Legal Business

‘The transition is over’: BCLP names Jinal Shah as new UK managing partner

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) announced this week that Jinal Shah will become the firm’s UK managing partner from 1 January 2024.

He is taking over from Segun Osuntokun, who served in this role since 2018, with Osuntokun now appointed as BCLP’s first global senior partner, also effective from 1 January.

Shah joined BCLP as a partner in 2021, from Orrick, where he spent almost a decade as partner.

On the firm’s strategy, he told LB: ‘Since our combination in 2018, we are a fully integrated international firm and continue to follow our strategy that is centred around our clients and priority sectors. This strategy continues to be to further develop as a leading international firm, with strong local and regional practices as well. It is a combination, a hybrid of that, with balance across our three main departments.’

Recognised by The Legal 500 as a leading individual for corporate work, Shah advises public and private companies, funds and investors on high-value cross-border M&A, private equity, joint ventures and strategic investments.

On his new appointment, he commented: ‘I’m not going to be making big changes from day one, that’s not the way we do things. Things are consensus based, and we do things with long-term objectives. We will have a continued focus on getting the message out to clients about our strengths and our successes.’

Shah represents clients on a broad spectrum of commercial agreements and assisting multinational corporations in navigating the intricate regulatory frameworks of diverse jurisdictions. His client portfolio spans across various sectors, including infrastructure, food and agriculture, retail, technology, media, entertainment, manufacturing, and financial services.

Throughout this year, the firm has disclosed numerous changes in its leadership. In July, BCLP revealed a shift to a single leadership structure, with Steve Baumer set to assume the role of the firm’s inaugural global CEO at the beginning of next year.

Commenting on the changes, Shah said: ‘In terms of single leadership, we have a CEO and global senior partner, and they will work very closely together in shepherding the firm. The team of Steve and Segun is incredibly strong and has widespread support throughout the partnership, so again, I don’t see it as a material change but, as a fully merged international organisation, this is very much part of that.’

He added: ‘It makes it easier to have a single CEO, it is more efficient and practical. It is the normal way of operating for large businesses and we are consistent with that. This marks that the transition is over and we’re now a fully merged firm.’

Baumer, alongside Lisa Mayhew since 2018, both currently serve as the firm’s co-chairs. However, Mayhew will step down from the position when the firm adopts a single leadership structure. Mayhew previously served as the firm’s managing partner from 2015 to 2018.

‘This is business as usual. This is in our constitution, and it was always planned that our co-chairs’ functions were coming to an end with the CEO and senior partner going to replace the co-chairs. This was envisaged at the time of our combination,’ added Shah.

He continued: ‘Lisa has been instrumental in helping to steer us in the early years after the combination and will continue to play a significant role in the firm.’

Earlier this month, BCLP added two new partners, Vishal Mawkin and Russell Van Praagh to its London debt capital markets and corporate finance transactions groups respectively. Mawkin joined from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he was counsel while Van Praagh left his role as a partner at Osborne Clarke after nine years.

However, in September, the firm lost real estate partners Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood who joined Greenberg Traurig to launch its UAE office with the hires of real estate partners Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood from BCLP.

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Cleary makes up two in London as BCLP unveils 21-strong round

Cleary Gottlieb has made up nine new partners in its latest round of promotions, two of which are in London, while Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has included five UK lawyers in its latest cohort.

The promotion of Chrishan Raja and Naomi Tarawali to partner in Cleary’s London office is indicative of firm’s steady approach. Raja, a capital markets lawyer, has experience representing Barclays, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and UBS, while the disputes-focused Tarawali specialises in representing financial institutions, funds and sovereigns. The 2022 round matches last year’s efforts in the City, which saw Henry Mostyn and Gareth Kristensen welcomed into the equity, though in total, the latest class falls short of the 11 partners made up across the firm in 2021.

Speaking to Legal Business, Cleary M&A partner Tihir Sarkar (pictured) said: ‘In the UK we’re 23 partners so we’ve increased by 10%, which is significant. For us to do two is slightly unusual. It’s a reflection of practice groups where we’ve identified the right candidates. The UK-focused disputes practice started from scratch about 10 years ago, and Naomi is our second home-bred associate-to-partner candidate [James Brady-Banzet was made partner in 2019]. That shows the growth and continued importance of the disputes practice. On the capital markets side, we haven’t made up somebody for quite some time. Historically, it’s been a very important practice for Cleary Gottlieb, so we’ve bolstered our English law capabilities with Chrishan.’

Globally, the firm promoted a further three partners in New York, as well as two in Paris and one each in Hong Kong and Frankfurt.

