Legal Business

Revolving doors: DLA wins back Proskauer real estate partner as Macfarlanes and Dentons make City hires

Revolving doors: DLA wins back Proskauer real estate partner as Macfarlanes and Dentons make City hires

City lateral recruitment picked up pace again last week as DLA Piper won back a real estate partner from Proskauer Rose, Macfarlanes hired for its financial services team and Dentons strengthened its employment bench.

Joanne Owen rejoined her old firm DLA after a three and a half-year stint in Proskauer’s City corporate team, having previously worked at DLA for nearly 20 years. She advises on institutional and corporate property matters and cross-border corporate real estate transactions. She has acted for leading private equity houses, sovereign wealth funds and private high net worth investors.

The firm has also added partner Katie Jacobson to its real estate practice in Birmingham from Hogan Lovells. Jacobson, who advises institutional investors across the retail, office and industrial sectors, will join DLA at the end of this month.

Elsewhere, Macfarlanes has hired Eversheds Sutherland financial services partner Andrew Henderson, who is set to join his new firm in early 2020.

Senior partner Charles Martin told Legal Business: ‘Andrew is an outstanding fit for us given his focus on investment management clients. He offers particular expertise in retail funds, AIFMD (alternative investment regulation) and international issues, all of which are important to many of our clients.

‘All regulated financial services businesses are dealing with a huge amount of regulatory change and active intervention from regulators. This impacts our clients in the financial services industry. They look to us for joined up advice spanning all the legal aspects of the sector that matter most to them. This almost always includes regulation and quite often means that they look to us to support them when they make important judgement calls in the regulatory field,’ added Martin.

Dentons has added to its UK people, reward and mobility team in London with the hire of employment partner Purvis Ghani from Stephenson Harwood.

Dentons’ head of UK people, reward and mobility practice, Virginia Allen, commented: ‘With [Purvis’] broad range of experience across multiple areas of employment and discrimination law, his expertise will enhance our offering which handles a full suite of UK employment, pensions, employee benefits and immigration matters for our clients worldwide.’

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright has hired tax partner Florent Trouiller for its Luxembourg office from Dechert. Trouiller has experience in cross boarder private equity and real estate investment and has advised clients on all tax aspects of capital markets and securitisation transactions.

EMEA head of tax at Norton Rose Fulbright, Dominic Stuttaford, commented: ‘In the last few years, Luxembourg’s significance as a jurisdiction for financial institutions has grown, and its tax regime has become more complex. Therefore, a strong tax capability in Luxembourg underpins our pan-European and international tax offering.’

The Luxembourg office opened in June 2017 with three partners and is now operating with more than 18 fee earners across various practice areas.

Finally, Taylor Wessing has hired back its former Dubai head of corporate and co-managing partner Osama Hassan after an eight-year stint at Pinsent Masons. He joins as the firm’s Dubai managing partner and was previously head of the Middle East group and the corporate practice at Pinsent Masons.

Managing partner Shane Gleghorn commented: ‘Osama is widely recognised in the UAE market. We have a long-established platform in Dubai and our international client base has evolved significantly in TMC and private wealth. These are areas that we are known for being strong in and Osama’s experience across family owned businesses and technology in the region are hard to compete with.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

#MeToo: DLA Silicon Valley co-head forced out following sexual assault allegations

#MeToo: DLA Silicon Valley co-head forced out following sexual assault allegations

The co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office has been let go by the firm following accusations of sexual assault by a fellow partner.

In an open letter published earlier this month (2 October), DLA partner Vanina Guerrero alleged that fellow partner Louis Lehot sexually assaulted her multiple times after recruiting her to the firm in September 2018. Lehot was the firm’s co-managing partner of its Silicon Valley office and co-chair of its emerging growth and venture capital practice, with Guerrero detailing four alleged assaults in Shanghai, Brazil, Chicago and Palo Alto.

Lehot was also alleged to have an extreme temper that included shouting and clenching his fists, while Guerrero claims DLA did nothing about her complaints for months and took her off one of her practice’s largest deals after she detailed his conduct in July.

