PPA.’
King & Spalding has added a three-lawyer Ashurst real estate team, led by partner Guillaume Aubatier, to its corporate, finance and investments practice in Paris.
Aubatier covers complex corporate real estate transaction involving large French and pan-European portfolios, asset management, construction and finance.
Vanessa Benichou, office managing partner in Paris, commented: ‘We now have more than 25 lawyers in Paris and we are targeting further growth in our transactional and disputes teams, including in M&A, finance and employment law.’
Finally, Stewarts has launched a media disputes practice in the City to be led by partners Patrick Dunaud and Ryan Dunleavy. Dunleavy joined the firm last month from DMG Media where he was group legal adviser.
The practice will handle media disputes in the UK and in Europe in intellectual property rights, privacy and defamation, breach of confidence, regulation and competition law.
John Cahill, managing partner of Stewarts, commented: ‘Today’s world is increasingly driven by content. Global entertainment and news businesses face an increasingly challenging environment. We are well placed to help them react swiftly to disruption and defend their legal rights.’