Legal Business

Revolving doors: Cleary loses partner to Simmons as Jenner & Block adds from White & Case

Revolving doors: Cleary loses partner to Simmons as Jenner & Block adds from White & Case

In a busy week for London appointments, Haynes and Boone, Simmons & Simmons and Jenner & Block have all made hires.

Simmons has boosted its capital markets group with the arrival of Simon Ovenden, who will join the firm’s London office as a partner from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton on 1 May 2017. The hire follows the similar appointment of Jonathan Mellor, who joined Simmons’ capital markets group from Allen & Overy in January 2017.

Ovenden has a background in representing financial institutions in jurisdictions ranging from the US to Nigeria and Pakistan.

Haynes and Boone has made a string of simultaneous hires, bringing in Emma Russell, Zoe Connor and Andreas Silcher.

Russell and Connor join Haynes and Boone’s London office as partners, where they will advise on a broad range of finance transactions. Russell joins from Carey Olsen while, Connor, joins from Ashurst where she was a senior associate.

Silcher rejoins the firm after a tenure as general counsel of the liquefied natural gas division of the Cardiff/Dryships group. An expert in oil and gas, Silcher said: ‘Haynes and Boone CDG is extremely well known and respected for its work in the shipbuilding and offshore energy sectors.

‘I’m excited to help build on that reputation and to also be part of a full-service firm that is quickly expanding its English law capability and global reach.’

Also adding to its London capacity is Jenner & Block, hiring Jason Yardley as a litigation partner.

Yardley, who has over two decades of international litigation and arbitration experience, has acted in cases concerning the TMT sector in addition to banking, finance and mining. Yardley joins from White & Case where he spent almost 17 years litigating disputes across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia and sat on the firm’s partnership committee. The move reunites Yardley with his former White & Case colleague Charlie Lightfoot, who is Jenner & Block’s London managing partner.

In South Africa, Bowmans has hired Nicolas Bonnefoy as a partner in its oil and gas sector. Bonnefoy, who will join the firm’s Johannesburg office, had previously been involved in acquisitions and disposals of oil and gas assets throughout Africa.

Previously of Ashurst, Bonnefoy said: ‘I am deeply impressed by the Oil and Gas team, which combines industry expertise, local teams in Africa, as well as African- and English-qualified solicitors. The oil & gas offering is therefore comprehensive and competitive.’

Legal Business

Q&A: Jenner & Block’s Charlie Lightfoot talks about leadership, White & Case, and ‘getting my hands dirty’


Chicago litigation firm Jenner & Block’s launch of its first overseas office earlier this year in London was as soft as they come. Is there space for another litigation firm or will London be its graveyard? Charlie Lightfoot (pictured), the man tasked with growing the firm’s London office, talks of the firm’s prospects. 

Why did you want to join Jenner & Block?

It took a lot of hard thought but these opportunities don’t come around very often and it’s an exciting step. I’d been at White & Case for 16 years and always been very happy but the more I learned about Jenner & Block the more I realised why it was the right fit for me. I guess there was a leap of faith but every lawyer I met at Jenner & Block gave a consistent message, which is always a good sign, about the personality of the firm and how they felt about the firm opening in London. They also take the quality of their lawyering very, very seriously.

Did you look what Richard East at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Natasha Harrison at Boies, Schiller & Flexner are doing and think ‘I want a piece of that’?

I was aware of Quinn and Boies and it gives you some element of confidence if you see other people doing a similar thing and apparently succeeding. But I was much more focused on what Jenner wanted to do and its vision for the office.

There are many people in London who don’t know much about Jenner & Block. What’s your message to the market? 

I’m excited to raise the profile here and educate people about Jenner & Block. They are a firm that handles transactional work as well but their roots, which was attractive to me, are in disputes. Its reputation in the US for disputes is really first class and once you realise you’re dealing with an organisation of that level of quality it becomes very attractive.

Is there more than that? Cooley came to London and said ‘we do M&A for technology companies’, Quinn came and said ‘we’ll sue banks’ and Boies came and said ‘we sue people for hedge funds’. Is there a specific focus? 