The letter says: ‘I went from working in Hong Kong as general counsel and the top female executive at a global tech company to being abused by Mr Lehot. During my entire career I was known for my intellect, tenacity and confidence. In less than nine months at DLA Piper under Mr Lehot, I became a shell of my former self — a woman who Mr Lehot regularly told me could only get clients because I was attractive.’

Guerrero’s letter, addressed to DLA’s co-chairs Roger Meltzer and Jay Rains, also criticised the firm’s mandatory arbitration policy which she had to undertake before she could go to court: ‘Release me from forced arbitration and allow me to assert my civil claims for assault, battery, sexual harassment and retaliation in our transparent court system,’ she wrote.

DLA has since let go of Lehot. In an email to lawyers and staff last Friday (11 October), Meltzer, Rains and Americas managing partner Stasia Kelly confirmed his departure.

Despite the fact that the allegations have not been substantiated by the investigation to date, the firm has concluded for various reasons that it is in the best interest of the firm that we part ways with Louis Lehot,’ the email said. ‘We understand and share the deep concern about this matter, and would like to be in a position to share more detailed information.  This is an ongoing legal matter, however, and therefore we cannot share further details.’

On the same day, a DLA lawyer who worked in its office as general counsel until mid-2019 published an open letter in support of Guerrero, similarly criticising the mandatory arbitration process and claiming the firm has a ‘culture of intimidation and oppression’: ‘These forced arbitration provisions give sexual predators the opportunity to abuse women without accountability or consequence. But such arbitration agreements also keep DLA’s dirty little secrets . . . well, very secret.’

The firm’s email to its staff continues by claiming it took the complaints with ‘utmost seriousness’ and immediately engaged outside counsel to investigate the matter, before it was made public, and that they are continuing to seek Guerrero’s cooperation with the investigation.

‘We are saddened that this type of allegation has arisen at our firm,’ the email said. ‘We remain steadfastly committed to our zero tolerance policy for harassment in the workplace, and the provision of training, resources and tools so that all lawyers and staff are apprised of our firm-wide protocols. Preserving our culture and guiding principles, and maintaining a safe, happy and healthy workplace is our priority.’

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dentons and Akin Gump double up in London as Squire Patton Boggs offsets loss in the City

Revolving doors: Dentons and Akin Gump double up in London as Squire Patton Boggs offsets loss in the City

A busy week for lateral hires saw Dentons, Akin Gump and Squire Patton Boggs each make City hires as DLA Piper turned to Aviva to expand its pensions team.

Dentons said today (30 September) it had hired M&A and private equity partner Paul Doris from the London office of US firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. He is the firm’s third corporate lateral hire in the last 18 months and advises financial sponsors, particularly in energy and infrastructure and in markets including Spain and Latin America.

Dentons’ UK corporate head David Collins (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Paul’s skillset, sector focus and geographic coverage are all very much aligned to our strategy of building out a diversified corporate transactional practice in the UK which connects with our colleagues across the UK and the Dentons global platform.’

He added: ‘After what felt like a slightly extended summer break and pause in activity after a very busy first half of the year, we are back to high levels of activity across the team.’

Doris follows Dentons announcing last week it had hired restructuring and insolvency partner Richard Pallot-Cook in London. He re-joins from Simmons & Simmons and was previously a partner at Dentons.

Akin Gump, meanwhile, added two partners to its private equity practice, with Shaun Lascelles and Simon Rootsey joining the firm’s London office from Vinson & Elkins.

Partner in charge of Akin Gump’s London office, Sebastian Rice, told Legal Business: ‘We were very impressed with the work they’ve done, culturally they’re a great fit and we hope they will be a strong addition to our corporate team in terms of the clients they advise and the type of work they do.’

Akin Gump also hired finance partner Michael Gustafson to its London office from Pricoa Private Capital, where he was deputy chief legal officer. Gustafson was previously a partner at Bingham McCutchen before its London office joined Akin Gump in 2014.

‘The team who joined from Bingham McCutchen regarded Gustafson incredibly highly and he does very similar work to what we do. He’s coming back and we’re really excited to have him back,’ Rice added.

