Legal Business

Revolving doors: Bird & Bird, Bond Dickinson and Simmons all make lateral moves

The appetite shown by global elite firms to hire laterally at the start of the year has spread wider in the City, as Bird & Bird, Bond Dickinson, Simmons & Simmons and US firm Sedgwick have all been in action recently.

Bird & Bird secured the hire of partner Sven-Michael Werner from rival firm Taylor Wessing to its China corporate practice. Werner, who speaks Mandarin, has over 12 years’ experience practising Chinese law and will be based at the firm’s Shanghai office. He has a focus on M&A and foreign direct investment, particularly advising European clients investing into China.

‘Sven-Michael’s extensive experience in our key sectors of technology, media and life sciences, as well as with major fashion brands, makes him a good fit for our growing corporate practice in China,’ said Marcus Vass, head of Bird & Bird’s China transactional group.

Bird & Bird has also appointed Air Arabia general counsel Anna Anatolitou as a partner across both its UAE offices. Prior to that she was at Norton Rose and has over 13 years’ experience as an aviation and dispute resolution lawyer.

‘Now Anna has joined, we have practical capability in the Middle East to advise airlines, insurers, lessors and investors on all legal issues. Our international aviation sector group has grown considerably over the past ten years and will continue to keep growing,’ said Paul Briggs, co-head of the firm’s aviation group.

Meanwhile another Global 100 firm, Simmons & Simmons, has also scored a coup with the hire of Reed Smith’s head of investment funds for Europe and the Middle East, Dale Gabbert.

Gabbert advises fund managers and financial institutions on the establishment and running of all classes of alternative investment funds, including hedge funds, private equity funds and credit funds.

‘Dale’s appointment will add further scale to our private funds practice, and we are looking forward to him joining this growing team,’ said Colin Leaver, Simmons’ asset management and investment funds sector head.

On the domestic front, Bond Dickinson brought in high regarded intellectual property (IP) expert Patrick Cantrill as partner from top-tier Leeds firm Walker Morris, where he was head of its IP department. The Legal 500 describes him as having an ‘incredible wealth of experience’ illustrated by having over 30 years’ of experience managing IP portfolios for blue chip and international organisations.

‘He is one of the most accomplished lawyers in his field and he will be a first-rate addition to our intellectual property and media practice,’ said Bond Dickinson chairman Nick Page. ‘We look forward to working with him as we develop our presence in London and internationally,’

Finally, US firm Sedgwick brought in DLA Piper insurance litigation partner David Murphy into its London office earlier this month. His experience spans a variety of classes of business, including property, energy, engineering, mining and credit insurance.

Murphy’s practice is truly international. He has represented London market and global insurers in analysing insurance claims and coverage issues arising from numerous jurisdictions around the globe, including Thailand, Colombia, Australia and Peru.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

H1 2013/14: Bird & Bird reveals revenue increase of 5%

Bird & Bird today (3 December) attributed a 5% increase in its half year (H1) 2013/14 revenues to the strengthening of its international offering, although the firm declined to disclose its underlying turnover figure.

The 960-lawyer firm, which operates its accounts in euros, estimated growth of 5% in euros, which it claims equates overall to 10% growth in sterling when currency fluctuations across H1 are taken into account.

Highlights in H1 include office openings in Dubai and Denmark, as well as lateral hires across corporate, intellectual property and media.The top 20 firm also said that despite difficult market conditions, the majority of its offices continued to grow.

In June, Bird & Bird announced an annual 2012/13 revenue growth of 6%, up from £235m to £249m, marking 25 years of continuous growth.

That performance was described by the firm as ‘solid’ and in line with budget ‘in the face of challenging economic conditions in our major markets.’ Despite these prevailing conditions the firm continued to invest, with two new offices, two cooperation agreements and 36 new partners – 11 of which were internal promotions.

Today’s results follow a swathe of positive H1 reports from LB100 firms, including newly-merged Ashurst, which also today reported a 5.8% increase in turnover during the first half of 2013/14 to £298m, attributing the rise to improved economic conditions and an uptick in transactional work.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Office openings: Bird & Bird to extend Middle East capability with Dubai presence

Office openings: Bird & Bird to extend Middle East capability with Dubai presence

Bird & Bird has become the latest leading UK firm to open in Dubai as it transfers Stockholm corporate partner Anders Nilsson to spearhead its new UAE offering.

