London headcount: 91 lawyers, 28 partners
Lawyer headcount change since 2015: +38%
London headcount: 91 lawyers, 28 partners
Lawyer headcount change since 2015: +38%
With mental health and wellbeing now front and centre among law firm leaders more than ever, Cooley’s London office has become the latest to sign up to the Mindful Business Charter.
Launched in 2018, the charter was devised by banking giant Barclays alongside Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard in a bid to combat workplace practices that contribute to stress and poor mental health among lawyers. It encourages people to think about being clear in emails on when they need a response if sent outside business hours and not expecting people on annual leave to be on call.
Cooley joins a cohort of law firms that have identified this mental health initiative as a business priority. Aside from the founding members, other signatories include Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, BCLP, Burness Paull, Capsticks, Clifford Chance, CMS, DAC Beachcroft, Dentons, DLA Piper, DWF, Eversheds Sutherland, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, HFW, Hogan Lovells, Irwin Mitchell, Linklaters, Matheson, Michelmores, Mills & Reeve, Morton Fraser, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke, Paul Hastings, Radiant Law, RPC, Shoosmiths, Simmons & Simmons, Squire Patton Boggs, TLT, Travers Smith, Ward Hadaway, Weightmans and Womble Bond Dickinson.
UK mental health charity Mind, the City Mental Health Alliance, the International Bar Association, the Law Societies of England and Wales and of Scotland, LawCare and the Solicitors Regulation Authority all support the initiative.
Natasha Kaye, a partner in Cooley’s London office, said: ‘This year has been incredibly trying in myriad ways, and it’s more important than ever that we act on our shared responsibility to ensure the wellness of our greatest asset – our people. We’re putting pen to paper on removing unnecessary stresses that hinder performance and gradually, yet significantly, impact well-being.’
The four key pillars of the charter are: openness and respect; smart meetings and emails; respecting rest periods; and mindful delegation.
In 2018, Cooley joined the inaugural class of the American Bar Association’s Wellness Pledge, signing on to implement a seven-point plan aimed at changing the landscape of the legal profession through education, policies and culture.
For more on the charter, see ‘No alarms and no surprises – Behind the Mindful Business Charter’ (£).
In what is a brand new category for the Legal Business Awards in 2020, we are pleased to reveal the Most Transformative In-House Team of the Year.
This award recognises in-house legal teams that have made a major contribution to change or transformation either at an industry or sector level, or have championed unusual or innovative approaches. This could range from dealing admirably with dramatic changes in a particular industry to wrestling with challenges in society linked to cultural or technological upheaval.
The in-house legal department at BT has undergone significant changes over the last two years. First, group general counsel Sabine Chalmers joined from Anheuser-Busch InBev in April 2018, replacing the widely-admired Dan Fitz. Then the team was restructured to mirror the shape of the wider business before, finally, a high-profile managed services deal was signed with newly-listed law firm DWF.
The resulting transformation made BT the standout choice for this year’s award. The company’s lawyers are now freed up for strategic work, with 84% of low-value deals managed by a legal process outsourcing team of 34 in Belfast and Wroclaw. Moreover, a 10% reduction in the total cost of legal for 2018/19 means the figure now stands at about £70m.
Meanwhile, BT also grabbed headlines when a team of 43 covering insurance and real estate work switched to DWF on a five-year multimillion-pound managed legal services arrangement. General counsel of technology at BT, Chris Fowler (and LB Awards judge, who recused himself from this category), was the lawyer charged with finding the right partner for the managed services deal, and he began by establishing the overall cost of BT’s function. There is just one budget now, but this was not always the case; as recently as 2017 there were six. After assessing 26 potential providers, a shortlist of four was agreed, and finally DWF was chosen.
The changes to the company’s legal function displayed an agility to respond to changes in the wider business. In 2018, BT announced plans to cut around 13,000 jobs over the next three years in a bid to save £1.5bn in costs. A month later, chief executive Gavin Peterson surprisingly resigned after five years at the helm. Throughout, the company’s legal function has been adapting to these seismic shifts in the business.