On Europe, Sarkar added: ‘Europe is a big part of our DNA. We opened in Paris soon after we opened in New York, so we’ve been in continental Europe for a long time. If you look at the standard of our lawyers and matters in Paris, Brussels and Rome, we feel we have got one of the strongest European franchises. We need to continue to keep replenishing those areas.’

Meanwhile, BCLP has announced 21 new partners. The new cohort, which is spread across 13 offices, will take up their new positions on 1 January 2023.

Seven of the class are based in the UK, including five in the capital. Corporate and M&A lawyer Tom Bacon, real estate specialist James Banks, commercial litigator Benjamin Blacklock, construction-focused Kimberly Roberts, and tax lawyer Andy West have all made the grade this year. They are joined by a further two new partners in the Southampton office: Eleanor Penton, who focuses on real estate finance; and Emma Sadler, who advises on non-contentious real estate issues.

Though sizeable by the firm’s standards, this year’s class did not surpass the cohort of 2021, where the firm unveiled 25 new additions to the equity in November last year, the largest promotion round in its history.

Legal Business

London and St Louis receive lion’s share of investment as BCLP announces 20-strong global promotion round

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) promoted 20 lawyers as part of its latest global promotion round, the firm announced today (6 November), with London and St Louis again getting the majority of the spoils.

The figure is an increase of three on last year’s promotion push, though the City figure is one shy of last year’s five lawyers minted in London.

The round was particularly strong for the firm’s litigation practice. The new City partners are: Rebecca Campbell (litigation); Adam Jamieson (litigation and corporate risk); Marie Johnson (corporate finance); and Sarah McAtominey (commercial disputes and high net worth individuals).

St Louis, the home of the firm’s American half of the business, again received an equal amount of investment to London, with four new partners minted compared to last year’s five. Meanwhile, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver all saw two lawyers promoted. Moscow, Chicago, Irvine, New York, Kansas City, and Phoenix all saw one additional partner.

Regarding the hires, firm co-chairs Steve Baumer and Lisa Mayhew commented in a joint statement: ‘The firm continues to grow across a more focused platform, led by our transformative aspirations under Project Advance to build scale around existing core areas of practice strength. At the same time, we are transforming the firm’s operational infrastructure to help drive growth and client experience in the coming years. We are excited to see where the talents and energy of these new partners will take us and we congratulate them all.’ The promotions will be effective as of 1 January 2021 and will see BCLP’s partnership ranks increase to 545.

Legal Business

‘Inevitable distractions’ hit BCLP revenue and profit in lean post-merger debut

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) endured a challenging debut year as a fully-merged entity, as the cost of integration weighed on growth.

Turnover was down 2% to $874.1m from the $899.4m the firm posted for 2018, the year legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave finalised their transatlantic union. Net income was also down almost 4% to $228m.

‘It’s relevant to put it in the context of the first 21 months since the merger,’ BCLP co-chair Lisa Mayhew (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘At the end of 2018 we saw a 5% profit boost and a 1% increase in revenue and that was impressive. Inevitably when you integrate two large firms there’s a distraction element, there’s inevitably a bit of a cost to that integration. But I’d take that 5% increase in profit and a slight dip in revenue.’

Profit per equity partner (PEP), however, also saw a modest falls, edging down 1% to $833,000 from $844,000 over 2019 while revenue per lawyer was likewise down, dropping 2% to $621,000 from $631,000. Lawyer headcount at the firm, meanwhile, remained largely stable, dropping a 2% to 1,399. The decline in PEP comes despite an almost 3% fall in the number of equity partners, but, more positively, the Anglo American firm recorded a net positive cash balance of $86m.

Last summer, Mayhew was elected to serve another four years as co-head of the firm, while St Louis transactional partner Steven Baumer was elected to succeed Therese Pritchard after she became ineligible to serve another stint. Later in December, St Louis and London evenly shared the spoils of a 17-strong global promotion round. The firm has also recently engaged with management consultancy McKinsey as the firm undertakes a strategic review.

Despite the subdued financials, BCLP started 2020 with a splash, recruiting a 21-strong team of lawyers in Paris, including seven partners, with more having joined since. The move was the firm’s largest addition since its merger went live, though further expansion on the continent in 2020 is not expected, with the firm currently having 31 offices across the globe.

Despite the increasing global uncertainty, Mayhew remained sanguine about 2020: ‘We are going to be served well by the fact we’re four months into a strategy exercise with McKinsey. We have intellectual momentum behind us so we will continue to be a bit ahead on that side.’