‘The message is that we are now bringing the high quality Jenner brand to London. We’re pushing our front door to London to better service our clients. It’s a three-pronged approach of white-collar, commercial litigation and arbitration. We want to push all three of these equally. That’s not to say there won’t be a transactional piece later but these are the priorities. Our client base needs all of that work. We’re excited about the prospects for international arbitration. It’s something that has been growing and that is set to continue.

Is much of the US practice transferable to London?

It is transferable. Until the opening of the London office they were a domestic practice but it’s an incredibly international practice base. We have these clients we know need assistance in London, and I hope to generate our own work too, we’re going to be an office that is going to support Jenner’s existing client base.

You weren’t in a leadership position at White & Case. What will your leadership style be like at Jenner?

As an experienced partner you are in a leadership role anyway. I’m a consensual person, who leads from the front. I enjoy getting my hands dirty on cases and working with teams. I love doing cases and I love being a lawyer but the strongest reason for this transition was the opportunity to take more of leadership role and a step in my career I was happy to make.

How do you plan to grow the office?

It’s going to be a steady expansion and my role is to use my knowledge of the London market to find the right people to help them get the message to our client base that we have strong capability in London. 

I learned a lot from White & Case. When I joined there were just 50 lawyers in London and now it’s got around 400 lawyers. I’ve been through the process of watching something grow and I’ve learned a lot from that.  I’m optimistic that Jenner’s London office will become busier and will need to grow to meet that demand.

London can be a graveyard for some US firms – Edwards Wildman Palmer and Bingham McCutchen to name two – are there any lessons to be learned in not being half-hearted?

London is a tough legal market but Jenner, from its Chicago roots, has taken on tough legal markets in New York and Los Angeles and has succeeded despite being an outsider. It now sees that the next natural progression is to London.

Legal Business

Jenner & Block hires White & Case’s Charlie Lightfoot to front London launch


As Jenner & Block ramps up its City presence, the US litigation firm has hired White & Case partner Charlie Lightfoot to lead its charge on the London litigation market.

With US disputes powerhouses Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Boies, Schiller & Flexner having launched City offices in 2008 and 2013 respectively, Chicago outfit Jenner & Block joins a growing band of litigation firms expanding into London.

Entering the City with a lower profile launch than Quinn Emanuel and Boies, Lightfoot leaves White & Case after 16 years to head Jenner & Block’s litigation and arbitration practices in London. He will link up with a four-lawyer team that arrived from Dechert earlier this year to launch the office, with senior associate Christian Tuddenham making partner through the switch that also saw special counsel Kelly Hagedorn and associates Victoria Fitzpatrick and Tracey Lattimer move across in April.

Lightfoot, who became a partner in 2010 and acts for telecomms, defence, energy and financial services clients, said, ‘leading the disputes practice for a firm like Jenner & Block in its new London office is a wonderful opportunity’.

Fellow partner Tuddenham specialises in banking and financial services disputes, particularly those with links to Asia, and was joined in London recently by partners Peter Pope and Nancy Jacobson, who relocated from the US to push the firm’s white-collar play. Pope, who co-chairs the firm’s white-collar defence and investigations practice, is a former New York prosecutor.

Terrence Truax, Jenner & Block’s managing partner, said: ‘Bringing a high-calibre UK-based talent like Charlie into our new London office is a major step forward in the strategic buildup of our cross-border litigation and international arbitration practices. Charlie is an outstanding lawyer, a gifted natural leader and the right choice to lead our disputes practice in London. We are thrilled to have him with us.’

Legal Business

Opening in London: Chicago’s Jenner & Block targets litigation as it sets up shop in the City


After starting up in Chicago 100 years ago, US litigation powerhouse Jenner & Block has confirmed it will open its first international office in London this spring.