Director of transformation, Dave Hart, now leads a team of 15 tasked with building on Fowler’s foundation and dedicating full-time resource to the ‘transformation agenda.’ Expect more change and evolution at BT in the years to come.
A close second for this year’s award was American hybrid cloud data services company NetApp, with slick technology use and an expanded business function impressing judges.
One such piece of tech was a robotic process automation tool designed to improve contract management. NetApp used the tool, which it named Bot-icelli, to reduce end-to-end contract processing time from 15 minutes to 2.5 minutes, freeing up parts of the business for more complex work.
NetApp’s legal function has also helped the company develop beyond its single-product origins. Today, the business includes products and services, including a cloud business. One specific area where legal aided the wider business was in reducing a 70-page agreement for consumption of hyper-converged infrastructure to a two-page agreement, expediting time to close deals.
NetApp Legal also expanded its purview to include a government relations function. Over the past year, the company benchmarked and researched to better understand how NetApp could design and leverage a government relations function to proactively advance business objectives.
The Mindful Business Charter, devised by Barclays alongside Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard, aims to cut down on workplace practices that contribute to stress and poor mental health among lawyers, and has grown to nearly 40 signatories since its inception in late 2018.
Over just three months in 2019, a small legal team at CCEP navigated a slew of regulatory and governance changes to complete a listing move that had never been attempted before: a transfer from Euronext to the London Stock Exchange.
The legal team has been central in GSK and Pfizer smoothly combing their respective consumer healthcare businesses to create a world-leading joint venture with combined sales of approximately £9.8bn.
With the outsourcing sector facing turbulent times in recent years, Mitie’s legal team has been at the heart of its transformation as it has ridden the storm to successfully refocus, reset and re-establish its business.
Cooley’s London outpost has outpaced the West Coast firm’s global revenue growth for the third consecutive year, rising 9% to $72.9m five years after its launch.
The results disclosed today (13 February) show a global revenue increase of 8% to $1.33bn while profits per equity partner (PEP) rose 6% to $2.54m in 2019.
The pace of growth slowed somewhat on last year, when both global and City turnover were up by double digit figures, 16% to $66.7m and 14% to $1.23bn respectively. Revenue per lawyer at the 1,000-strong firm grew by just 2% in 2019 to $1.32m compared to an 8% rise in 2018.
But overall the results signal another solid year for the Palo Alto-bred firm, fuelled by an ever busy Silicon Valley tech scene and faster-than-usual international expansion, with new offices launched in Brussels and Hong Kong in 2019, followed by Singapore this year. Cooley has grown its global turnover 157% since 2010.
‘It was another very successful year, notwithstanding the uncertainty over Brexit and so forth,’ London managing partner Justin Stock told Legal Business. ‘Our London revenue continued upwards without much growth in partner numbers and that’s a great result.’
The firm’s City base now counts around 100 lawyers including 30 partners. It is about to move into new premises at 22 Bishopsgate with room for more than 150 lawyers. Recent hires included capital markets partners Claire Keast-Butler and David Boles from US rival Latham & Watkins.
‘There is still definitely room for growth,’ added Stock, conceding that the process took longer than expected: ‘I would have loved to be closer to 150 lawyers by now, but we are not going to hire just for the sake of hiring, we have to make sure we get the right people. But the plans is still to grow materially over the next few years.’
UK deals included advising biotech company Therachon on its $810m sale to Pfizer and manufacturer Bavarian Nordic on its €955m acquisition of manufacturing rights for two vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline.
‘We started to see in addition to the capital markets work, significant high profile deals in life sciences,’ said Stock. ‘The emerging companies group is on fire and is one of the key players in the UK venture capital market.’
Cooley was also active on the City contentious side, advising Allergy Therapeutics on a breach of contract claim against Canadian company Inflamax, and biopharma company IQVIA in a dispute with Swiss pharma company Cardiorentis.