The 966-lawyer top 20 firm said today that it is setting its sights on expansion to support its growing client base in the emirate, where it advises clients across industries including aviation, media and sports, as well as undertaking work in other sectors such as aerospace, defence, security, communications, energy and utilities, healthcare and life sciences.

Recent client wins in the region include Huawei, PepsiCo, healthcare software specialists TPP and the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022.

The move comes after the firm opened in Abu Dhabi in 2011, taking its UAE base to 13 after it last year recruited Al Jazeera Network’s chief legal officer Osama Abu-Dehays.

The new office will see M&A partner Nilsson build on his established client-base in the region, having worked with Nordic investors in the Middle East and for Middle Eastern clients expanding their operations in Sweden over a number of years.

Head of the Abu Dhabi office, Mark Pinder said: ‘We are very committed to continuing to grow our team in the region and Dubai is the base for many of the high tech innovators that are natural clients for the firm. Having an office there is essential to providing these clients with the support they need so we are very pleased to be making this move.’

Other recent entrants to the Dubai market include Morgan Lewis & Bockius; White & Case; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton; Baker & McKenzie and Addleshaw Goddard.

In July, Morgan Lewis announced that structured finance partner Ayman Khaleq and corporate partner Jim Knight will spearhead its Dubai offering together with London energy partner Lewis Jones, while Baker & McKenzie merged with leading Dubai outfit Habib al Mulla also in the summer.

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Baker & McKenzie hires EY tax partner as EY looks at growth

Baker & McKenzie hires EY tax partner as EY looks at growth

Baker & McKenzie has again turned to one of the Big Four accountancy firms to boost its sizeable London tax practice as EY tax partner Mark Bevington joins as a partner in the 4004-lawyer firm’s City office.

Bevington (pictured) specialises in international tax planning, with a focus on UK domestic taxation, including intangible assets planning, patent box and pension restructuring. His appointment brings the number of tax lawyers in London to nearly 40.

This is not the first time this year that Bakers has looked to the Big Four to bolster its tax practice globally: Peter Tan joined the firm in Singapore from PricewaterhouseCoopers in February and, also in February, Michele Santocchini who joined in Rome from Deloitte.

Baker & McKenzie’s London head of corporate tax, Alex Chadwick, who notably advised both Sony and the Mubadala Development Company on the $2.2bn acquisition of EMI Music Publishing by Sony, which closed last year, said: ‘The international tax services market continues to be in a state of flux. Our ambition is be a leader in the market and Mark’s appointment is in line with that. Having Mark in the team will enable us to further expand the scope of the services we can offer clients in London, while adding strength to an already cutting-edge practice.’

The move comes as EY has recently made its own hire, of Bird & Bird commercial litigation associate Chris Stone. Taking into account Bevington’s departure, Stone’s arrival will bring EY’s lean in-house team to 12 lawyers plus one paralegal. EY is unusual in that it typically hires litigation lawyers who then take on broader work in-house, and general counsel Lisa Cameron is currently reviewing whether the team needs to grow further.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

NQ retention and pay: Good news for NRF and Bird & Bird but FFW puts 5 trainees on extended contract

NQ retention and pay: Good news for NRF and Bird & Bird but FFW puts 5 trainees on extended contract

If you see a rabble of trainees at the pub this lunchtime they may well be from Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF), which today (13 August) announced it has increased its newly-qualified (NQ) salary by £1,500 and offered in excess of 90% of its trainees a permanent position.

The newly merged, 3,800-lawyer firm has announced a trainee retention rate of 92% after offering 24 of its 26 trainees a NQ role, up from 89% in its last round in May. It has also increased its NQ salary from £61,500 to £63,000, effective 1 July (and backdated to 1 May this year). First and second year trainees will remain constant at £38,000 and £43,000 respectively.