Squire Patton Boggs went both ways in London with the hire of banking partner Ian Yeo from Herbert Smith Freehills. The firm also lost employment partner Natalie Bellwood, however, to B2B IT services provider DXC Technology, where she becomes global head of employment.

Elsewhere, DLA hired Amrit McLean from Aviva, where she was propositions and sales director, as a partner to launch the firm’s pensions de-risking service. McLean has 13 years’ experience in pensions de-risking and pensions bulk annuity work.

UK head of pensions at DLA Piper Ben Miller told Legal Business: ‘There’s an awful lot of insurance that is being issued. There is a real need within the market for a really strong and comprehensive team led by somebody who has that sector experience and that’s what we’re able to do here.’

Finally, Osborne Clarke made a lateral hire from Thrings, bringing in Steve Schofield to its UK real estate practice, while in Poland, DWF appointed partner Paweł Stykowski as head of insurance in the firm’s Warsaw office. He joins from Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland where he headed the financial services and compliance practice.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Ince appoints London managing partner duo as City players hire globally

Revolving doors: Ince appoints London managing partner duo as City players hire globally

After an eventful few months following its acquisition by Gordon Dadds, Ince has put down some roots with the appointment of Nick Goldstone and Michael Volikas as joint managing partners of the London office.

The move came after Gordon Dadds last month posted a 69% revenue hike from to £52.6m and a 73% rise in profit to £15.2m on the back of its £43m acquisition of Ince.

Ince’s former head of dispute resolution, Goldstone specialises in media-related disputes, reputation management and human rights. Volikas was previously global managing partner for the Ince & Co shipping group where he acted mainly on dispute resolution matters.

Goldstone told Legal Business: ‘We intend to be one of the go-to firms, not just for law, but for professional advice. We think we offer a fairly unique offering and intend to keep growing our sectors.’

He said he intends to move the firm forward and work through all the opportunities that have been created by last year’s merger. The firm aims to build out its core areas of strength in shipping, energy and insurance as well as its corporate, commercial and property sectors.

Goldstone is confident the current political and economic climate will bring in more work. ‘So far as the Strait of Hormuz is concerned and the trade war that’s potentially building up between the United States, China and the sanction issues with Iran – these create problems and opportunities. We are well-equipped to help our existing client base and new clients deal with these issues.’ Goldstone said.

Adrian Biles, the chief executive of both Ince and Gordon Dadds, will focus on the firm’s international outlook.

Meanwhile in Frankfurt, DLA Piper bolstered its tax practice with the hire of Ulf Andresen from PwC where he headed the Frankfurt transfer pricing group and the German financial services transfer pricing group.

Andresen has experience in structuring and implementing cross-border activities, evaluating tax accounting impact and defending these structures in audits. The move is part of DLA’s plan to expand its capabilities in transfer pricing, an area of law which is becoming increasingly important due to changes in the international tax landscape.

Co-managing partner Konrad Rohde told Legal Business: ‘We have a transfer pricing practice already in the UK and China. We’re very strong in terms of transfer pricing in the US and we also have capabilities in Italy. We have a lot of clients that do international reorganisations and transfer pricing is a huge driver for that. We also see a lot of opportunities to interface with other areas we practice in, in particular intellectual property, corporate and also white collar crime.’

‘We think that it will help us grow the practice but also give us an edge in comparison to other firms. If you look at law firms in Germany, very few typically cover transfer pricing. This will really give us a good footprint in the German legal market’ Rohde added.

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, Allen & Overy appointed restructuring lawyer Ian Chapman to the partnership and its Asia Pa00cific restructuring and recovery group. Chapman has over 30 years of experience advising publicly-owned and private companies on complex and high profile restructurings and insolvencies in Asia.

Meanwhile, Burness Paull, has enhanced its tech sector capabilities with the hire of IP, commercial and competition partner Colin Miller from DWF.  He has acted for clients including C-Trip/Skyscanner, Expedia Group, Zoopla, uSwitch and Administrate, as well as the Oil & Gas Technology Centre.

