Legal Business

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

In a slower week than usual for City laterals, Ashurst appointed a co-head of its planning team as Eversheds Sutherland made hires in London and Hong Kong and Clyde & Co lost a partner in Edinburgh.

Ashurst hired real estate partner Claire Dutch as co-head of the firm’s planning team in London. She joined from Hogan Lovells where she was head of the planning team, focusing on planning law, highway law and heritage law. Dutch also has experience in managing major regeneration projects, including energy and waste projects.

Meanwhile, Eversheds hired partner Simon Lightman to its commercial practice from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in London.

Lightman has experience in commercial, technology and data transactions with a focus on restructuring and renegotiation of legacy outsourcing arrangements as well as outsourcing deals and procurements. He has acted for customers and suppliers in the financial services sector as well as retail, telecommunications and aviation.

Eversheds also appointed Shepherd and Wedderburn’s banking and finance litigation head to its Edinburgh office.

Frood advises on personal injury, professional negligence, fraud and contentious trust. He has worked with retail banks, building societies and major clearing banks as well as with funders, insurers, auditors and advisers.

These appointments follow a number of recent lateral hires in the litigation & disputes practice including litigation partner Mark Hughes in Hong Kong in October, commercial dispute resolution partner Claire Stockford in London in July and real estate litigation partner Tekla Fellas in London in March.

Partner and head of the technology group Simon Gamlin told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been looking to grow our technology practice particularly in London for the last 18 months. Simon’s practice covers general commercial and technology transactions and that includes traditional IT outsourcing arrangements but also newer more disruptive technologies.

‘We have a steady flow of work in the financial services sector which Simon has expertise in, particularly in banking but he also offers opportunities across a range of other sectors particularly retail and telecoms,’ added Gamlin.

Partner and head of real estate dispute resolution, North at Eversheds Damian Hyndman told Legal Business: ‘Alastair provides us with a great opportunity to consolidate and expand our litigation offering in Scotland. He shares our drive and ambition. He is a talented all round litigator with a particular reputation for banking, finance and insolvency litigation, which complements our existing senior team well. He has demonstrated an ability to successfully grow teams, show strong leadership and he fits in well with the firm’s culture, which is incredibly important. We think his strong personal brand and reputation will help us to grow our global brand in Scotland.’

In another reversal for Clydes, partner Calum Mathieson has left the firm’s Edinburgh office to join Plexus Law. Mathieson acts on complex and large loss employer, public and product liability claims on behalf of insurers and has experience in managing health and safety prosecutions on behalf of corporate insurers.

Mathieson told Legal Business: ‘Plexus is a forward thinking, progressive firm. I’m here to concentrate on developing some of the relationships I already have with a number of insurers.’

‘Partners from Kennedy’s moved across this year and I’ll be working with them in terms of developing the good connections Plexus already has, particularly in the London market,’ added Mathieson.

Elsewhere, DLA Piper added Stephen Wong to its litigation and regulatory practice in Hong Kong. Wong joined the firm from Stevenson, Wong & Co where he was a partner since 2015. Wong has experience in regulation and corporate matters, particularly in regulatory and criminal investigations in connections with commercial crimes.

Head of DLA’s litigation and regulatory practice in Asia Kevin Chan commented: ‘Stephen’s hire is part of our continued investment in the regulatory space in Asia. Our clients increasingly require solutions which help them meet their compliance obligations, as well as manage risk. Stephen’s skillset and experience will be a valuable asset to our team, and will enable us to deepen our relationships with existing and new clients.’

Finally, Paul Hastings added capital markets partner Chaobo Fan from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to its Hong Kong office. Fan has a particular focus on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions and has experience advising Chinese companies on their listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Chair of Paul Hastings Seth Zachary commented: ‘We’re meeting our clients’ demand for help with increasingly complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions. The arrival of top talent like Chaobo adds further depth to our capital markets practice in Hong Kong, one of the world’s premier listing markets.’

Legal Business

Goodwin and Eversheds make bold corporate plays amid hopes of increasing City transactional firepower

Goodwin and Eversheds make bold corporate plays amid hopes of increasing City transactional firepower

Goodwin Procter and Eversheds Sutherland both made significant corporate hires in November, with the pair recruiting Kirkland & Ellis partner Carl Bradshaw and Simmons & Simmons former head of UK corporate Giles Dennison respectively.