In other financial results announced this week, revenue at the London base of US disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan rose 20% to £100.6m, while King & Spalding increased its UK turnover 15% to $55.7m. Wall Street firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, however, saw its London revenue drop for the second year in a row, falling 4% to $41.3 in 2019.
Dentons is to enter one of the few European jurisdictions missing from its sprawling international network by launching an outpost in Dublin.
Law firms’ strategies in the Middle East and Asia continue to diverge, meanwhile, with Winston & Strawn concluding its five-year spell in Dubai as Cooley confirmed its third office launch in less than a year by opening in Singapore.
Dentons announced today (8 January) it was launching in the Irish legal market through a couple of lateral hires, a different approach to the firm’s usual international expansion via merger.
Former Ashurst and William Fry corporate partner Eavan Saunders will become Dentons’ Dublin managing partner while Matheson’s finance and capital markets partner Peter O’Brien will become the chair of the new office, which will open in the second quarter of 2020 under the verein firm’s UK LLP.
‘A lot of the larger [Irish] firms have a very international referral-based business model which means they are going to be slightly less focused on the approach we want to take, which is about being able to service our existing and multinational clients and take our platform to the Irish market,’ UK and Middle East chief executive Jeremy Cohen told Legal Business. ‘We felt that building the team ourselves was the best way forward.’
He added the firm had been looking at the Irish market for two-three years: ‘It’s a vibrant market, particularly in the areas we play in strongly: financial services, funds, aviation finance, but also more and more in tech and real estate.’
Saunders said she expected to have a 50-lawyer, full-service team in her office ‘in the not too distant future’: ‘This is not a niche sector play: the ambition is to build a leading international firm. What was very attractive about the Dentons platform is that it’s not a Brexit play. The ambition is greater.’
A number of firms have launched in Ireland in the nearly four years since Britain voted to quit the European Union in June 2016, including Shepherd and Wedderburn, Clyde & Co, Fieldfisher, DLA Piper, Lewis Silkin, Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons.
Moving East, Squire Patton Boggs will pick up the bulk of Winston’s former ten-lawyer Dubai team, including its Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman, just over three years after the M&A veteran joined the firm from White & Case.
Winston’s corporate partner Christopher Skipper and Middle East finance head Shibeer Ahmed will follow Steedman to Squires next week alongside at least four of the firm’s Dubai associates, after the Global 100 top 50 Chicago-bred firm announced it is shutting its only regional branch.
The new additions bring Squires Middle East headcount to around 50 lawyers across four offices, bucking a trend that has seen several Western firms retrench or leave the region altogether over the last few years.
‘We are not a fair-weather player in this market. We have been here and will be here a long time,’ Squires’ United Arab Emirates managing partner Tom Wilson told Legal Business. ‘There have been a number of firms that have opened in the Middle East just before or just after the financial crisis, either capitalising on the economic boom in the region or trying to insulate from difficulties in other markets and some of them are retrenching or refocusing – that’s not us.’
He added: ‘Our presence in the region dates back 40 years through historic relationships and representations of governments and government entities in the Gulf. [Legacy] Patton Boggs was established in the early 60s with the goal of acting for newly minted countries in their relationships with other government and global organisations. Our presence in the Middle East is rooted in more than just the latest economic boom, it’s rooted in deep, long-lasting relationships that carry on.’
The move brings to an end Winston’s quick rise and fall in the region. It launched in the Middle East in March 2015 with the appointment of Stephen Jurgenson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as part of a 15-lawyer hire from the firm. The following year it added Steedman from White & Case, who had previously been legacy Norton Rose’s senior Middle East partner until 2011.
But several major law firms have been retrenching in the Middle East after overinvesting during the oil boom in the 2000s, with Abu Dhabi a primary target. Between 2015 and 2017, firms including Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons, Latham & Watkins, Vinson & Elkins and Herbert Smith Freehills closed their doors to focus on Dubai, just 100km away. Weil Gotshal & Manges left the region altogether in February 2017.