Legal Business

‘Our first big move’: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner gets Paris play over the line

Real estate leader taps Franklin for eight partners with more to come in France

‘It’s great to get to the moment where our first big move has happened.’
Lisa Mayhew, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Since the 2018 tie-up between Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave, the merged entity of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has experienced a period of relative calm. But while the last 18 months have been defined by neither convulsion nor dramatic moves, the firm’s recent play in Paris could mark a new phase in BCLP’s post-merger ambitions.

Legal Business

Continental growth ‘high on the agenda’: BCLP bolsters Paris outpost with seven-partner splash

Starting the New Year with a bang, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has recruited a 21-strong team of lawyers in Paris, including seven partners.

The hires mark the largest addition to the firm since its transatlantic merger in 2018, with expansion on the continent high on the agenda for the firm’s leadership. Two partners have joined in the Paris offices’ real estate, taxation and financing teams respectively, while one partner was added in public law.

‘[Legacy] BLP (Berwin Leighton Paisner) didn’t have an office in Paris, but clients would still turn to us to do transactional work,’ BCLP co-chair Lisa Mayhew told Legal Business. ‘It was a hole in our capability and we would have to turn to other firms to do work in Paris, so it’s something we’ve been strategizing for a long time. Bryan Cave did have a good but small Paris office, so it’s also an opportunity to add to that capability.’

Real estate duo Henry Ranchon and Laurent Schittenhelm will be joined by taxation partners Christine Daric and Olivier Mesmin. Meanwhile, in financing the firm adds David Blondel and Olivier Borenstejn. Jean-Pierre Delvigne joins the firm’s public law practice, with all the partners joining from French independent firm Franklin.

The additions increase BCLP’s Paris headcount to 37, more than doubling the firm’s presence. Paris – which will remain led by managing partner Rémy Blain – will now be third only to London and Germany in Europe in terms of size, despite BCLP losing 10 lawyers to Addleshaw Goddard in Hamburg last year. In December, the firm also lost partners in London, with DLA Piper recruiting Bob Maynard and Caroline Pope to its litigation and regulatory practice in the City.

Meanwhile, Mayhew insists further growth on the continent is likely: ‘We definitely want to grow in Germany, we already have over 60 lawyers there so it is bigger than France. We want to grow in part in our corporate and finance practices, as we already have a huge real estate bench in Berlin. So that is definitely high on the growth agenda, but there has to be a strategic reason.’

However, no offices on the continent featured in the firm’s latest promotion round, with the legacy firms’ respective hubs receiving the lion’s share of new partners. Of the 17 partners promoted globally, five were minted in London, matching the St Louis figure, while the remaining 12 partners spanned Kansas, Atlanta, Washington, Denver and Los Angeles. All but one of the City promotions were made to the firm’s traditionally strong real estate practice.

Legal Business

Life During Law: Segun Osuntokun

I was born in Nigeria as one of five children. My parents were medical doctors. My father was one of Nigeria’s pre-eminent neurologists, and quickly became globally renowned. A typical aspirational father, he built himself up through effort and excellence and thought all his children should be equally excellent. By the age of 15 I was sent to a boarding school in England to do my A levels. After that I did an economics degree at Queen Mary London.

I went back to Nigeria and did national service. Not as exciting as it sounds, more community service than military service. Did that for a year and part of it was working in a bank. It was not for me.

Legal Business

The City and St Louis share the spoils of 17-strong BCLP global promotion round

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has promoted five partners in London, the same number as in St Louis, in its second promotion round since becoming a merged entity last year.

The firm promoted 17 globally, six fewer than last year, although London saw an increased investment on the three promoted in 2018.

The round was also strong for female representation, with women making up 60% of the new partner cohort. The promotions spanned London, St Louis, Kansas, Atlanta, Washington, Denver and Los Angeles.

The promotions in the City will be a boon to legacy BLP’s traditionally strong real estate practice, with all but one of the new partners a lawyer in the sector. The new City partners are: Ciarán Londra (real estate); Giles Pink (real estate); Matthew Pomfret (commercial real estate); Payam Yoseflavi (real estate finance); and Claire Morel de Westgaver (arbitration). Last year the City promotions spanned the corporate, contentious construction and asset finance practices.

St Louis – the firm’s largest US office – received an additional partner on last year, across a wider range of practice groups. Kansas and Atlanta saw two additional partners while Washington, Denver and Los Angeles received one apiece. The firm now counts 561 partners across the globe with 1,400 in total across 31 offices.

However, last week BCLP lost partners in the City, with DLA Piper recruiting Bob Maynard and Caroline Pope to its litigation and regulatory practice in London. Meanwhile over the summer, co-chair Lisa Mayhew was elected to serve another four years in the role, while Therese Pritchard was ineligible to serve another term and is to be succeeded by St Louis transactional partner Steven Baumer.