For Goodwin, the hire of Bradshaw comes during an expansive period for the firm, particularly in private equity. He brings nine years of experience from Kirkland – four of which were as partner – and a practice that focuses on cross-border private equity deals; leveraged buyouts; carve-outs; public-to-privates; consortium deals; and co-investments.

Legal Business

Rolling up the sleeves: Eversheds sets out corporate ambitions with hire of Simmons’ UK corporate head

Rolling up the sleeves: Eversheds sets out corporate ambitions with hire of Simmons’ UK corporate head

Eversheds Sutherland is ramping up its City investment plans as the firm looks to become a leading player in the global upper mid-market corporate space.

The firm said today (4 November) it had hired the former head of UK corporate at Simmons & Simmons, Giles Dennison (pictured), in London. Dennison was a Simmons lifer, becoming partner in 2005 before heading the corporate team since 2012.

Dennison is Eversheds’ second corporate partner hire in London in the last year, following Stuart Womersley from Addleshaw Goddard last November, and becomes the firm’s 18th corporate partner in the City. Eversheds’ co-head of global corporate and M&A Richard Moulton, however, told Legal Business he wants that group to expand to 25 partners in the next three to four years.

‘We want to keep building and investing in the City, and following the US merger with Sutherland [Asbill & Brennan in 2017] we want to be a leading global player in the upper mid-market, £200m to £1bn deal range,’ he commented. ‘We do deals larger than that, we’ll do some smaller than that, but that’s the sweet spot and where we want to position ourselves. No firm is dominating in there.’

Moulton believed there was no market leader in that space because of its fragmentation and prevalence of smaller firms. Eversheds’ lead sector groupings for the corporate team included financial services, energy, technology, and diversified industrials.

‘If you’re going to dominate in that market or be a leading player, it’s going to be firms that really crack the global piece, particularly when you’re acting for the larger corporates,’ he added.

Dennison told Legal Business his client base includes UK and US corporates from the TMT, consumer, diversified industry and healthcare sectors, which would be particularly bolstered by Eversheds’ US presence.

‘I spend a bit of time out there but it’s not the same as having the access to the network here,’ he said. ‘There’s a sense of ambition and growth here and a feeling that both as a corporate group and as a firm, they’re on a journey.’

Moulton said Eversheds’ M&A group was as busy as it had ever been despite the patchier market, given the firm’s broad international work which left it less exposed to uncertainty such as Brexit, while mid-market deals tended to always be busier than large cap anyway.

Highlight deals in the past year or so include advising Dairy Crest on its £975m sale to Canadian dairy company Saputo, advising the shareholders of John Guest Holdings on its £687m sale to Reliance Worldwide Corporate, and Rolls-Royce on the £500m sale of its unprofitable commercial marine division to Nordic technology company Kongsberg Gruppen.

The firm would also look to invest in its broader network, having made eight other corporate hires across the US, Manchester and Europe – particularly the Netherlands and Germany – in the last 12 months.

‘It’s hard yards but we’ve got a hungry group of partners who are very ambitious and rolling their sleeves up,’ Moulton added. ‘It’s a little bit of new kid on the block and taking people on in the City.’

Legal Business

Joining the club: Eversheds hires Hong Kong litigation partner from Slaughters

Joining the club: Eversheds hires Hong Kong litigation partner from Slaughters

Eversheds Sutherland has recruited Slaughter and May litigation partner Mark Hughes in a rare departure for the Magic Circle firm.

Hughes acts on litigation cases in Hong Kong as well as the wider Asia-Pacific market, while also acting on international arbitration matters and cross-border investigations by criminal and regulatory authorities.

Eversheds managing partner for Asia, Stephen Kitts, told Legal Business the firm had been looking to add international arbitration capability in Hong Kong for a while, having slowly built an 18-strong disputes group there, including five partners. The firm opened in Hong Kong ten years ago with just six people, and had grown to about 145 – doubling over the last three years. ‘We’re a relatively young brand in Hong Kong and a bit of a challenger,’ he commented. ‘It’s been a bit of an iterative process but disputes are very important for the firm: we have a top-10 global practice by headcount.’

He added the firm, which last year hired ex-Securities and Futures Commission in-house counsel John Siu from Herbert Smith Freehills, was continuing to look to strengthen in disputes, particularly in international arbitration. ‘International arbitration has a club-like feel to it and we’re not really in the club yet. We regard Mark joining us as a very positive development, however, because of the fact we can attract someone of his calibre.’

Eversheds has made a number of other disputes plays in recent months. In July, the firm strengthened its City disputes bench with the hire of Claire Stockford as a partner from Scottish independent Shepherd and Wedderburn. Stockford’s hire boosted the disputes team to 28 partners in London. More recently, the firm also made arbitration hires in Paris, with Gaëlle Le Quillec and Julien Fouret joining from French boutique Betto Seraglini.

For Slaughters, the departure comes in a jurisdiction where the traditionally lateral-phobic firm has made moves over the last two years. In March, it hired Jing Chen as a partner from the Listing Division of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, while in April 2018, it hired investigations and litigation lawyer Wynne Mok to its Hong Kong office.

Legal Business

Realistic: Eversheds sets new targets to combat paltry BAME partner numbers

Realistic: Eversheds sets new targets to combat paltry BAME partner numbers

Transatlantic firm Eversheds Sutherland has today (19 September) announced new targets to improve BAME representation across its UK partnership, with the firm’s current figures among the worst in the UK’s top 12.

By 2025 the firm wants 10% of its UK partnership to be comprised of BAME lawyers, with the figure currently standing at just over 5%. Throughout its UK workforce, including partners, the firm wants to hit 14% BAME representation by 2022, with the figure currently sitting at just below 12%.

Legal Business analysis in June showed that across the partnerships of the UK’s top 12 firms, just under 7% identified as BAME, with Eversheds co-chief executive Lee Ranson making clear he wanted the firm to markedly improve its record on diversity.

‘The targets show how serious we are about making our workplace an inclusive one,’ Eversheds partner Naeema Choudry told Legal Business. ‘We did research looking at the industry and at other commercial firms and looked across society as a whole and felt these targets are realistic.’

Currently firms are struggling to reconcile diverse trainee intakes with poor BAME representation at partner level. For Eversheds’ 2020 trainee contract cohort, 18% of the candidates identify as BAME, reflecting the industry’s attrition problem on BAME talent. The firm has also committed to disclosing its ethnicity pay gap figures alongside its gender pay gap report starting in 2020.

Choudry is confident the firm can ensure diversity at the junior and senior ends: ‘We’re working with our recruitment agencies to make sure they’re challenging us and we are receiving a diverse pool of talent. There will be other initiatives announced in due course.’

For more on the legal industry’s record on diversity, read Legal Business’ analysis Ticking boxes.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: NRF loses insurance team to DAC Beachcroft as Taylor Wessing taps Fieldfisher for life sciences co-head

Revolving doors: NRF loses insurance team to DAC Beachcroft as Taylor Wessing taps Fieldfisher for life sciences co-head

In an otherwise sedate week for City legal recruitment, DAC Beachcroft has proved the exception to the rule for August hiring, adding a seven-strong insurance team from Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) in London.

The team joining DAC was led by insurance litigation partner Kirsty Hick who joined on 1 August and acts for global and London market insurers. She has experience advising on complex coverage and defense issues as well as warranty and indemnity claims. The firm has been trying to grow its high-end international insurance business for the last few years with the London hires being a significant boon to that strategy.

The move follows the hire in May of Liam O’Connell, who was previously head of NRF’s EMEA insurance claims team.

Legal Business: ‘It’s a reflection of how far we have come as a firm, that we can attract the quality of Kirsty and Liam from a firm like Norton Rose to our firm. We can provide them with a very strong platform from which they can further develop their practice.’

‘There’s only three law firms that can genuinely say they offer a full-service to insurance clients and that’s ourselves, Clyde & Co and Kennedys. The market is consolidated around those three firms and as a result some of the other firms are beginning to lose some of their insurance practices’, Pollitt added.

Legal directors Rebecca Bailey and Sarah O’Connell and senior associates Jack Holling, Natasha Marshall and Cathryn Teverson will join Hick at the firm in September.

Elsewhere, Taylor Wessing has hired Alison Dennis from Fieldfisher to co-head its life sciences and healthcare group.

