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Ropes continues City buyout push with hire of Travers star Helen Croke

Having landed Travers Smith private equity veteran Phil Sanderson in 2014, top 50 US law firm Ropes & Gray has returned to the leading private equity shop to recruit rising star Helen Croke.

Croke, who counts London-based buyout house Bridgepoint as one of her main clients, leaves Travers Smith after 17 years. Her departure comes as a reverse to the 300-lawyer City thoroughbred, which has so far had a strong record in retaining key partners despite the decade-long push by predatory US rivals into its core private equity heartlands. Croke will work alongside Sanderson, who formerly headed Travers’ private equity team before handing over to Paul Dolman.

Mike Goetz, Ropes’ London managing partner said: ‘Helen will enhance the already very strong team that we have built in London over the past six years. She is one of the most outstanding lawyers of her generation and her arrival will give us further capacity to not only serve our current client base but also build on existing opportunities.’

Croke qualified at Travers in 2001 and was made a partner just seven years later. She is a go-to adviser for the likes of Silverfleet Capital, which she helped to spin out of Prudential’s fund management arm M&G in 2007, and Arle Capital Partners, which Croke advised on its spin-off from Candover in 2010.

A regular for Bridgepoint’s smaller-cap business, Bridgepoint Development Capital, Croke has acted on a string of deals for the house including its sale of healthcare company Quotient Clinical to GHO Capital in December. Croke more recently handled its acquisition of a 40% stake in online lead generation business MVF in February 2015 and £42m purchase of e-document management systems Phlexglobal from Inflexion Private Equity in July 2014. (The general counsel of Bridgepoint is former Travers Smith partner Charles Barter, who switched in 2008.)

Boston-bred Ropes has been one of the fastest-growing US law firms in London since launching in 2009, making a sustained push in Europe’s private equity and leveraged finance market underwritten by mandates for longstanding US sponsor clients such as TPG and Bain Capital. Ropes is already the 13th largest overseas law firm in the City, with 133 lawyers. This represents a 37% increase in headcount over the past year.

For more on US firms in the City, subscribers can see our 2016 Global London report