On the retention figures, Sarah Kelly, London head of HR at NRF said: ‘These are our first retention figures since our US combination went live and we are really pleased with the rise to a 92% retention rate. We have had three qualification rounds this year and have kept a consistently high retention rate throughout.’

Elsewhere, the news has also been good for trainees at Bird & Bird, which this round boasts a 94% retention rate. A total of 15 out of 16 trainees from the 2011 intake were made offers, with all accepting associate roles with the firm, while one chose to return to university.

Commercial partner Christian Bartsch said: ‘We are delighted to have been able to offer full contracts to 15 of our trainees from the 2011 intake. They have worked very hard and demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment to the firm. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome them as associates within their respective practice groups.’

However, at City firm Field Fisher Waterhouse the position for trainees is far less clear. The firm’s retention rate appears on the surface to be a respectable 76%, as the firm has offered 12 of its 17 trainees a role and all have accepted. But the figure is in fact far lower as five of these 12 positions have been structured as a 12-month fixed term contract to give the partners further time to assess their performance. A spokesperson for the firm claimed that ‘none of the fixed-term positions are for a paralegal role being dressed up as a NQ role,’ and that the firm is ‘confident that all of these will ultimately result in permanent positions.’

At Orrick, meanwhile, only two out of its eight trainees applied for a training contract, according to a spokesperson for the firm, giving it a retention rate of just 25%.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Squire Sanders, Pinsent Masons and Bird & Bird boost corporate and finance capability

Revolving Doors: Squire Sanders, Pinsent Masons and Bird & Bird boost corporate and finance capability

Squire Sanders has today announced the hire of US Dorsey & Whitney City-based corporate finance partner Matthew Doughty in a week that has also seen Pinsent Masons take on a new head of banking in Birmingham and Bird & Bird boost its finance capability in Frankfurt.

Doughty, who specializes in equity capital markets (ECM) with experience of the New York, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London Stock Exchanges, including AIM, was formerly a partner at Addleshaw Goddard’s City office, from where he joined Squire Sanders in June 2009.

The appointments mark a run of hires for the London office of the top 50 Global 100 firm, after the double hire in December of Berwin Leighton Paisner project finance partner Philippa Chadwick and asset-based lending partner Paula Laird from Wragge & Co.

Elsewhere, David Doogan (pictured) joined Pinsents in May from top-tier public sector firm SGH Martineau, where he held the same role. The move will further bolster the UK top 20 firm’s financial institutions and human capital group, which now has around 260 lawyers following a number of recent hires, including banking and restructuring specialist Claire Massie in Glasgow, restructuring and insolvency partner Richard Tripp in Leeds and national head of banking litigation Michael Isaacs in London.

Head of financial institutions at Pinsent Masons, John Cleland, said: ‘Birmingham remains an important hub for several prominent financial institutions for whom we act around the UK. His experience ties in with all of the key areas of banking and restructuring work which we carry out in Birmingham and adds to our comprehensive coverage around the UK.’

Over on the continent, meanwhile, Bird & Bird has appointed international banking and finance partner Bernhard Gemmel, who will officially move across from Dentons’ Frankfurt office on 1 July.

Gemmel, who is also qualified under French law and advises clients on cross-border activities in both Germany and France, was previously a partner at Wall Street-based Shearman & Sterling and German firm Beiten Burkhardt.

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Comment: Say what you like, City practices taking on larger real estate is a good sign

Comment: Say what you like, City practices taking on larger real estate is a good sign

If upgrading your square footage is any litmus test of how City firms feel about the future then a raft of them including DLA Piper, Bird & Bird and Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) can be said to be in confident mood.

As reported by Property Week on Tuesday (11 June), top Global 100 firm DLA is the most recent UK firm looking to expand its City office space, hiring Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to carry out a search for up to 200,000 sq ft of space, an increase on the 110,000 sq ft office it currently occupies in Noble Street.

Last week, top 40 UK firm FFW reportedly placed a bid to take on several floors of a Thames-side site, and Bird and Bird, which recently announced a turnover increase of 6%, last month took on 142,500 sq ft of office space at Great Portland Estates’ New Fetter Lane office building. Hill Dickinson, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Gateley all increased their City space late last year.