Dennis is experienced in life sciences regulatory and transactional work, and acts for medical device, pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The hire of Dennis is intended to fill the whole left by the firm’s previous head of life sciences, Malcolm Bates, who will be leaving the firm for Goodwin Procter. Both Dennis and Bates are currently carrying out their notice periods.

Meanwhile, newly formed London firm Avonhurst has added two ex-magic circle lawyers to its team. Ian Frost joins from Vinson & Elkins but spent over 20 years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer working on leveraged finance transactions. James Wyatt joins from Linklaters where he was a senior lawyer in global project finance matters, energy and infrastructure sector finance and infrastructure acquisition finance. The firm was formed last month by Jonathan Bloom, previously a capital markets and funds partner at Jones Day. The firm is focused on offering services around legal, legislative and political risk alongside capital markets advice.

Eversheds Sutherland meanwhile hired partners Werner Brickwedde and Simon Weppner in Dusseldorf. Brickwedde joins the corporate team from Clifford Chance and has experience in cross-border transactions while Weppner joins the tax team from Taylor Wessing. He is focused on the tax structure of company acquisitions and investments.

Alexander Niethammer, head of the commercial practice group commented: ‘We can strengthen our position in providing cross-border transaction and tax advice from one of the most important German locations for foreign direct investments.’

Finally, TLT has expanded its real estate capabilities with the hire of Claire Hamilton from JMW in Manchester. Hamilton has experience in property investment, development and finance and also in-house experience from time spent at MCR Property Group.

Legal Business

Eversheds spins off New Law arm to supercharge growth and attract external investment

Eversheds spins off New Law arm to supercharge growth and attract external investment

Hamish McNicol reports on Eversheds Sutherland taking the partnership shackles off its Konexo offering

The alternative legal service provider (ALSP) market is estimated to be worth more than $10bn annually. Research led by Thomson Reuters, called Alternative Legal Service Providers 2019: Fast Growth, Expanding Use and Increasing Opportunity, found that the revenue generated from ALSPs had grown to that amount in 2017, up 13% from an estimated $8.4bn a couple of years earlier.

Legal Business

Eversheds launches in Chicago and dreams of California in first post-merger US moves

Eversheds launches in Chicago and dreams of California in first post-merger US moves

Eversheds Sutherland has chosen one of the most competitive legal markets for its first US office launch since its transatlantic union went live just over two years ago.

The firm in June opened its seventh US base in Chicago, home to strong Global 100 players Sidley Austin and Mayer Brown, and the world’s highest-grossing firm, Kirkland & Ellis. The focus will initially be on real estate, M&A and litigation, targeting the diversified industrials, technology, media and telecoms, financial institutions and energy sectors.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Eversheds ups City disputes investment as White & Case hires Latham duo in Milan

Revolving doors: Eversheds ups City disputes investment as White & Case hires Latham duo in Milan

Eversheds Sutherland has added to recent investment in its London litigation and dispute management practice with a lateral hire from Shepherd and Wedderburn, the sixth addition to the team in the last year.

White & Case, meanwhile, made a notable double-hire from Latham & Watkins in Milan to its banking and M&A practices, as TLT expanded in Manchester with a team hire.

Eversheds announced today [29 July] the hire of Claire Stockford as a partner in its London commercial dispute resolution practice, bringing experience in international arbitration, competition disputes and commercial litigation across a range of sectors.

Her hire takes Eversheds’ London disputes team up to 28 partners, and follows three partner hires over the last year – Jessica Neuberger from Ashurst, Steve Smith from Nomura International, and Thekla Fellas from Fladgate – as well as two internal promotions.

Global co-head of litigation Paul Worth told Legal Business Stockford brought broad international experience in commercial litigation, international arbitration and competition and anti-trust litigation.

‘She’s versatile and experienced. International arbitration is an area that we are, and have been, very busy in in London and beyond, and competition litigation is an area where lots of firms are looking to strengthen,’ he told Legal Business. ‘The team had a busy year and are busy now, there’s plenty of arbitration work, and particularly international arbitration, work going on.’

He said the London disputes practice grew by 12% last year – the firm’s overall non-US business grew 11% to hit £548.8m in the 2018/19 financial year – and would continue to invest, with further lateral hires in Hong Kong, Paris and London imminent.