Winston chair Tom Fitzgerald said the firm’s clients were located ‘throughout the Middle East and have cross-border legal needs that reach beyond Dubai – particularly into London’ and that the move equated to a ‘centralisation of resources’ allowing the firm to service clients more effectively.
Finally and further to the East, Cooley has confirmed plans to launch its sixteenth global office in Singapore, moving two of its partners to the city state.
Hired last year from Gunderson Dettmer, corporate specialist Ferish Patel will relocate from Hong Kong to become the partner in charge of the new outpost, while emerging company and venture capital co-chair Matthew Bartus is moving from Silicon Valley.
San Francisco-bred Cooley has picked up the pace of its international expansion lately off the back of booming business in its West Coast tech heartlands, its global revenue surging 14% to $1.23bn in 2018.
Baker McKenzie is pushing on with its profitability drive having picked Buenos Aires for its fourth business service centre some five months after putting an estimated 350 London-based support staff under consultation.
On the other side of the Pacific in an unusually expansive move, Cooley has today (12 March) confirmed it will open in Hong Kong after hiring Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s corporate partner Will Cai.
Bakers’ new Buenos Aires global services centre will open in 2020 as an independent entity and employ 200 people led by director Gabriel Pardo. Next year the firm will also open its North American low-cost hub in Tampa, Florida, which will host 300 roles.
The firm announced the North American centre within weeks of putting all of its London professional and business services (PBS) staff under consultation as it kicked off a three-year global reorganisation of its services delivery.
‘The legal industry is facing increasing competition and challenges,’ said a spokesperson for the firm. ‘This demands faster, commercially sound responses, more competitive prices, better quality, continuous innovation and higher levels of business knowledge for clients.’
Increasing profitability is a long-stated aim of the firm, which has an unofficial goal to bring profit per equity partner (PEP) to $2m. It made significant headway in that direction last year, as partner profits rose 13% to $1.44m amid 8% revenue growth to $2.9bn.
The centres in Tampa and Buenos Aires follow the opening of a service hub in Manila in 2000 and in Belfast in 2015.
Meanwhile, Cooley’ Hong Kong office will be the firm’s third in Asia and 15th worldwide, with the launch announced a few weeks after it opened a second European base in Brussels.
‘We have been talking about expanding in Asia for a while,’ Cooley’s London managing partner Justin Stock told Legal Business, pointing to the firm’s launches in Beijing last year and Shanghai in 2011.
The office will initially be focused on capital markets work with a small team led by US and Hong Kong-qualified Cai, who had been a partner at Skadden since 2014. ‘Hong Kong’s capital markets, particularly around life sciences and tech companies, is becoming really important, and given the success we have in both those sectors we need to be in Hong Kong,’ added Stock. ‘It was a relatively easy decision.’
The firm will also be looking at venture funds and investment funds, and Stock said he expected it to add several partners and lawyers quite quickly, although it will remain below the 50-lawyer mark in the short term.
Starting the year with two international office launches in as many months is highly unusual for Cooley, whose partnership has traditionally been conservative when it comes to expanding out of the US.
But its recent financial performance confirms it is a good time to invest. The firm’s revenue rose 14% to $1.23bn in 2018, while PEP grew 14% to $2.4m.
Cooley’s London branch has recorded another year of double-digit revenue growth as its top line grew 16% to $66.7m, four years after its launch.
For the second year in a row, the City office outpaced the Palo Alto-bred firm’s global revenue growth, as the latter rose 14% from $1.07bn to $1.23bn. Global profit per equity partner also grew 14% to $2.4m, while revenue per lawyer was up 8% to $1.3m.
The revenue growth in the London office follows last year’s eye-catching 22% hike to $57.5m, and means its City offering now accounts for the 5% of the firm’s global revenue. An upbeat London managing partner Justin Stock spoke of ‘another fantastic year’ for the firm. ‘Our capital markets practice was a standout. M&A, both in London and the US, was pretty good.’