Finally in China, Linklaters’ Shanghai free trade zone joint operation partner Zhao Sheng has hired Vivian Cao to its Beijing competition practice and corporate M&A lawyer Colette Pan to it Shanghai office. Cao has international and domestic competition law experience while Pan specialises in China-facing financial institution, tech and fintech M&A and financial regulation. Both partners join from Fangda Partners and are PRC and New York State qualified.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Comment: Too much jam today for partners yet the future of law will need long-term investment

Comment: Too much jam today for partners yet the future of law will need long-term investment

A little over five years ago Legal Business produced a cover feature dubbed ‘How to improve a law firm in 17 easy steps’. The piece – intended as a series of practical proposals to improve the working of law firms – has aged as well as anything printed in these pages.

And while point one – on overhauling lockstep partnerships for the age of global law – has been borne out, it is the second proposal, to phase out full profit distribution models, that is more pressing to the profession. Problems with lockstep are a peculiar challenge for London’s elite. In contrast, the historic model that has prevailed in legal partnerships of distributing the near-entirety of profits to partners annually speaks to an entire industry in danger of tipping itself over a cliff.

We have reached a stage where no-one seriously doubts there are structural challenges looming over major law firms, notably the question of whether legal practices of the future should be primarily investing in the platform or the people. For the firms we chronicle in these pages, people are still winning hands down.

New technology and a rising compliance burden on a global scale raise the likelihood that large markets will emerge for legal providers that can automate much of their service and potentially remake more of their products with more varied groups of professionals.

While many top or boutique law firms can conceivably continue with the current partner-led model, it is less clear whether the great swathe of the mid-market will thrive without considerable reinvention. And as we address this month in our interview with DLA Piper leader Simon Levine and a discussion on new business models, these scenarios suggest many firms will have substantial needs for capital in future. Capital they keep flushing out.

The truth is that it is very rare to find a law firm leader who believes full distribution makes a lick of sense for the industry as a whole or their institution. They simply fear that if they try to change their model – even with relatively modest levels of retention – they will lose core partners to rivals offering jam today. Good for recruiters and mobile prima donnas. Less good for the profession and long-term vision.

If this direct tension between the interests of key talent and the institution sounds familiar, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the conflicts that built up in the investment banking industry ahead of the credit crunch.

That’s not to forecast a comparable fate to the banking crisis – law and banking obviously have as many contrasts as comparisons. But it does speak to a danger that many law firms that could credibly evolve into potent professional services giants (of which DLA tops the list) may not only miss their shot for lack of investment and rigid structures, they could be left behind by new entrants with deeper products.

To squander the many admirable qualities of the legal industry in such circumstances would be bitter. For many law firms, even if initial moves in this direction are modest, ending the quirk of paying out all their profits annually will not only be good for business, it may just unleash their potential.

alex.novarese@legalease.co.uk

See ‘The DLA interview: On this rock I build…

Legal Business

‘Great synergies’: Mayer Brown adds long-awaited restructuring hires with DLA duo

‘Great synergies’: Mayer Brown adds long-awaited restructuring hires with DLA duo

Chicago-bred Mayer Brown has bolstered its restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency (RBI) practice with a double hire from DLA Piper in London.

DLA veterans Michael Fiddy and Amy Jacks join Mayer Brown as co-head of the firm’s global RBI practice and co-head of the firm’s UK RBI practice respectively. Fiddy will lead the global group alongside New York partner Brian Trust and Hong Kong-based partner John Marsden, while Jacks takes on her leadership role alongside partner Devi Shah.

‘We have been looking to strengthen our RBI capability for a long time,’ Mayer Brown London senior partner Sally Davies told Legal Business. ‘Team hires are more successful than individual hires and Michael and Amy have great synergies between them.’

Fiddy built his reputation at DLA Piper as global co-chair of the restructuring group while acting for a number of financial institutions, funds, debtors and creditors. He also served as managing director of Fulham Football Club between 2000 and 2002. Jacks, meanwhile, has advised funds, investment and clearing banks, corporates and insolvency practitioners, while also spearheading DLA Piper’s UK restructuring practice.

