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Revolving doors: White & Case, DLA Piper, A&O and K&L Gates strengthen offices abroad

Last week saw an array of international lateral moves with Global 100 firms White & Case, DLA Piper, Allen & Overy (A&O) and K&L Gates adding to their Frankfurt, New York, Dubai and Brisbane offices respectively.

In a bid to strengthen its presence in Europe’s strongest and largest economy, White & Case has hired A&O’s US corporate finance group head Gernot Wagner as a partner to its Frankfurt office. The move ‘ensures the firm continues to be closely aligned with the needs of our clients’ according to partner and regional section head, Markus Hauptmann.

Wagner’s client roster includes banks, private equity houses and major corporations on high yield offerings; and public and private debt and equity transactions. With the firm’s global capital markets practice housing more than 60 partners across 19 offices, practice leader Stuart Matty added that Gernot’s ‘arrival reflects our commitment to the continued development and strategic build out of our capital markets practice in Europe’.

In the US, DLA Piper made a respectable hire to its litigation practice with the addition of trial lawyer Savaria Harris, who has joined as a partner from Kirkland & Ellis and will practice in both the New York and Washington DC offices.

Experienced in complex commercial matters including mass tort, contract disputes, and federal investigations and enforcement actions, Harris is the most recent attempt by DLA to boost its New York office. In July it hired Seth Friedman, the former deputy general counsel of BDO USA and a fellow litigator, followed by A&O corporate partner Mark Roppel in early August.

‘Savaria is a talented and highly respected litigator,’ said Heidi Levine, co-managing partner of DLA’s New York office. ‘She will be a welcome addition to our litigation and white collar teams, and an asset to our clients in New York, DC, and nationwide’.

Meanwhile, magic circle firm A&O has secured the hire of oil and gas specialist Judith Kim, who joins the Dubai office as a partner from Ashurst’s energy resources and infrastructure department. Prior to her stint at Ashurst, Kim also spent several years at energy giant Shell as senior legal counsel and was also previously an associate at A&O’s Dubai office.

Ian Ingram-Johnson, head of energy projects for the Middle East, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Judith back to the firm. Her projects development and energy M&A expertise in the oil and gas sector will complement our market leading energy practice and will allow us to offer clients further expertise in the area of upstream oil and gas.’

The hire comes as the firm announced decisive steps to maintain the growth of its innovative contract lawyer business ‘Peerpoint’. This included the hire of Richard Punt, the managing partner for clients and markets at accountancy giant Deloitte, as Peerpoint’s chief executive officer.

US-based K&L Gates also bolstered its energy, infrastructure and resources team, and added Norton Rose Fulbright partner Robert Milbourne to its Brisbane office.

With more than 15 years working as a corporate lawyer, Milbourne specialises in the mining and resources sector, and advises clients on corporate governance, exploration, project development and M&A. Milbourne leaves top ten firm Norton Rose Fulbright after nearly four years, while prior to this role, he served as general counsel and company secretary at natural resources company, Vale Australia.

K&L Gates Australia managing partner Nick Nichola, said: ‘With Queensland about to enter a phase of large-scale natural gas infrastructure development with more than A$50bn in projects under construction and more investment in the pipeline, it is imperative that we have the best lawyers on the ground in Brisbane to help our clients make the most of the opportunities this type of investment will create’.