The promotions will be effective as of 1 January 2020.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Akin Gump hires Orrick private equity player as Kirkland revisits Linklaters for tax lateral

City and US rivals in London have been continuing to ramp up lateral recruitment with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld adding its third private equity partner in the space of a month, Kirkland & Ellis hiring a tax partner from Linklaters and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) strengthening its employment bench.

Akin Gump hired private equity partner Weyinmi Popo from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe only a month after adding Shaun Lascelles and Simon Rootsey to the bench from Vinson & Elkins in late September.

Popo advises UK and international sponsor and investor clients as well as family offices on private equity, M&A, infrastructure and energy transactions, with an emphasis on Africa. He will start at his new firm later this month.

Akin Gump’s chairperson Kim Koopersmith (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘London is clearly a market we’re focused on for growth, and you’ve seen us welcome a lot of great talent there recently. Much of that growth has been around the private equity space, which complements our other strengths very well and where we’ve identified a number of opportunities. Weyinmi’s practice and skillset fits in perfectly with that strategy. That, coupled with his focus on Africa, where we are seeing tremendous client interest, will make him a great fit.’

Meanwhile, Kirkland has returned to Linklaters to hire tax partner Mavnick Nerwal. He follows in the footsteps of fellow tax partner Tim Lowe who made the move from the Magic Circle firm to the Chicago-bred powerhouse in 2016.

Nerwal has experience in advising financial sponsors, including private equity and investment funds, corporates and financial institutions.

Meanwhile, BCLP has hired Adam Lambert as partner in the employment and labor group. Lambert joined the London office from Kingsley Napley where he focused on employment disputes and global transactions, advising across sectors including asset management, professional services, publishing, manufacturing and hospitality.

Partner and co-leader of the employment and labor team Rebecca Harding-Hill, told Legal Business: ‘Adam particularly fits in with us because of his global reach. He’s got a broad client base which covers financial services, professional services, publishing and hospitality. We have a lot of clients in financial services, so it broadens that out.’

Elsewhere, Clyde & Co has appointed Stefanie Johnston as partner in its global marine and insurance team in Glasgow.

Johnston joins from Keoghs where she helped to establish the firm’s Scottish presence. She will establish and build the firm’s marine offering in Scotland and will work closely with marine colleagues in the UK and globally.

Managing partner at Clyde & Co in Scotland, David Tait told Legal Business: ‘Stephanie has been a marine practitioner for a number of years. She has had clients follow her from firm to firm and it is hoped that when she comes to work for us, that those clients will continue to follow her and that she will grow the practice and build on the many years of experience she has in marine law.

‘We’ve got a significant marine practice in London and if they have any clients that require assistance on Scottish matters, we’ve got Stephanie here who can help them with that,’ added Tait.

Finally, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton London corporate finance partner Andrew Shutter has left the firm after 22 years. Shutter joined the firm in 1997 and advised on a range of debt matters, including being an adviser for Greece’s public debt management agency regarding Greece’s debt negotiations in 2015.

Legal Business

Mayhew secures new four-year term at BCLP with Pritchard ineligible to run again

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) co-chair Lisa Mayhew has been elected to serve another four years in the role. Meanwhile, current co-chair Therese Pritchard was ineligible to serve another term and is to be succeeded by St Louis transactional partner Steven Baumer.

The terms for Mayhew and Baumer begin 1 January 2020 and will run four years, with Pritchard set to return to her practice after not being eligible to seek another term. Both Mayhew and Pritchard had led their legacy firms going into the transatlantic merger to create BCLP, which was completed 3 April 2018.

However, terms of governance at the firm mean that upon reaching the age of 65, a partner is ineligible to run for senior management, meaning Pritchard was unable to seek an extension to her existing term.

Mayhew (pictured) was first elected managing partner of legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in 2015, succeeding former managing partner and later senior partner Neville Eisenberg and beating the firm’s former corporate chief David Collins. The firm would not comment on whether Mayhew was contested by any other candidates  in the recent election.

Meanwhile, incoming co-chair Baumer first joined legacy Bryan Cave in 1996, before going on to spearhead the firm’s global transactional practice. Commenting on her re-election, Mayhew told Legal Business: ‘In voting for me and Steve, the partnership is supporting the global strategy at the firm. There is a tone of collaboration here which means we’re all in this boat together.’

While the merger saw the combined entity edge into the top global top 50 in terms of revenue, LLP accounts from January of this year showed that legacy BLP was enduring a financial malaise before the merger, being hit with a 21% drop in profit and a 3% decline in revenue in the last full financial year before the union.

For more on the leadership of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, read ‘Eyes on “the prize” – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union’