Fiddy and Jacks are reunited with former DLA partner Alex Dell, who joined Mayer Brown in 2015 in a bid to enhance the firm’s cross border asset-based lending offering. Dell was one of the pull factors for the pair, while Mayer Brown was familiar with Fiddy and Jacks after being on the other side of the table to the two on various mandates.

‘We have been aware of the reputation of these two in the market for a while and we share a number of clients with them,’ Davies added. ‘We’re continuing to look at strengthening our RBI practice to ensure we’re fully joined up globally.’

It is yet to be confirmed when the pair will start at Mayer Brown.

DLA UK managing partner Liam Cowell commented: ‘Both Michael and Amy have made a significant contribution to our team over the years, and we wish them well for the future. We continue to have a very strong Restructuring practice and are regularly involved in some of the UK’s most high profile and complex restructuring matters reflecting the breadth and quality of our practice.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

DLA global turnover surpasses $2.8bn in second year of growth

DLA global turnover surpasses $2.8bn in second year of growth

DLA Piper added 8% to its global top line in 2018, making for consecutive years of growth following a dip in 2016.

The firm’s global revenue rose to $2.84bn, up on last year’s $2.63bn and continuing a bounce back from when the firm’s total turnover dipped below $2.5bn in 2016 because of exchange rate fluctuations across its international business, which is divided between an international LLP and a US LLP.

Profits per equity partner also rose in 2018, up 7% to $1.87m. Total lawyer numbers rose slightly to 3,702, following drops in each of the previous years, while revenue per lawyer rose 5% to $766,124. Net profit was up 6% to $751m.

DLA’s strong global performance follows growth in the firm’s international LLP, in which growth in the UK business pushed revenue to £919m even as 2017’s cyber-attack took its toll on profit.

The firm’s international (non-US) revenue for the year to 30 April 2018, announced in February, grew £42.2m, or 5%, of which £29m related to the UK business. Stripping out the impact of foreign exchange, however, fee income was up £33.1m, or about 4%.

Growth in UK fee income of about 10% was one of the strongest performances in the firm’s international regions, while Europe and Asia-Pacific saw more modest, single-digit growth. Profit at the international LLP, meanwhile, was up £11.4m to £315.8m.

In February, DLA chief financial officer Paul Edwards told Legal Business the firm’s 2017 cyber incident, which occurred during this year’s results period, had impacted profit. ‘I couldn’t even give you a number on this but I do know it cost us,’ he commented. ‘Had that not happened we’d be talking about, I believe, an even stronger year.’

DLA’s global results follow a slew of US firms announcing strong financial results recently. Last week, Latham & Watkins posted 11% revenue growth to hit £3.386bn in the year after becoming the first law firm to break the $3bn barrier.

hamish.mcnicol@legalbusiness.co.uk

For more on DLA’s ambitions, read Legal Business’ interview with co-chief executive Simon Levine, ‘On this rock I build…’ 

Legal Business

The future of law will need long-term investment

The future of law will need long-term investment

A little over five years ago Legal Business produced a cover feature dubbed ‘How to improve a law firm in 17 easy steps’. The piece – intended as a series of practical proposals to improve the working of law firms – has aged as well as anything printed in these pages.

And while point one – on overhauling lockstep partnerships for the age of global law – has been borne out, it is the second proposal, to phase out full profit distribution models, that is more pressing to the profession. Problems with lockstep are a peculiar challenge for London’s elite. In contrast, the historic model that has prevailed in legal partnerships of distributing the near-entirety of profits to partners annually speaks to an entire industry in danger of tipping itself over a cliff.

Legal Business

The DLA interview: On this rock I build…

The DLA interview: On this rock I build…

Simon Levine (SL), co-chief executive, DLA Piper: I had a bit of fun and looked at the article you wrote on me when I first started [as DLA Piper’s co-chief executive, published in March 2015].

Legal Business (LB): Are you trying to catch us out? Because we got into this job to be inconsistent.