On the one hand, no real trend can be read into the upgrades as many have either been driven by firms’ need to consolidate multiple sites or move out of old, no longer fit for purpose buildings. DLA, which currently operates out of two bases in London, is looking to bring both offices under one roof prior to the expiry of its current leases. Bird & Bird, meanwhile, is consolidating three into one.

Furthermore, amidst only fledgling signs of economic recovery in Europe, nor should the moves be taken as a sign of City law firms being over confident. Many firms are deeply aware of client perception and JLL director Richard Proctor said: ‘I don’t see a trend of people taking extravagant office space. They are saying that they have got to strike the balance between appearing professional without clients asking why their office looks so expensive.’

All this aside, the expansions are nonetheless a positive sign and Perry said: ‘We have seen a lot of growth in the last few years, the firm has a lot of ambitious plans, we are very confident for the future.’

One trend that has arisen out of the moves is more visible creativity in the way City practices are using their space.

Proctor said: ‘All law firms are looking at ways they can use their space more effectively, include subletting space they don’t use to reduce their overheads.’

Perry added: ‘I suspect that there’s been a movement in the nature of the space that firms wish to use for direct client use so I think certainly we are looking to have much more imaginative options for our client facing area.’

While this may be so, only a handful of firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and Eversheds are taking the plunge by going open plan. At least one Magic Circle firm has considered and dismissed the idea of dispensing with their closed office space, and US firms’ use of larger offices to reward those higher up the hierarchy means they will be even further behind.

‘It will take a long time for the large firms, particularly US firms, to move to an open plan model,’ Proctor says.

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Reports season 2013 – Bird & Bird and Olswang post healthy revenue increases

Two international firms with strong European practices and a core media focus, Bird & Bird and Olswang, have posted solid revenue increases for the 2012/13 financial year.

Bird & Bird has announced revenue growth of 6%, from £235m to £249m, marking 25 years of continuous growth. Profit figures are yet to be released although a firm spokesperson said that the expectation is that net profits will have risen again in 2012/13.

The performance was described by the firm as solid and in line with budget ‘in the face of challenging economic conditions in our major markets’. Despite these prevailing conditions the firm has continued to invest, with two new offices, two cooperation agreements and 36 new partners – 11 of which were internal promotions. The firm also confirmed that all partner payments had been made during the year.

The top 20, 885-lawyer firm identified Asia and the Middle East as key geographical drivers of growth, along with Germany.

Meanwhile top 40 firm Olswang has reported a 3% growth in revenues, from £108m to £111.3m, slower growth than the 17% it posted last year. The 410-lawyer firm said that profit figures were subject to audit, it anticipated that its net income would be at roughly the same level as last year. However, this means average profit per equity partner will be around £510,000, down from £530,000 last year.

‘Following last year’s significant increase in revenue and profits, this year was more challenging,’ said CEO David Stewart. ‘We had a tough first half, but the firm had a better third and fourth quarter, and we’re content with the overall result given market conditions. Stand out contributions from our German, Belgian and Spanish colleagues were much appreciated, and in particular our international IP and corporate practice groups had a good year.’

‘We have budgeted for a significant rise in turnover and profits this year, as our investments in new partners and offices pay dividends, and our three year plan is ambitious: we are aiming to be in the top 20 by 2016,’ he added. ‘Our international offices have increased their overall revenue contribution by 35 % this year, and international turnover is planned to be over 40% of total revenues by 2016.’

mark.mcateer@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Clutch of firms including Bird & Bird, Dentons and Sidley make key hires

The lateral hires market has over the past week continued to defy an overall drop in activity as Bird & Bird, DWF, Dentons, Sidley Austin and Baker & McKenzie all made strategic hires.

Late last week 234-partner Bird & Bird was joined by Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) franchising partners Graeme Payne and Victoria Hobbs – a not unexpected move after the recent hire of high profile FFW IP and IT head Mark Abell, with whom the duo worked on a number of mandates and were widely tipped to follow. Last year the pair advised luxury shirt brand Thomas Pink on a franchise deal leading to the opening of stores across India.

