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Targeting London: Goodwin Procter hires KWM’s Lever to launch City PE practice

Having set its sights on creating a private equity practice, given how Weil, Gotshal & Manges has made moves on prized client Advent International, Goodwin Procter has hired King & Wood Mallesons’ City corporate co-head Richard Lever.

Goodwin Procter plans to build a substantial team in London around Lever who has a proven track record in the City private equity space, having acted for the likes of ECI partners, Graphite Capital, Investcorp and Lion Capital,. He becomes the eighth London partner at the firm.

Lever was promoted to co-head of KWM’s City corporate team in December 2013, alongside Michael Goldberg, after private equity heavyweight Steven Davis stepped down before joining Proskauer Rose.

He becomes the fourth big-name corporate partner to quit King & Wood Mallesons since it agreed to merge with City firm SJ Berwin in 2013, with Tim Wright having jumped to DLA Piper in May 2014 and Ed Harris opting to join Hogan Lovells in October 2013.

‘The addition of Richard to spearhead the growth of our private equity practice in Europe is a significant and long-planned strategic step in the expansion of our London office capabilities,’ said Goodwin’s London chief David Evans. 

The firm launched in London in 2008, initially focused on expanding the firm’s real estate capital markets and fund formation practice in Europe, and has since grown to more than 25 lawyers.

Evans told Legal Business it took the firm around a year and a half to gain traction in those areas before gaining market credibility and is now looking to replicate that in private equity. ‘We’re not going to sit here and try and tackle the European private equity market with one bloke. We’re going to have to grow it. That means building a bench in levfin and private equity so we can credibly face that market.’

John LeClaire, co-head of the firm’s private equity group said: ‘Our private equity work in Europe over the years convinces us that there is a real opportunity to penetrate the middle market and growth equity sectors with a highly commercial, sector-focused, valued-added service offering. Those are our areas of focus and strength, and they align perfectly with Richard’s practice focus and strategic vision.’

Filings at Companies House by King & Wood Mallesons LLP have revealed that the firm’s UK office saw a 10.7% fall in turnover from £121.5m to £108.5m in the year to 30 April 2014. The hit to revenues saw operating profit fall from £59.6m to £54.3m in that period, while profit before partner remuneration and profit shares dropped 7.1% from £57m to £53m.