Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Osborne Clarke, Eversheds and Bryan Cave among firms to make key strategic hires

Revolving Doors: Osborne Clarke, Eversheds and Bryan Cave among firms to make key strategic hires

Europe has been the focus of much lateral partner activity over the past week, as firms including Eversheds and Osborne Clarke make senior hires across the continent.

On 3 June, Osborne Clarke announced it is to open in Brussels with a two-partner, five-lawyer team from former Belgian ally De Wolf & Partners, led by De Wolf’s head of employment Thierry Viérin and commercial partner Stefan Deswert.

Joining them at what will be the firm’s 14th office in six countries following its expansion into Italy and Spain last year, are five associates covering corporate, commercial, competition and employment law. The team will be joined by members of the firm’s EU regulatory team and further senior appointments are in the pipeline.

Viérin said: ‘We are very excited to be joining the OC family. Our Brussels team has extensive experience of both inbound international work and domestic work, with a particular focus on northern European cross-border matters.

Elsewhere, 884-lawyer US firm Bryan Cave also on 3 May announced three partner hires across its London and Paris offices. In London, the top 60 Legal Business Global 100 firm appointed Pinsents Masons rated employment partner and chair of the employment committee of the City of London Law Society, Gary Freer, as head of its UK labour and employment client services group.

Freer, who was head of employment in McGrigors London office prior to its merger with Pinsent Masons last year, advises on all employment law including executive severance, team moves, unfair and wrong dismissal, discrimination and tribunal claims as well as transfer of undertakings (TUPE) and global mobility issues.

Across the channel, meanwhile, the firm’s Paris office has poached Dentons regional head of litigation and dispute resolution Constantin Achillas and domestic and cross-border banking partner Jean-Norbert Pontier to join its commercial litigation client group and financial services client group respectively.

Achillas’ has acted for 20 years before the French courts in complex civil and commercial cases for clients including Arch Chemicals, Bank of Scotland, Bausch & Lomb, BDO, Chartis, EADS, HDI-Gerling and Veolia.

‘Constantin and Jean-Norbert will add tremendous depth and experience to our firm both in France and the EU, as well as across other international borders,’ said Joseph Smallhoover, Paris office managing partner. ‘They will play a key role in our ongoing efforts to further enhance and expand Bryan Cave’s global reach in key practice areas.’

Also in Paris, Eversheds has appointed Hascoet & Associés insurance law expert Frédérique de la Chapelle as a partner and head of insurance in its international financial services disputes resolution team (FSDR).

De la Chapelle has an established insurance and reinsurance practice and her clients include both French and overseas insurance companies and multinational corporations.

Paris FSDR partner Rémi Kleiman said: ‘We have looked at developing the insurance practice in France further and with Frédérique, a practitioner renowned for her expertise in this area on the French market, I have no doubt that we will be able to offer clients an excellent insurance litigation service from our office in Paris.’

In neighbouring Spain, DAC Beachcroft on 31 May appointed Ruth Duque as a partner in its Madrid insurance regulatory practice, joining from the Spanish Regulatory Authority, Dirección General de Seguros y Fondos de Pensiones, where she worked for ten years overseeing legislation policy.

Duque was instrumental in the drafting of the Bill on Supervision of Insurance which, when enacted, will implement Solvency II. Enrique Gich, DAC Beachcroft Madrid senior partner, said: ‘This appointment is another step in our strategy to offer clients in the international insurance market high-quality advice in dealing with regulatory issues in Solvency II.’

In the UK, meanwhile, 350-lawyer Scottish headquartered Shepherd and Wedderburn has bolstered its City real estate capability with the hire of partners Jonathan Rickard from Addleshaw Goddard and Sally Morris-Smith from Kennedys. Morris-Smith focuses on portfolio acquisitions, financing and complex development projects, having trained at Linklaters and worked at Olswang before joining Kennedys in 2009. Rickard became a partner at Addleshaw Goddard in 2002 and his clients include Hammerson, Bayerische Landesbank and IBRC.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s chief executive Stephen Gibb said: ‘Our real estate business has seen sustainable growth over a number of years now, and the addition of Sally and Jonathan is a clear indication of the investment we’re making in the future growth and success of both the real estate team and the London office.’

Elsewhere, specialist litigation firm Stewarts Law has appointed a new head of commercial litigation in Leeds, with the hire of former Pinsent Masons partner Mohan Bhaskaran.

Bhaskaran has focused on commercial disputes for over 14 years and has particular experience handling fraud and corruption investigations as well as complex commercial disputes involving major IT implementation projects, PFI disputes and product recall matters.

Firm-wide head of commercial litigation Clive Zietman said: ‘Mo’s appointment strengthens our current position as one of the leading commercial litigation departments. Our strategy continues to create a team comprising the very best lawyers to meet the complex needs of our clients and Mo will be a great asset heading the team in Leeds.’