Having seen the spoils on offer to London’s litigators, Jenner & Block has leased an office in the heart of the City, yards from the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange, in Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street. Already a favourite for US law firms, Jenner & Block will have recently launched US litigation rivals Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Kobre & Kim as neighbours as it initially focuses on building its litigation practice before broadening into transactional work.

The 450-lawyer firm is planning to build a full disputes house, spanning litigation, international arbitration, regulatory investigations and white-collar crime. The London office will become the firm’s fifth office and it’s first outside the US with it currently having outposts in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.

Jenner & Block said in a statement that it is ‘serving a growing client base with international needs’ and the ‘new London office will build on the firm’s well-known and respected capabilities handling litigation’.

The firm said it will take a measured approach to building its London office, initially planning to deploy a small group of dual-qualified and US-qualified partners. Jenner & Block’s revenue reportedly soared 14% from $357.5m in 2013 to $408m last year on the back of its work for long-time client General Motors in litigation over faulty ignition switches. Profits per partner rose a remarkable 31% to $1.6m over the same period, in part to due staff reductions at associate and partner level.

Legal Business

New GCs for Tiffany and Visa as Northern Trust appoints Jenner & Block MP as legal chief


The latest senior in-house moves have seen luxury jewellery company Tiffany & Co promote Leigh Harlan to take over as general counsel as longstanding incumbent Patrick Dorsey announces his retirement, while Visa has brought in PepsiCo’s deputy GC Kelly Mahon Tullier to head its legal function, and Jenner & Block’s managing partner Susan Levy has been appointed as legal chief of global investment management firm Northern Trust.

Dorsey retires after 29 years on 22 May, when associate GC Harlan, who joined the iconic New York Stock Exchange-listed jewellers in 2012 from elite Wall Street firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore will take over as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, reporting to Tiffany’s chairman and CEO Michael Kowalski.

Kowalski said: ‘I can only express immense appreciation for Pat’s enormous contributions since joining Tiffany in 1985. Pat played a pivotal role in Tiffany’s initial public offering in 1987.

‘Since joining Tiffany, Leigh has proven herself invaluable, demonstrating a sharp, agile intellect, keen legal acumen and strong leadership skills. We are confident in Leigh’s abilities to oversee our highly-talented legal department and delighted to have her as a counsellor on a range of legal matters affecting our global business,’ he added.

Elsewhere, Tullier will join Visa on 16 June as executive vice president (EVP) and deputy general counsel, transitioning into the more senior GC role within the US multinational financial services corporation from 1 October onwards.

Prior to managing PepsiCo’s global and centralised legal teams, Tullier was GC for its Asia, Middle East and Africa division, based in Dubai, where she managed legal issues in over 70 countries, including big growth markets China and India.

Visa’s chief legal officer and chief risk officer Ellen Richey, who joined Visa in 2006 from US bank Washington Mutual, will step into a newly-created vice chairman role for risk and public policy from 1 October, overseeing the chief risk officer and chief audit executive.

She will also lead a newly-created function responsible for public policy at Visa and will be responsible for coordinating global crisis management at the executive level.

Visa’s CEO Charlie Scharf said: ‘I have extraordinary respect for Ellen, she has helped Visa navigate through many complex issues in her legal and risk roles. Her deep expertise and judgment, both at Visa and elsewhere, are invaluable and make her the ideal person to lead global risk management and help us further develop our public policy strategies.’

Meanwhile, Levy, who has been with Chicago-based firm Jenner & Block since leaving law school in 1982, becoming managing partner in 2008, is set to make the move in-house, to wealth and asset management institution Northern Trust, which manages $915bn in assets from offices around the world.

Succeeding Levy as managing partner at the 450-lawyer firm is co-chair of its patent litigation practice Terrence Truax, who will take over the post from 1 May.

Chairman of Jenner & Block, Anton Valukas said: ‘Susan is valued by our clients and our partners for her sound business judgment, strong legal skills and exceptional leadership capabilities. She embodies our firm’s core values and has helped us build a world-class organisation known for its trial, litigation and transactional capabilities. While we are very sad to see her leave the firm, we are exceedingly proud of what she has accomplished.’