Legal Business

Deal watch: Healthy pickings for Travers and DLA on Unilever’s £150m graze buyout as firms navigate Interserve rescue saga

Deal watch: Healthy pickings for Travers and DLA on Unilever’s £150m graze buyout as firms navigate Interserve rescue saga

Travers Smith and DLA Piper have sated their appetites on The Carlyle Group’s £150m disposal of graze while a raft of advisers sat tight as a further twist in the Interserve saga unfolded.

Unilever last Tuesday (5 February) sealed the deal to acquire ubiquitous healthy snack brand graze, having fended of competition from rival bidders Pepsi and Kellogg in an auction launched in the latter part of last year by Harris Williams.

The buyer, which also owns Marmite, mustard maker Colman’s and Wall’s ice-cream, was reputed to have paid exactly half the £300m asking price for the snack company.

Private equity house Carlyle, which sold graze via its Carlyle European Technology Partners fund, turned to longstanding relationship firm Travers and a team led by partners Ian Shawyer (pictured) and George Weavil. While not an obvious asset to be owned by a tech fund, Shawyer notes that graze, having started life in 2008 as a direct to consumer snack box delivery service, has a tech-based flavour in that it is based on data strategy and uses tech to mine customer preferences of its products.

The company has evolved to stocking the shelves of more than 30,000 UK retailers as well as US shops including Target, Walgreens and 7-Eleven.

Carlyle last year started sounding out the market for a successor fund – Carlyle European Technology Partners IV – with a view to raising €1.3bn to invest in companies with significant growth potential.

While Latham & Watkins is the firm most associated with Carlyle Group for international work, Travers has carved a niche advising the group on European deals.

Bob Bishop, DLA’s global co-chair of corporate, led the team advising Unilever, while Phil Hails-Smith, corporate and commercial partner at Joelson, advised graze’s management.

Meanwhile, the rescue of beleaguered UK construction plc Interserve has encountered a snag. Coinciding last Wednesday (6 February) with Interserve’s agreement in principle of a deleveraging plan that could save it from a Carillion-style collapse, hedge fund investor Coltrane Master Fund sought to leverage its 17% stake to requisition a general meeting that could see most of its directors ousted.

The latest example of shareholder activists making their presence felt on this side of the Atlantic, Coltrane has called for Interserve’s entire board, apart from chief executive Debbie White, to stand down and that David Frauman and Stuart Ross be appointed as directors.

The rescue mission has kept firms including Ashurst, Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld busy for several months. If approved by shareholders, it would involve £480m of new shares issued to lenders in a debt for equity deal aimed at reducing debt from £600m to £275m.

Advising Interserve are an Ashurst corporate team led by Tom Mercer and a Slaughters team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson. A&O is advising the lenders with a team led by Trevor Borthwick, while Akin Gump, led by Barry Russell, is advising the noteholders.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring partner Adam Gallagher is advising the pension trustees of Interserve.

While there are clear parallels with fellow UK construction company Carillion, which fell into liquidation in January 2018, advisers are quick to note that the underlying business of Interserve does not suffer from such severe liquidity shortfalls and has not been subject to the same mismanagement.

‘A similar rescue plan was being considered for Carillion but didn’t work because that business was in far worse shape. This is what it looks like if it is possible to save the company’, said one partner of the Interserve restructuring.

Howard Kennedy and Browne Jacobson also last week won mandates acting on HMV’s rescue buyout by Canadian record company Sunrise Records & Entertainment Limited.

The move follows the music retailer’s demise into administration at the end of last year when Addleshaw Goddard partners Fraser Ritson and Alison Goldthorp were drafted in to advise the administrator KPMG.

The transaction will see Sunrise Records acquire 100 HMV stores across the UK while 27 stores were not included in the deal and have now shut down.

Howard Kennedy is advising KPMG, with a team led by corporate partner Jonathan Polin while Browne Jacobson corporate finance partner Roger Birchall is advising Sunrise Records.

High street cake purveyor Patisserie Valerie last month called in KPMG after it was unable to shake off significant fraud plaguing the business, with Gateley advising the administrator.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk