Legal Business

Life During Law: Adam Plainer

Life During Law: Adam Plainer

I didn’t want to be a lawyer. My father wouldn’t let me go to RADA. Acting is what I wanted to do but people from Leeds in 1984 didn’t go to acting school. My favourite uncle said: ‘You’re going to be a lawyer’. So I jumped on a conveyor belt and ended up becoming one.

My father was a taxi driver and mum was a housewife. All our holidays were in Blackpool, St Anne’s and Scarborough. Now everyone’s only allowed to go to those places.

Legal Business

‘Reloaded, but not in time’: Dechert defends revenue and profit dip as Mayer Brown inches past $1.5bn turnover

‘Reloaded, but not in time’: Dechert defends revenue and profit dip as Mayer Brown inches past $1.5bn turnover

As the financial reporting season for Global 100 firms gathers pace, some less eye-catching financial results have emerged, with Dechert seeing a 6% revenue and profit reversal and Mayer Brown growing turnover only marginally to exceed $1.5bn.

Mayer Brown grew global revenue a sedate 2% to $1.52bn from just shy of $1.5bn last year when the firm recorded 7% revenue growth, while revenue per lawyer saw a slight 1% dip to $900,000 in 2020. Profit per equity partner (PEP) numbers were more heartening, climbing 11% to $2m from $1.8m in 2019 in the context of a 2% uptick in partners to 657 from 646 last year. Total lawyer headcount increased 3% to 1,685 from 1,632 in 2019.

Chairman Paul Theiss was bullish despite the slower pace of growth, commenting:  ‘For Mayer Brown, 2020 was first and foremost about taking care of our clients as their trusted adviser and business partner, and about taking care of one another and our families during a difficult year. Against that backdrop, from a financial standpoint 2020 marked our eighth consecutive year of revenue growth, with a 75% increase in PEP during that period.’

Mayer Brown does not divulge its City performance. However, London managing partner Sally Davies noted that the office held up well and made a ‘significant contribution to the firm’s global results’.

Speaking to Legal Business recently, Davies was bullish about the office’s strategy and lateral additions in a challenging year. ‘We are quite clear on strategy, it hasn’t changed as a result of the pandemic. We are focused on finance, private equity, complex, high-stakes disputes, white collar and investigations. The addition of Trevor Borthwick from Allen & Overy has added gravitas to our banking and finance team.’

She also pointed to the hire of transactional real estate partner Simon Price from Linklaters and restructuring partner Barry Cosgrave from K&L Gates, all of whom she says have hit the ground running.

Davies was characteristically upbeat and insisted there are upsides to the coronavirus crisis. ‘My personal ambition is to not lose the positives we’ve gained and not to drift back to where we were before. In terms of ESG, we didn’t really need to do so much travel. The compensation process was more efficient by doing it remotely. I’m hopeful it will change the way we do business development so that we are more focused on what clients want and not what we think they want.’

Elsewhere, Dechert experienced a tougher year, revealing a 5.7% revenue drop in 2020 to $1.07bn from $1.14bn as PEP declined in kind to $2.8m from $3m in 2019. RPL saw a 4% decrease to $1.12m from $1.17m last year, as the number of equity partners remained flat at 154 and total lawyer headcount stood at  960 compared with 974 in 2019.

Dechert CEO Henry Nassau nevertheless defended the firm’s position: ‘We have seen 10 years of steady growth at an average annual rate of 5%. 2019 stood out with 11% revenue growth. 2020 was the third year with revenue greater than $1bn. The second half of 2020 was spectacular and this continued through into early 2021, with year-to-date revenue up 12%, and billings are up 16%. The 2020 drag was caused for a couple of reasons in the first half of the year. Over 20 matters were postponed due to court closures and two huge litigation matters drew to a close at the same time. We reloaded, but not in time for the snapshot when these figures were taken.’

The firm globally has won a number of significant mandates, including advising Cerberus on its private equity strategy in the US, Europe and Asia, including the sale of Covis to Apollo. It also counts KKR as a key client across real estate finance, asset-backed and fund finance, private equity, permanent capital, tax and litigation.

Dechert has made a concerted effort to bolster its financial restructuring group of late, with heavyweight Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Adam Plainer joining as global co-chair of the group on 1 March. The firm also added London Shearman & Sterling restructuring partners Solomon Noh and Alastair Goldrein in 2020.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Expansive Goodwin makes another City tech play as Dechert and Quinn hire further afield

Revolving doors: Expansive Goodwin makes another City tech play as Dechert and Quinn hire further afield

Following a string of hires to expand its London office this year, Goodwin Procter has again added to its City technology and life sciences practice with the hire of partner Ali Ramadan from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Ramadan has experience in venture capital, cross-border M&A and private equity transactions for technology businesses. He acts for start-ups, high-growth companies and investors operating in the technology, fintech, proptech and digital media industries.

Goodwin has been in full-on expansion mode in the City in recent months, in July adding a significant string to its bow in the form of a four-partner technology and life sciences team from Taylor Wessing.

That team hire of Taylor Wessing’s head of life sciences Malcolm Bates, David Mardle, Tim Worden and Adrian Rainey was another step in Goodwin’s stated ambition to bolster its London bench in this specialist sector.

Ramadan told Legal Business: ‘The attraction to Goodwin was really their technology platform. It’s a great firm with a great reputation in tech, at the cutting edge of all these deals. I’m looking forward to working together with UK and US teams in terms of helping to build out the lifecycle tech practice here in London.’

Co-chair of Goodwin’s technology practice Anthony McCusker told Legal Business: ‘We’ve seen the lifecycle practice in London and Europe develop closely to how we see it in the US.

‘We think we’re well positioned to gain market share and continue to be active. Investors and companies look to the people that are best positioned to help them. Our expectation is that if there’s less work to spread around, they’ll continue to work with a firm like ours. Whether there’s a slowdown in the market or not we think that not being aggressive to build for what the market needs would be a big mistake,’ McCusker added.

Also acquisitive recently has been Dechert, with the Philadelphia-headquartered outfit hiring Philip Dowsett to its private equity, corporate and investment funds practice in Dubai.

Dowsett was previously a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Dubai and is a seasoned lawyer in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity investments, disposals, restructuring and takeovers, as well as corporate governance and investment fund structuring.

He has represented and advised numerous private equity groups in the region over the last ten years, with clients including Dubai International Capital, NBK Capital Partners, Abraaj, Amanat Holdings, Greenstone Equity Partners and Sico Trucial.

Dowsett told Legal Business: ‘On the private equity, M&A and funds side, there’s really no better firm on those practices than Dechert in the region. The real estate practice is one of the leading ones in the region.’

Regional managing partner Chris Sioufi told Legal Business: ‘The market has been more difficult for the last two years in the region because of the geopolitical tensions. We have seen a slowdown in foreign money coming into the region but we have positioned ourselves to be able to take advantage of outflows of money and assist our regional clients who are either setting up or investing in funds in other jurisdictions or doing acquisitions out of the region.’

The hire of Dowsett follows those of real estate partners Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood last year in Dubai.

Elsewhere, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hired international arbitration partner Mark McNeill in New York at the expense of the London office of Shearman & Sterling.

McNeill has experience in advocacy and representing companies and states in numerous commercial and investment treaty arbitrations. He focuses on intellectual property, technology, nuclear construction, pharmaceuticals, business combinations, oil & gas, taxation, mining, insurance, and reinsurance.

McNeill told Legal Business: ‘Quinn Emanuel has some of the best trial lawyers in the world. If you like going to trial then it’s just a great place to be.

‘There’s a remarkable geographic shift to Asia in particular. You have more disputes arising from parties based in Asia. More cases in Africa and a lot of infrastructure projects which inevitably are giving rise to disputes. I see mining claims and still very high oil & gas claims,’ McNeill added.

Shoosmiths also grew its real estate team with the hire of planning and development partner Karen Howard from DLA Piper. She has experience in strategic planning on large regeneration schemes and advises across sectors including residential, offices, industrial, retail, hotels and leisure.

Howard commented: ‘I joined Shoosmiths because what motivates me is the ethos of teamwork here and pulling together with my colleagues across the UK. The people here are super-friendly and it’s inspiring to join Shoosmiths at a time when the firm is growing.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dechert makes hires from Sidley and Hill Dickinson expands its commodities team

Revolving doors: Dechert makes hires from Sidley and Hill Dickinson expands its commodities team

The lateral hires market has seen significant moves recently with Dechert hiring more partners from Sidley Austin, Crowell & Moring making another hire from Squire Patton Boggs and Hill Dickinson expanding the firm’s commodities team with two partners.

Dechert added to its global finance and litigation practices with the recruitment of Aparna Sehgal and Simon Fawell from Sidley, following structured finance partner John McGrath, who recently joined from the same firm. Furthermore, Dorothy Cory-Wright was appointed last year as head of disputes and is also from Sidley.

Sehgal is the fourth finance partner Dechert has hired in the last nine months and works with clients from financial institutions, alternative capital providers and corporates on issues concerning multi-jurisdictional transactions, intercreditor issues, acquisition and financing of performing and non-performing loan portfolios, insolvency and enforcement strategies.

Co-leader of the global finance practice group Richard Jones commented: ‘Aparna is a strong addition to our global finance team. Her extensive experience in real estate finance complements our existing capability and strengthens our offering to our financial services clients.’

Gus Black, global co-chair of Dechert’s financial services group, added: ‘Her appointment, which closely follows the additions of John McGrath and Simon Fawell, supports Dechert’s strategic growth plans in London to meet growing client demand.’

Crowell & Moring once again hired from Squire Patton Boggs, recruiting litigation partner Laurence Winston to co-head the firm’s international disputes resolution group. His appointment comes amid a turbulent period for Squires’ London arm, which has been depleted by a number of departures since the beginning of the year, most of which have decamped to Crowell & Moring.

Financial litigation partner and former City head Robert Weekes left for Crowell & Morning in January, and was later joined by insolvency partners Cathryn Williams and Paul Muscutt. Energy partner Robin Baillie and finance partner Andrew Knight also left Squires for Crowell & Moring in February.

Elsewhere, Hill Dickinson announced the hire of Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott from Eversheds Sutherland into the commodities team. This follows the recent hire of litigation partner Beth Bradley, previously of Clyde & Co, and takes the number of partners in the group to nine.

Aspinal has expertise in dispute resolution, transactional matters covering trade finance as well as physical trading of steel and non-ferrous metals, shipping fraud, asset tracing and seizure actions. Sinnott, a commodities lawyer in both the physical and derivatives markets working mainly for energy and metals industry clients, focuses on transactional and regulatory matters as well as disputes resolution.

Hill Dickinson head of commodities Jeff Isaacs told Legal Business: ‘We’ve seen a marked uptick in commodities work, particularly on the soft agricultural commodities front where we have a particular specialism. We have plenty to do and we have a strong influx of work and we’re confident about the future.’

Stewarts hired David Savage to its financial crime department from SG Kleinwort Hambros Bank, where he was group senior sanctions officer. Savage follows Richard Kovalevsky QC, who established the firm’s financial crime department in July 2018, and brings experience working in the financial crime within a bank.

Savage told Legal Business: ‘Financial crime compliance is becoming more and more costly. Regulators have cottoned on to the fact that this is a big ticket business that they can extract large sums of money, by way of fines, from various companies. It’s going to be, in the near-term, a huge cost for anyone involved in international business to combat financial crime.’

Finally, DLA Piper also announced a hire in the form of Marine Lallemand, who will join the litigation and regulatory practice in Paris from Orrick Rambaud Martel.

muna.abdi@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Global London Focus: Dechert

Global London Focus: Dechert

London headcount: 169 lawyers: 44 partners (26 equity, 18 non-equity)

Lawyer headcount change since 2013: +29%

London office management committee: Gus Black (chair) (pictured), Jason Butwick, Chris Field

Office specialities: private equity; deal finance and financial regulation; litigation/investigations.

Legal Business

Dechert rebuilds City leadership with dealmaker Field as Black takes helm

Dechert rebuilds City leadership with dealmaker Field as Black takes helm

Dechert has taken strides to fortify its depleted London management team, adding private equity partner Chris Field and naming Gus Black as its chair.

Funds specialist Black (pictured) is global co-chair of Dechert’s financial services group and has been a member of the London management committee since its inception in 2016. Corporate partner Field was hired into Dechert’s London office after 11 years at Kirkland & Ellis in October 2017 along with tax partner Jane Scobie. They followed a path trodden by finance partner John Markland who left Kirkland for Dechert the previous year.

The firm’s London leadership was dealt a blow when the committee was halved from four members to two at the start of this year. Former chair and capital markets head Camille Abousleiman stepped down to take a job as minister of labour for the government of Lebanon after international trade and government regulation co-chair Miriam Gonzalez resigned last October when her husband, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, took a job at Facebook in Silicon Valley. Abousleiman remains as of counsel at the firm.

Employment lawyer Jason Butwick, who acted as London managing partner from 2012 until 2016 when the committee was formed, is the third London leader.