David Kerr, CEO of Bird & Bird said: ‘There are clear synergies between the nature and type of clients that they have worked for and Bird & Bird’s areas of industry and practice focus.’

Meanwhile in the North of England, acquisitive DWF on 9 May announced the recruitment of a five-partner team from Eversheds.

The fast-expanding firm took on a 12-strong Newcastle real estate team led by partners Adam Heather, Gavin Jackson, Mitch Brown and former Eversheds Newcastle head Adrian Stanley. Brown was Eversheds head of affordable housing and has taken up the same position at DWF.

Fifth partner, Eversheds head of affordable housing litigation, Suzanne Gregson, will join DWF’s Manchester office.

The new hires bolster DWF’s 218-strong national real estate team as the firm eyes top 20 UK law firm status post the wholesale acquisition of Cobbetts in February, which placed it firmly in the top 25. Nic Crocker, national head of real estate at DWF, said: “These individuals bring with them a wealth of experience across a number of key areas, and will provide invaluable support to the team as it continues its push towards top 20 firm status and beyond.”

Across the continent, Dentons is forecasting growth in Germany and has announced its first lateral hires since the tripartite merger with Paris-founded Salans and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain in March. Frankfurt partners Michael Graf and Robert Bastian joined from Haarmann on 1 May. Graf, who has experience advising multinational enterprises and private equity funds on international tax law, has joined the firm’s German tax practice group, while Bastian, who specialises in private equity law and M&A, has joined the German private equity group.

Andreas Ziegenhagen, managing partner for Germany, said: ‘Their arrival marks an important step for our German teams, especially in the context of the Dentons combination, as we will be able to increase the quality of our cooperation both in Germany and globally. The signs point towards growth in Germany and I am confident that Michael and Robert will take advantage of the growing opportunities here.’

Elsewhere, activity in Asia continues apace where US firm Sidley Austin has ramped up its Singapore practice with the hire of Morgan Lewis & Bockius M&A partner Gregory Salathé. The firm became one of four international outfits to be granted a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) license in February this year, allowing it to advise on local law.

Salathé, who focuses on Asia-based cross-border M&A deals, funds and private equity, is an important strategic hire for the firm, which recently announced it was to re-launch its funds practice in Singapore with the hire of Clifford Chance partner Han Ming Ho.

Asia Pacific managing partner Thomas Albrecht said: ‘Greg has extensive experience representing clients in Asia-related cross-border M&A transactions and understands exceptionally well the myriad issues that private equity and hedge funds face when they make downstream investments in the region.

Meanwhile in Sydney, Baker & McKenzie – now with upwards of 3800 lawyers – has hired DLA Piper life sciences partner, Amanda Turnill to co-chair the firm’s Australian Life Sciences group with partner Ben McLaughlin.

With more than 20 years’ experience as a product liability litigator and regulatory lawyer, Turnill – who was the global co-chair of life sciences at DLA – has advised pharmaceutical, medical technology, biotechnology, and other life sciences companies all over the world.

McLaughlin said: ‘Before becoming a lawyer, Amanda was a registered nurse so she has been able to combine her knowledge of health issues and her interest in the life sciences industry with law. It’s this depth of experience that makes Amanda one of the most highly sought after lawyers in this industry.’

According to Motive Legal Consulting’s London Lateral Hiring Trends Bulletin for January to March 2013, ‘Q1 2013 was the second-worst Q1 for seven years, ‘beaten’ only by the depths of the recession.’

 

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

 

Revolving Doors is a regular round-up of senior legal moves across the globe. To be included please contact caroline.hill@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Taking off

Taking off

As the airline industry continues to face a tough economic climate, falling passenger numbers and strict regulations, litigation levels have risen. But who’s getting the work?

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou could shake things up in the airline sector yet again. The 46-year-old founder of easyJet grabbed the world’s interest in September with rumours that he’s on the verge of launching a new long-haul budget airline likely to be called Fastjet.

But Sir Stelios has drawn more headlines of late for his legal disputes. In particular, a lengthy legal showdown with easyJet, which he founded in 1995 and in which his family still owns a 37.4% stake. It’s a dispute that has also seen him at odds with his former solicitors, Bird & Bird.