Discussing the performance of the London office, Stock pointed to the fact that double-digit growth had been achieved ‘without a huge growth on the lateral front – it’s about the existing team having a fantastic year.’
Lawyer headcount of the London office rose 19% to 95, up from 80 at the end of 2017. It counted 29 partners at the end of last year. The firm added three partners laterally in 2018, hiring IP specialist Charlie Winckworth from Hogan Lovells in January, adding David Wilson from Davis Polk & Wardwell to its tax team in May, and Michal Berkner from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom to its M&A practice in February. The London office also saw the first three partner promotions in its history, effective at the start of 2019.
Around 30% of City revenue came from the firm’s US client base. Mandates included representing UK IT company Endava on its $126.8m IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Highlights for the firm globally included opening its second Chinese office in Beijing in January last year, following the launch in Shanghai in 2011. ‘China had a good year. Both offices were really busy,’ said Stock. ‘I would not be surprised if we do something else in the Far East this year.’
The firm started the New Year with another office launch, opening its first continental European base in Brussels . Cooley continues to look at Germany as the next step in its European expansion, but Stock said it was unlikely to open there this year.
Two other expansive US firms announced strong revenue growth in their City outposts this week. White & Case’s City revenue was up 7% to $350m, while Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy posted a substantive 25% revenue hike for its City branch to $156m.
For more on Cooley’s London base, see Global London Focus: Cooley (£)
Four years after launching in London, West Coast US firm Cooley is to launch its second European base in Brussels.
The firm announced today (4 February) it has hired experienced competition partner Alexander Israel from leading German independent Noerr to lead the opening of its fourteenth branch worldwide. ‘Expanding Cooley’s presence in the European Union has long been a key component of our growth strategy,’ said chief executive Joe Conroy, adding that opening in the Belgian capital would strengthen the firm’s ability to support clients ‘particularly with the uncertainty of the Brexit environment’.
London competition partner Becket McGrath will also support the firm’s new base, splitting his time between the City and Brussels. For Israel this will be his second Brussels launch, having helped set up Noerr’s Belgian base in 2014 after the firm hired him from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr. He was also previously at Covington & Burling and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Israel told Legal Business: ‘The plan is to grow the office and go beyond antitrust [adding] privacy and data protection.’
London managing partner Justin Stock said that Brexit played a part in speeding up plans rather than being the core reason for the launch: ‘Brussels and continental Europe have been on the cards for a long time. It is something Cooley has been looking at since before even opening in London. Antitrust and data protection are core to our main client base, and you have to be able to service them in Brussels. It was an easy decision. We decided to wait for the right people and Alexander is a fantastic start.’
The Brussels launch and a first mainland Europe office is a significant step for Cooley as its partnership has long been cautious when it comes to expanding out of the US. London required much persuasion of a sceptical US partnership by Conroy, until in 2015 the firm hired a 55-lawyer team from Morrison & Foerster and Edwards Wildman Palmer to finally open in the City.
The London branch has since achieved sustained turnover growth. In 2017, while the firm grew its top line 10% to $1.07bn, its London office saw turnover leap by 22% to $57.5m. It recently hired IP partner Charlie Winckworth from Hogan Lovells .
And, while the firm opened its second Chinese base in Beijing last year, following a launch in Shanghai in 2011, its other ten offices are all in the States.
While US firms have been opening offices with an antitrust focus in Brussels for the past 50 years, there have been a few UK or US launches in the Belgian capital over the last two years, largely prompted by the Brexit vote. Bristows opened in November 2017, in a move that joint managing partner Marek Petecki said was about ‘addressing the challenges of Brexit’ . Sullivan & Cromwell launched in May 2017, while Macfarlanes set up a Belgian outpost in January that year after hiring a competition team from the ailing European arm of King & Wood Mallesons.
Eversheds Sutherland has landed a major role on the administration of Formula 1 team Force India as Cooley advises a UK IT company on its $126.8m IPO and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) acts on a $388m Philippines agribusiness deal.
Finance partner Jamie Leader led Eversheds as it represented Brockstone Limited, the services company linked to Force India driver Sergio Pérez, on a High Court administration application intended to safeguard the jobs of 400 employees.
With the application approved, Eversheds will now advise administrators Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory on the management of Force India.
Force India’s financial crisis comes as its team principal, Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, fights a worldwide freezing order and is also attempting to ward off an effort by India to extradite him from Britain to answer fraud charges.
According to Leader, it was a challenging mandate for the Eversheds team due to the timescale; the administration application was made on 20 July with the hearing taking place a week later on 27 July.
The hearing was also subject to a last-ditch intervention from soft drink company Rich Energy, which had a £30m cash injection rejected by the court.
Leader told Legal Business: ‘Most of the major stakeholders felt that the team be put under the control of independent professionals to solve its financial problems. The company was under the control of directors who were not in a position to support it. It’s really important that we were able to save 400 jobs.’
Elsewhere, Cooley has represented UK IT company Endava on its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The listing saw Endava issue 6.3 million shares at $20 each, giving the flotation an overall value of $126.8m.
A transatlantic team including Boston partner Nicole Brookshire, Reston, Virginia-based partner Richard Segal and London partner Ed Lukins picked up the instruction.
Lukins told Legal Business: ‘It is a first in terms of a UK plc going straight for a US listing with a dual-share class structure, similar to that employed by Snap and Google. Enhanced voting rights are not a feature of European markets, but afford management greater flexibility to execute Endava’s stated strategy.’
Davis Polk & Wardwell also landed a role on the listing, advising bookrunners Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.
Finally, HSF has exercised its foreign law alliance with Singapore firm Prolegis to advise on a $338m deal financing.
The firm acted for a bank syndicate as it financed Philippines company AEV International’s buyout of Gold Coin Management Holdings, one of Asia’s predominant agribusiness companies. The syndicate consisted of DBS Bank, Mizuho Bank, MUFG Bank and Standard Chartered.
HSF partner and head of Asia finance Adrian Cheng led for the firm, alongside a team of associates.
US laterals defined last week’s international recruitment round, with Baker Botts leading the way with a strategic hire from American powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis. Capital markets partner Justin Hoffman joined the firm in its Houston office, after spending two years as a partner at Kirkland.
Hoffman’s practice focuses on debt and equity capital market transactions, as well as corporate governance and compliance. Speaking to Legal Business, Hoffman explained the rationale for his move.
‘Baker Botts is a very established name in Houston. It has a very broad corporate practice, representing both issuers and underwriters. My practice is a perfect fit here.’
Moving to the West Coast, in Los Angeles Cooley further expanded its global tax practice with the hire of Alexander Lee from McDermott Will & Emery. Lee had previously spearheaded McDermott’s tax practice as a partner and focuses his practice on national and global transactional tax matters as well as private mergers and acquisitions.
‘Alexander’s deep knowledge of international transactional tax work further strengthens Cooley’s offerings for established industry giants and disruptive startups alike,’ said Mike Lincoln, chair of Cooley’s global business department. ‘Alexander has the wealth of experience needed to meet increasingly complex tax demands on large, cross-border deals.’
Rounding off the US moves, DLA also made a play in Los Angeles, announcing the hire of Levi Heath from Barnes & Thornburg where he had worked since 2011. As a partner at Barnes, Heath focused on civil and commercial litigation, including toxic tort and product liability defence. Heath will now boost the litigation capabilities of DLA on the West Coast where the firm has made a series of hires after completing a merger with Los Angeles-based boutique Liner last October.
Dentons meanwhile added to its Scottish bench with a hire in Glasgow, as Roddy Harrison joins the firm’s private client and charities team in the UK tax department. Harrison arrives at Dentons from BTO Solicitors where he headed the private client practice and was a partner for over 15 years. He has experience advising private clients and high net worth individuals on personal and business matters, including capital taxes planning and estate planning.