To be included in future Revolving Door round ups send your senior appointments to

Legal Business

Strategic review: Eversheds introduces new sector focus as practice heads replaced

Strategic review: Eversheds introduces new sector focus as practice heads replaced

Eversheds has shaken up its sector focus as part of a series of measures introduced by management to adapt to changing client demand and the increased globalisation of legal services.

Following a three-year strategy review unveiled by chief executive Bryan Hughes in July last year, the top 10 UK firm is focusing heavily on increased integration and branding between its international offices and has this month created four new global sectors.

The Propcos sector will be headed by real estate partner Gurjit Atwal and will focus on companies, funds, investors and institutions that develop, manage, trade and invest in commercial and residential property. Key clients include Land Securities, SEGRO, Shaftesbury, Legal and General Property, Hammerson and Taylor Wimpey;

The Public sector will be led by development and regeneration partner Steve Manson and draw together public sector expertise across the firm. Key clients include a number of local government authorities as well as central government departments;

Parmjit Singh, head of the firm’s India group, will lead the Consumer sector, bringing together the firm’s food and drink; retail and leisure; and consumer goods teams. The firm’s clients include Marks & Spencer, John Lewis Partnership, Selfridges, Kurt Geiger, Holland & Barrett and Next.

The Diversified Industrial sector will be headed by M&A partner Robin Johnson and bring together the firm’s industrial engineering; aerospace and defence; chemicals; and automotive groups. Key clients include BAE Systems, Du Pont, Rolls-Royce, Tyco, Volvo, Smiths Group and Pentair.

There have been no changes to the firm’s existing sector groups: health and life sciences led by Bill Gilliam; energy and natural resources led by Paul Wootton; education led by Diane Gilhooley; and technology media and telecoms led by Charlotte Walker-Osborn.

Elsewhere, the firm has also overhauled its practice heads. Former head of real estate Julie Stobart has taken on the executive role of client services director, with responsibility for delivering the firm’s client strategy. David Watkins will take over from Stobart as real estate practice head.

Paul Worth, meanwhile, will become head of the financial institutions sector group. Worth was formerly head of the financial services dispute resolution team – a role that will now be split in two, with financial services litigation partner Matthew Allen taking a global remit for the team and partner Anthony Davies focusing on the UK side of the business.

The other new heads are:

– Transport sector group – Helen Thomas (taking over from Cornelius Medvei and Anne Harris)

– Retail sector group: James Batham (taking over from Antony Gold, who has left the firm)

– Human resources practice group: Francois Barker (taking over from Anthony Arter, who will remain as London senior partner)

Paul Moorcroft, the firm’s head of real estate litigation, is also taking up the role as head of the firm’s Edinburgh office.

Hughes said: ‘As a business, we continue to grow and evolve and these changes reflect both our sharpened market focus and the development of a new cadre of leaders, adding to the depth of senior legal and commercial talent across the firm.’

In May, Eversheds announced that 116 staff would be made redundant, following a restructuring that began in January and initially put 166 jobs at risk.

Legal Business

Redundancy watch: Clyde and Eversheds confirm job losses as cuts keep coming

The run of gloomy news regarding job cuts continues with Clyde & Co and Eversheds this week confirming job losses as 2013 looks set to rival the deep run of cuts at major law firms seen in 2009.

Clyde confirmed that it has made eight support staff redundant after a consultation earlier in the year. The top 20 UK law firm declined to confirm reports that it had separately made two senior associates redundant in its Manchester office.

Eversheds confirmed today (24 May) that 116 staff would be made redundant across the firm. This follows a redundancy consultation that placed 166 jobs at risk, including 82 fee earners, at the beginning of the year. This was the UK law firm’s sixth redundancy round since 2007.

In a statement the firm said: ‘Following the restructuring that we announced in January, the final number of redundancies that occurred across the firm was 116. This was significantly lower than the 166 positions that were put at risk as a result of the consultation exercise.

‘We have been able to redeploy a number of our people into other parts of the business. Where redeployment was not possible, significant outplacement support was offered to all affected.’

The run of announcements come as a series of major law firms have announced impending or actual job losses including Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), CMS Cameron McKenna, Osborne Clarke, DWF, Olswang and Farrer & Co.

BLP in particular attracted attention for last week announcing a sweeping consultation that put more than 100 jobs at risk. The 720-lawyer firm is tipped to see a sharp fall in profitability for its 2012/13 financial year.

On current form, 2013 looks likely to see more than 1,000 job losses at major UK law firms – the deepest run of cuts since 2009 when around 2,500 legal jobs were shed in the wake of the banking crisis.

As yet, one difference is that leading London law firms have largely avoided the kind of sweeping job losses seen in 2009, when Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance all made more than 100 staff redundant in the UK. With law firm leaders generally gloomy over prospects for the second half of 2013, few are expecting the run of job losses to be over.

Legal Business

Asia round-up: Bingham makes funds push in Tokyo while Eversheds launches in Beijing

The lateral hire market has been particularly active in Asia this week, with some of the most established international players in the region losing experienced partners.

The most notable move came in Japan, where US firm Bingham McCutchen has added seven White & Case lawyers to its investment funds team in Tokyo.

The group is led by partners Christopher Wells and Tomoko Fuminaga. Wells was the head of White & Case’s Japanese investment funds and regulatory team and has 30 years’ experience of practising in Japan at Baker & McKenzie, Coudert and leading domestic firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune.

Fuminaga, meanwhile, is a highly experienced bengoshi in White & Case’s banking and finance practice, which is top rated in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific.

‘The arrival of Chris and Tomoko further enables us to provide the best on-the-ground capabilities in Tokyo for domestic and international institutional investors, as the Japanese market has seen recent progress under the new Japanese administration,’ said Hideyuki Sakai, Tokyo managing partner at Bingham.

Norton Rose has also lost a funds partner, Daniel Yong, to domestic Singaporean firm Stamford Law this week. While at Norton Rose, Yong was a corporate partner and went on to lead the office’s investment funds practice.

Yong also practised at Duane Morris, Lovells and Jones Day. Recent experience includes establishing a $1bn private equity fund investing in PRC real estate assets and a $150m clean energy fund.

‘He enhances our capabilities in advising funds clients across the region, is highly experienced and understands the many complex issues that funds and private equity clients face when investing in Asia,’ said Lee Suet-Fern, senior director of Stamford Law.

Elsewhere in Singapore, UK firm Ince & Co has bolstered its energy team with the hire of Martin David from DLA Piper. He joins the firm as head of energy for Asia, having previously led DLA’s Asia finance and projects group. After originally training as an engineer, Martin also worked at Linklaters and left for DLA in 2008 to become managing partner of its Singapore office.

‘Martin’s considerable knowledge of international finance and projects experience will contribute significantly to the firm’s continued growth and success in Asia and more widely,’ said Jeremy Farr, global head of Ince & Co’s energy practice.

However, the most interesting move comes from China, where US firm Morgan Lewis has lost its Beijing co-head Ingrid Zhu-Clark, who has moved to Eversheds, where she will become managing partner of its Beijing office. Zhu-Clark becomes the first to leave of the crop of 20 partners that joined Morgan Lewis from Dewey & LeBoeuf less than a year ago, where she was managing partner of its Beijing office. Before joining legacy firm LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae, she was at Lovells’ Beijing office.

The arrival of Zhu-Clark heralds the launch of Eversheds’ Beijing office, which opens on 20 May after the firm obtained a licence to practise at the end of last year. It will be run by Zhu-Clark along with corporate lawyer Jay Ze.

In terms of new office openings in the region, the biggest splash was made by highly profitable disputes boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which announced a Hong Kong arbitration practice this week, shortly after unveiling a new office in Sydney. For more on this story, click here.

Legal Business

Pinsents launches flexi-lawyer service for clients

Pinsent Masons is set to launch a contract lawyer service that will provide clients with access to lawyers on a temporary basis as and when they are needed.

‘Vario’ will offer in-house teams a group of freelance lawyers with a variety of experience to cover anything from fixed-term projects to maternity leave. The move follows clients’ increased demand for flexible lawyers and addresses the core issues of resource, cost and skills that often affect the in-house legal teams.

Pinsents partner Alison Bond, who heads Vario, said: ‘Clients are increasingly asking for access to flexible resources. However, we wanted to take the idea a step further and launch the next generation of this type of service.

Legal Business

Growth in LB100 regional peer groups half that of London

The capital has extended its position as the most buoyant legal market in the UK, with midsize London law firms continuing to outpace their regional rivals, notching up an average 10% increase in organic revenue this year compared to just a 5.5% revenue rise for non-London firms.

The South, North and Scottish regions are among the worst performing markets for LB100 firms this year, with firms in those regions increasing revenue on average by just 1%, 5% and 5% respectively.

Legal Business

Eversheds boosts construction practice with McGrigors team

Eversheds has bolstered its Manchester offering with the hire of an eight-lawyer contentious construction team from McGrigors just months before the Scottish firm is due to tie the knot with Pinsent Masons.

McGrigors’ Manchester chief David Moss and construction disputes partner Paul Giles joined Eversheds in March, along with six additional lawyers. The team provides combined expertise in the energy and utilities sectors.

Legal Business

The life of Bryan

The life of Bryan

One year since he became Eversheds’ chief executive, Bryan Hughes is reshaping a business badly bruised by the downturn. Can he be the firm’s new messiah?

For a moment the persona slips. The studied slouch stiffens. The I’m-the-man-for-a-crisis composure loses its gloss a little. ‘We’ve got a fairly emotive brand for some reason; we do attract views,’ he sighs, getting worked up by the web commentariat or ‘the blogs’ as he calls them. ‘I don’t know if it’s a question of whether we’ve been too successful too quickly, or whether people see us as a threat, or whether we’re just big and therefore people want to put the boot in.’