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Revolving doors: White & Case enters recruitment overdrive as Lewis Silkin establishes Belfast employment hub

After a quieter July, the pace of partner recruitment has picked up significantly this week, with notable activity at White & Case, Lewis Silkin, Squire Patton Boggs and others.

In London, White & Case has made a shrewd addition from in-house, hiring George Kazakov as a partner from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners. Previously global investment counsel, Kazakov has extensive experience advising on a wide range of international private equity, M&A and finance transactions, with a particular focus on the infrastructure sector.

Caroline Miller Smith, partner and EMEA section head, said: ‘His international outlook and understanding of infrastructure investments and transaction management from the investor’s point of view will be of significant strategic value to our clients.’

The firm has also boosted its capital markets practice in Hong Kong with the hire of Margie Chan as a partner, who joins from Norton Rose Fulbright. Chan’s practice focuses on high yield debt offerings, private placements and liability management transactions governed by New York law, English law or Hong Kong law.

And in Sydney, White & Case has hired two partners from Australian firm Gilbert + Tobin to expand both its global project development and finance practices. Chris Flynn is an experienced energy partner who typically advises domestic and international clients on energy transactions and projects. Meanwhile Tim Kennedy, who also predominantly operates in the energy sector, assists companies, governments, sponsors and investors on transactions and the transition to lower emission energy options.

Mark Castillo-Bernaus, head of the firm’s global development and finance practice, said: ‘The addition of Chris and Tim, with their experience in both the traditional energy and the renewable power sectors, dovetails perfectly with our clients’ energy transition focus.’

Lewis Silkin has this week announced a tie-up with Belfast employment specialist Jones Cassidy Brett (JCB), to offer clients a joined-up employment law and HR advice service. JCB’s six-strong team is therefore joining Lewis Silkin, led by partners Adam Brett and Ciara Fulton. Fulton will become Lewis Silkin’s new head of office in Belfast.

The Belfast opening builds on the establishment of a Dublin office in 2018, which provides employment and immigration law advice as well as commercial, IP and data expertise. Richard Miskella, joint managing partner, commented: ‘JCB’s knowledge of and reputation within the Northern Irish employment law market is second to none, and we have known and collaborated with the firm for some time.

‘Since establishing our presence in Ireland in 2018, we have seen a growing need and client demand for a seamless, market-leading employment offering across the whole island of Ireland. Joining forces with JCB is a perfect solution to this need, integrating their renowned specialist practice as part of our wider offering across the UK, Ireland and internationally.’

Squire Patton Boggs has pursued a major expansion of its financial services team in London, hiring a team of lawyers from Clyde & Co. Led by partner and former head of trade and commodity finance Robert Parson, the team is completed by senior associates Geraldine Butac and Jennifer Greengrass.

Parson is a veteran of the sector with over 30 years’ experience, with his practice focused on structuring deals and complex cross-border financings for banks, traders and exporters.

Jonathan Jones, European managing partner, described Parson as ‘one of the leading trade finance lawyers in Europe’. He added: ‘The depth of knowledge and connections that Robert and his team bring presents exciting synergies in key areas of our business, while giving us access to new clients.’

Kirkland & Ellis has made another interesting hire to reinforce its environmental, social and governance (ESG) advisory credentials, appointing former Linklaters lawyer Ruth Knox as a partner. Knox has a head start on new entrants into the market, having spent the last ten years advising clients on a range of ESG matters including the European Union sustainable finance package and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. Her hire follows that of Mary Beth Houlihan as a partner in its ESG & Impact practice group in New York recently.

Also in the UK, Shakespeare Martineau has expanded its commercial expertise with the addition of partner Carys Thompson in Sheffield, who arrives from Keebles (recently acquired by Knights). As head of Keebles’ commercial team, Thompson worked with start-ups as well as major domestic and international businesses on a range of transactions, arrangements and contracts.

Thompson cited growth potential as a key factor in her move: ‘There is a real opportunity for Shakespeare Martineau to increase its profile in Sheffield and beyond; and I look forward to being part of the team that makes that possible.’

In Düsseldorf, Jones Day has pulled off a coup with the hire of Thomas Weinmann as a partner, previously co-head of Herbert Smith Freehills’ German disputes practice. Weimann has a dual litigation and arbitration practice, with a special focus on disputes in the construction and energy sectors. He said: ‘Jones Day has been one of the leading international law firms in the field of disputes for decades and I look forward using my international experience to contribute to the further development of this world-leading firm in Germany.’

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has taken a partner from rival firm Hill Dickinson in Singapore, hiring commodities disputes specialist Sumeet Malhotra. Malhotra has a particular expertise in representing agricultural and commodity traders on trade disputes, as well as structured trade finance, trade credit insurance and shipping matters.

Before joining Hill Dickinson in 2017, Malhotra trained as a barrister in Mumbai and then spent 13 years in-house at a number of different leading commodity trading houses. He said: ‘With its deep expertise in the maritime, energy, and mining and commodities sectors, highly respected Asia Pacific network of offices and fast-expanding dispute resolution practice, WFW is quite simply the ideal platform from which my team and I can further and better serve our valued clients.’

Latham & Watkins has strengthened its Seoul office by hiring experienced capital markets partner Richard Lee from Clifford Chance. Lee has an established practice as one of very few Korean-fluent high yield experts with vast experience across the full spectrum of debt and equity transactions. He advises on both US-registered and unregistered work, and has a comprehensive understanding of the Korean market from his experience working with companies operating in the region.

Finally, in New York, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has hired cross-border real estate partner Kwon Lee, who joins from Mayer Brown. Lee, who will immediately take up the reins as global head of BCLP’s Korea practice, regularly advises on large equity and debt financings – particularly related to Korea.

BCLP partner and US real estate head Andrew Auerbach hailed Lee’s ‘exceptional reputation in the global real estate market’ and said: ‘He brings to BCLP a deep level of legal and real estate industry experience that will benefit clients in the US and globally, and adds more strength to our deep global real estate practice and the broad platform we have created for future growth.’