The Philadelphia-bred firm is in expansion mode in London, making up three partners in its latest 16-strong promotion round , effective of 1 January 2019. It marked Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

Earlier this year, the firm invested in its European funds business with the hire of Marianna Tothova in London from Ashurst and Carol Widger from Maples and Calder as the managing partner of its Dublin office.

The City office has also seen a decent run of lateral hires in recent months, recruiting Sidley Austin’s London co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice last July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim and last September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team.

The firm recently announced 2018 revenues of $1.02bn – an eight consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

Black said: ‘London is a strategic priority and focus of investment for the firm and Chris’ appointment to the London management committee reflects this commitment. Chris is already helping to drive significant expansion of our private equity practice in London and he will play a key role as we continue to grow in London.’

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dechert bolsters European funds team with key City and Dublin hires

Dechert bolsters European funds team with key City and Dublin hires

Dechert has ramped up investment in its European funds business with a pair of hires, including Marianna Tothova in London from Ashurst.

The hire of Tothova, which comes amid a pacey recruitment drive for the US firm in London in recent months, coincides with that of Carol Widger from Maples and Calder as the managing partner of its Dublin office.

Luxembourg-qualified Tothova will work in Dechert’s London and Luxembourg branches and is focused on private funds. Most recently counsel at Ashurst in London, she previously worked in the investment management group at Linkaters and is experienced in the structuring of regulated and unregulated investment funds and regulatory issues.

Widger, meanwhile,  specialises in advising fund promoters and fund managers on the creation and management of investment fund in a career spanning 20 years. She is a former chair of Irish Fund’s legal working group and is the current chair and founding member of the Dublin location for 100 Women in Finance. Dechert lays claim to having the first major onshore transatlantic funds practice in Dublin.

Dechert’s financial services group spans the key European funds domiciles of UK, Luxembourg, Ireland, France and Germany, as well as the US, Middle East and Asia. The firm represents 23 of the world’s top 25 largest global asset management firms and 41 of the top 50 private debt firms.

Gus Black, global co-chair of the firm’s financial services group, said of the hires: ‘Many of our clients have business spanning Ireland and Luxembourg, and these appointments signal our commitment to both of these important fund centres as well as our jurisdiction-neutral advice model.’

Black told Legal Business: ‘We absolutely plan to hire more funds specialists. This is part of a growth strategy and there is strong demand in Europe and clear potential to add to our bench across jurisdictions. Funds represents one fifth of the firm globally, both in headcount and revenue. It is a huge part of our DNA.’

He added that the firm views London as a key growth centre and an important strategic location for investment, irrespective of Brexit, promising more laterals in 2019.

The firm last month sustained its recent investment drive in London with the promotion to partner of three in the City amid a 16-strong global round . The move was Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

Recent lateral hires in London have included Sidley Austin’s local co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice last July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim, while in September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team.

Dechert recorded 2017 revenues of $977.9m in a seventh consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Commitment to London’: Dechert makes up three in the City amid 16-strong partner promotions round

‘Commitment to London’: Dechert makes up three in the City amid 16-strong partner promotions round

Dechert is continuing a recent spate of investment in its London office with the promotion to partner of three in the City amid a scaled up 16-strong global round.

The Philadelphia-headquartered firm has continued its commercial litigation push by making up Matthew Banham and Timothy Bowden from its white-collar crime bench in London, while tax lawyer Daniel Hawthorne has also been promoted.

The move marks Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

The City office has also seen a pacey run of lateral hires recently, recruiting Sidley Austin’s London co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice in July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim and in September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team. The firm chalked up 2017 revenues of $977.9m in a seventh consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

London management committee member Jason Butwick said: ‘These promotions reflect the firm’s commitment to London and its importance to the firm. Our new partners represent the next generation of Dechert lawyers and further strengthen our global capability.’

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

The full list of partner promotions, which take effect on 1 January 2019, are:

Matthew Banham, white-collar crime, London

Timothy Bowden, white-collar crime, London

Matthew Carter, corporate and securities, Washington DC

Michael Darby, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Christopher Desmond, finance and real estate, Boston

Darshak Dholakia, international trade, Washington DC

Matthew Fischer, finance and real estate, New York

Sam Gilbert, finance and real estate, Boston

Gennady Gorel, finance and real estate, Philadelphia

Daniel Hawthorne, tax, London

Angela Liu, securities litigation, Chicago

Stephen Pratt, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Anne-Charlotte Rivière, corporate and securities, Paris

Erica Stein, international arbitration, Brussels

Jonathan Stott, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Yang Wang, corporate and securities, Hong Kong

 

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

In a week of European-focused lateral hires, firms have expanded their German ranks. Dechert hired in Frankfurt, Watson Farley & Williams in Hamburg, and McDermott Will and Emery in Dusseldorf.