‘This is one of a number of hires and promotions that we have made and will continue to make to grow our London disputes practice,’ he said. ‘It’s an obvious place to continue to grow our disputes team, although not the only place.’

Elsewhere, White & Case hired Andrea Novarese and Maria Cristina Storchi in Milan. The pair recently advised the banks financing toll road operator Atlantia’s bid for Spanish rival Abertis, and will join Latham’s banking and M&A practices respectively.

Novarese had joined Latham in 2008 when it opened its Milan office, and is reunited with Michael Immordino, White & Case’s Milan executive partner, who left Latham to relaunch White & Case’s Milan office after its closure in 2008.

Immordino commented: ‘Andrea and Maria Cristina are leading lawyers in the Italian market who add experience and depth to our bench in Milan. Their addition continues an exciting period of growth for the office over the past four years where our partner team has grown by seven through a mix of new partners joining and internal promotions.’

Meanwhile in Singapore, Cooley hired corporate partner Ferish Patel from fellow US firm Gunderson Dettmer. Patel, who led Gunderson’s Singapore office, will now take the lead on Cooley’s intention to set up a Singapore base as it looks to expand further in Southeast Asia.

Patel advises high-growth technology companies at all stages of their life cycle, as well as founders, management teams, investment funds and boards of directors.

Cooley global business department chair Mike Lincoln commented: ‘Ferish is well-known and highly regarded for his extensive experience advising high-growth companies and investment funds in Singapore, India, China and elsewhere across Southeast Asia. His practice is synergistic with our deep commitment to the region and building on our momentum.’

Finally, TLT hired two partners as part of a five-lawyer corporate team from HRC Law in Manchester. Richard Life and Mark Traynor join the firm – which this year lifted revenue 7% to £87.6m – and advise in the childcare and nursery, digital, automotive and retail and consumer goods sectors on corporate matters.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Baker McKenzie expands £40m City tax practice as Eversheds makes multiple hires

Revolving doors: Baker McKenzie expands £40m City tax practice as Eversheds makes multiple hires

In a muted week for lateral recruitment, Baker McKenzie and Eversheds Sutherland made hires in the City, while Eversheds also grew on the continent.

Baker McKenzie hired tax partner Prabhu Narasimhan to its London office. Narasimhan joins from White & Case and has experience in advising and delivering cross-border mandates, acting for corporate, private equity and family office clients globally.

Mark Delaney, head of tax, told Legal Business: ‘We went from being a tax practice with revenue of £3m about 13 years ago, to being a £40m standalone tax practice.’

The firm has 16 partners in total and has been growing in areas such as tax disputes, tax advisory, and tax planning as well as seeing an increase in tax transactional work.

‘We are continuing to see a lot of regulatory change, whether that’s Brexit, digital service tax, OECD proposals and around the international tax landscape. Legislative and regulatory change creates demand for our services. The environment for taxpayers – the corporate and the individuals – in terms of tax authority hostility is also still very prevalent,’ he added.

Eversheds, meanwhile, hired Christopher Akinrele to its banking team from Addleshaw Goddard. Akinrele will focus on leveraged finance and has experience advising financial institutions, sponsors and corporate clients in syndicated and leveraged finance transactions.

Finance partner Patrick Davis told Legal Business: ‘We operate our leveraged finance practice on a national and, more increasingly, international basis. We’re seeing a lot of demand for leveraged finance work and wanted to add high-quality bench strength to that team.’

The firm has been expanding its capabilities in the upper mid-market areas of private equity and leveraged finance as well as growing the lender side of the business and capitalising on existing institutional relationships with lender clients, with the hire of Akinrele expected to complement the lender side work the firm is involved in. Despite economic uncertainty, client demand in private equity and leveraged finance was high.

Eversheds head of finance and restructuring Simon Waller commented: ‘Volumes of syndicated debt are down. We see it as flight-to-quality, in that as banks tighten some of their credit processes up they’re looking at quality credit and the work is still around.’

Eversheds also added to its bench in Munich with the hire of Michael Prüßner from Pinsent Masons to its corporate and M&A team from Pinsent Masons. The firm now has 11 partners in its German corporate and M&A practice group.

Finally, TLT grew its banking and finance team with the appointment of Marc Gilston as partner. Gilston, who was previously at Foot Anstey, has experience working with major lenders, corporate investors and businesses.