Separately, in London, Rosenblatts Solicitors appointed a new commercial litigation partner.

Dechert has appointed Joachim Kayser as a partner to its Frankfurt financial services team. He joined from PwC in Germany where he was head of alternative investments, asset management and regulatory.

Kayser’s practice focuses on legal and operational advice for investment funds, their asset managers, intermediaries and institutional investors on regulatory and tax matters.

Dechert’s Frankfurt managing partner, Achim Putz said the addition of Joachim and his team in Frankfurt will ‘nicely complement our existing German practices in Bonn, Frankfurt and Munich.’

Watson Farley expanded its Hamburg office with the hire of corporate partner Bjorn-Axel Diβars from Latham & Watkins to its energy and infrastructure practice, bring the team to 38 lawyers. Diβars acts on transactional and disputes work, focusing on the oil & gas, international trade and maritime sectors.

Watson Farley’s Germany head, Marcus Bechtel, said the addition of Björn-Axel [Diβars] and the ‘expansion of our German energy and infrastructure practice is an important element of the firm’s growth strategy both internationally and in Hamburg specifically.’

McDermott also bolstered its German practice in Dusseldorf with the hire of antitrust partner Daniel von Brevern. He joins from Linklaters. He has advised on cases such as Vodafone’s $10bn merger with Kabel Deutschland in 2013, and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets on the acquisition of Open Grid Europe in 2012. He has experience in the banking, insurance, energy, pharmaceutical, healthcare and automotive sectors. His clients include Bregal Capital and Energy Exchange.

McDermott’s Germany head, Norbert Schulte said the firm’s antitrust and competition practice has ‘seen a substantial development over the last few years. We are convinced that with Daniel’s contribution this trend will continue.’

In London, litigation partner Donna Goldsworthy joined Rosenblatts from Irwin Mitchell, where she led the commercial litigation team. Donna specialises in F1 and Formula E sports, along with extensive financial services and construction experience.

Legal Business

Signature Litigation client ENRC to appeal as High Court rules in favour of SFO in legal privilege claim

Signature Litigation client ENRC to appeal as High Court rules in favour of SFO in legal privilege claim

The High Court has ruled that documents prepared by mining giant Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) in relation to a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation were not protected by legal professional privilege (LPP).

Signature Litigation client ENRC has announced its intention to appeal the decision, signalling an extension to the long-running dispute with the SFO, which began in 2013.

The ruling relates to a criminal investigation by the SFO which alleged fraud, bribery and corruption on the part of ENRC. As part of the investigation, the SFO requested that ENRC produce relevant documents. ENRC claimed these documents were protected by LPP and were therefore justified in resisting the request.

But in the judgment, Justice Andrews ruled that the SFO was warranted in its request: ‘There is a recognised public interest in the SFO being able to go about its business of investigating and prosecuting crime; and the sort of evidence which one would expect to be found in the Disputed Documents is likely to be of considerable value to its current investigation.’

An ENRC spokesman stated: ‘We are very surprised by this ruling and we will appeal today’s decision because the effect of this judgment is that a party who wishes to consult a lawyer in relation to an SFO dawn raid or criminal investigation is not entitled to the protections afforded by litigation privilege.’

ENRC was represented by Signature Litigation partner Graham Huntley, who instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Richard Lissack QC and Tamara Oppenheimer in addition to Outer Temple Chambers’ Saaman Pourghadiri. Eversheds Sutherland acted on behalf of the SFO, and instructed Bright Line Law’s Jonathan Fisher QC and Blackstone Chambers’ James Segan and Eesvan Krishnan.

Huntley commented: ‘This judgment for the first time signals that litigation privilege will be unlikely to protect that legal work, meaning that genuine attempts by clients to investigate allegations will have to be embarked upon knowing that privilege will not cover whatever is produced.’

The ruling follows a decision by the senior courts costs office to allow ENRC to have multimillion-pound bills from Dechert assessed after the mining company claimed it had been overcharged. ENRC initially hired Dechert in 2011 in relation to the company’s self-reporting process ahead of the SFO’s investigation.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk