Legal Business

Significant hires: Jones Day bolsters disputes team with Dutch Supreme Court Justice


The Netherlands’ Supreme Court Justice Coen Drion has become the nation’s first Justice to leave the Dutch court to join an international firm, joining US firm Jones Day.

Drion will join Jones Day’s disputes practice as a partner based in Amsterdam after four years of working as a judge in the civil division of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. He officially leaves the Supreme Court on the 1 September 2015.

Before his time at the Dutch Supreme Court, Drion was in private practice, focusing on contract and liability law, and has experience in competition and IT law. In 2008, he was appointed by the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to investigate events at the now defunct Belgian-Dutch financial services group Fortis, which was nationalised and partly sold to French bank BNP Paribas.

Drion, in 1992, co-founded Dutch firm Kennedy Van der Laan, having previously worked at local firm Van Doorne & Sjollema – which later merged into Trenité van Doorne – where he specialised in international contract and tort law.

‘When I decided to become a private practitioner again, Jones Day was the obvious choice for me,’ said Drion. ‘I was particularly attracted to its approach of serving clients as one firm worldwide, without origination credits or other client service distractions.’

Jones Day’s global disputes head, Tim Cullen added: ‘One of our major strengths is our comprehensive international footprint with lawyers qualified before jurisdictions throughout the world, which involves having litigators on the ground who practice before the domestic courts of their home jurisdiction. As the seventh global disputes lawyer in our Amsterdam office, he adds even more depth to our significant capabilities there, and we look forward to his arrival in September.’

Legal Business

Jones Day hires Paul Hastings’ Neil Hamilton as it builds its London capital markets practice


Within a week of hiring high-yield partner Jonathan Bloom from Ropes & Gray, Jones Day has expanded its securitisation capability in London with former Clifford Chance (CC) partner Neil Hamilton joining the firm.

Hamilton joins the capital markets practice from Paul Hastings, where he focused on securitisation and structured finance, with a particular emphasis on collateralised loan obligations (CLOs) and related structured products. Before this, he was a partner at CC for 12 years.  

Hamilton has advised banks and financial institutions including Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank while other clients have included New Amsterdam Capital, Babson Capital Europe, and 3i Debt Management. He has also represented credit managers and hedge funds on portfolio acquisitions and disposals, the establishment of debt funds and direct lending platforms, and asset restructuring and workouts.

Edward Nalbantian, co-leader of Jones Day’s global banking and finance practice said: ‘Neil brings with him a wealth of experience that will add further strength to our debt capital markets and finance offering to clients in London and the rest of Europe. As the global financial markets finally recover, securitisation is increasingly being used to ensure that credit remains available.’

Jones Day’s most recent recruit further heightens the firm’s aim to significantly grow its footprint in London. Last year the firm made 50 lateral hires across its offices.

Jones Day partner-in-charge John Phillips confirmed that further lateral hires are in the pipeline and that the firm will continue to bring in finance lawyers on the back of the financial markets picking up this year.

Jones Day’s capital markets partner Drew Salvest added: ‘Enhanced securitisation capability is key to the ongoing growth of our debt capital markets business and the appointment of Neil Hamilton now brings exceptional senior securitization experience to the team.’

Legal Business

Ropes & Gray loses high yield partner Bloom as Jones Day builds capital markets practice


High-yield expert Jonathan Bloom has quit Ropes & Gray after five years to join rival US firm Jones Day’s London office in a bid to develop the firm’s high yield practice.

Bloom is joining Jones Day’s capital markets practice as partner having previously been partner in the London finance group at Ropes, where he focused on corporate and finance transactions with a particular emphasis on high yield debt offerings and fund-related special situations transactions. He also advises on acquisitions, bridge and mezzanine financings, and debt restructurings. Some of his key clients include GoldenTree Asset Management, BlackRock, KKR Asset Management, and Vision Capital. Part of Bloom’s role will involve working with the firm’s transactional practices in New York.

Prior to Ropes, Bloom was a partner at White & Case for nearly two years; he joined the firm in January 2007 as counsel and became partner a year later.

Jones Day partner-in-charge John Phillips said: ‘As global corporate investment strategies are driven by the search for yield, our clients are increasingly demanding experienced high yield advice. High yield bonds are a funding tool in the debt capital markets and in private equity, restructuring and M&A situations, so Jonathan’s experience will benefit our clients in all these areas.’

Phillips also confirmed that further lateral hires are in the pipeline and that the firm will continue to bring in finance lawyers on the back of the financial markets picking up this year.

Jones Day capital markets head Giles Elliott added: ‘Jones Day regularly advises clients on transactions with multiple layers of financing, including high yield debt, and Jonathan’s considerable experience in both New York and London will help us provide seamless, coordinated advice on the most complex, cross-border matters.’

The hires comes within a week of Ropes hiring heavyweight private equity partner Phil Sanderson from UK firm Travers Smith.

Legal Business

Clydes continues to grow ME practice while Jones Day hires in Singapore


Following a string of international lateral hires over recent months, Clyde & Co continues to bolster its team in the Middle East with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) Islamic finance specialist Adil Hussain joining the firm.

Hussain will join Clydes as head of Islamic finance in Abu Dhabi in a bid to grow its regional Islamic finance offering. His arrival takes the firm’s Abu Dhabi partner numbers to seven and regional partner numbers to 39. He will work closely with Clyde’s finance and corporate practices, and in particular with Dubai-based banking and finance partner, Adrian Low, and corporate and finance partner Abdulaziz Al Bosaily in Riyadh.

Having been based in the MENA region for over eight years, including spending three years in Riyadh, Hussain has experience of acting for local and regional banks on structuring and developing Islamic finance products, and on transactional matters for corporates and banks. Some of his key clients include ABC Islamic Bank, BBK, Emirates NBD Bank, Al Baraka Islamic Bank Bahrain, Bank of London and the Middle East, and May Bank Bahrain in relation to Al Bayan Group Holding Company’s debut syndication in the regional debt market. Hussain joined HSF in November 2009, before which he was executive vice president and general counsel at Gatehouse Bank since April 2008.

Hussain said: ‘The Islamic finance industry has experienced dramatic growth in recent years and is predicted to double in industry size by 2017. With the development of the market, I see a lot of potential, both from a regional perspective and an international point of view. I look forward to working alongside the existing Clyde & Co team to build upon its current client offering and strengthen the firm’s international reach.’

Niall O’Toole, regional board member and head of Clyde & Co’s MENA corporate practice, added: ‘Adil’s experience will further strengthen the capabilities of the Abu Dhabi office and our regional transactional offering. His arrival is another indicator of our ongoing investment into the region and our commitment to our clients in providing specialist services.’

The hire follows the trophy partner hire of Eversheds’ regional chairman Christopher Jobson who joined as a partner in Abu Dhabi last month.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, US firm Jones Day has hired private equity partner Mae Shan Chongin from rival firm White & Case, to grow its private equity and M&A practices in Southeast Asia. Chongin has experience of advising private equity and corporate clients and investment banks and hedge funds on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, buy-outs and corporate reorganizations. Some of her clients include CHAMP Private Equity, CLSA Capital Partners, Challenger Emerging Markets Infrastructure Fund, Hermes GPE, Nestlé Waters and PT Pertamina.

Jones Day’s partner-in-charge of the Singapore office Sushma Jobanputra said: ‘We are delighted that Mae will be joining us in Singapore. Mae’s international experience will add strength and depth to our team as we continue to grow our private equity and M&A practices in Southeast Asia and further enhance our ability to provide Singapore law advice to our clients.’

Chuck Hardin, co-chair of Jones Day’s private equity practice, added: ‘Mae is an excellent lawyer, and her cross-border experience adds more depth to our strong private equity capabilities throughout the world. Her experience in emerging markets in South and Southeast Asia, and more broadly throughout Asia, will be of great value for our clients involved in transactions throughout the region.’

Legal Business

Slaughters posts high trainee retention rate while BLP keeps on 83%

Slaughter and May, which is well known for its high retention rates, has kept on 33 out of its 34 qualifying trainees, giving it a retention rate of 97%. In March, the firm retained 36 people from a cohort of 38, a rate of 95%.

Corporate partner Robert Byk, who helps lead the firm’s graduate recruitment, told Legal Business: ‘Most firms significantly reduced training contracts three years ago, so it’s logical that their retention rates have improved, we didn’t do that. For us the lowest we’ve ever been is 88%. For us it is important to retain people and recruit for the long-term.’

Byk added that the firm’s recruitment policy, which does not screen out applicants based on A Level results, supports diversity at the firm, which has also added to the complexity of its written tests carried out on the day of interview, a policy introduced two years ago and then shared with partners that had not interviewed the candidate.

Berwin Leighton Paisner has retained 15 of 18 newly qualified lawyers, posting an 83% retention rate in a year when some of its City rivals have increased the number of lawyers they are keeping on.

The firm, which posted bumper financial results this year including a 35% rise in profit per equity partner to £542,000, retained 15 out of 18 final-seat trainees. In the Spring the firm kept hold of 16 out of 18 newly qualified lawyers, a retention rate of 89%.

Anthony Lennox, BLP’s trainee principal, said: ‘We are very pleased to once again be able to retain such a high percentage of our trainees. They are the future of the firm and we are committed to their development and career progression. The calibre of trainees at BLP is extremely high and this reiterates our ambition to recruit only the very best into our trainee programme.’

Elsewhere, US firm Jones Day will keep on eight newly qualified lawyers from an intake of ten. This follows on from when the firm kept on one out of a group of three in March this year, giving the firm a retention rate of 82% for 2014 in London.

Three of the newly qualified will take up positions in the firm’s global disputes practice, while two will join real estate, and the remaining three will be split between corporate, banking and intellectual property.

Of the two trainees that are not staying on, one is leaving to launch his own business, while the other chose to specialise early.

Legal Business

Jones Day hires CC Frankfurt head of automotives and McKenna Long Brussels regulatory partner


Fresh from its run of lateral hires from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in London, Jones Day has made two prominent European partner hires, as Clifford Chance’s (CC) Frankfurt-based automotive head Johannes Perlitt joins the firm’s corporate practice while the head of EU product regulatory practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Brussels, Ursula Schliessner has also joined the firm as a partner.

Corporate/M&A specialist Perlitt joins Jones Day after 14 years as a partner with Magic Circle CC, where he headed the automotive industry group. Having represented global companies in a number high profile corporate and capital markets transactions, he previously advised Volkswagen on its combination with Porsche to create the Integrated Automotive Group – a €4.7bn deal for an accelerated integration model introduced in July 2012.

Partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s German office, Ansgar Rempp, said: ‘The addition of Perlitt demonstrates that Jones Day has become one of the most sought after firms for first class laterals. We are glad to have recruited one of the most experienced German lawyers for public takeovers and corporate law.

‘This is another important step in the ongoing expansion of our presence in the German market. We will continue to pursue our strategic goal of becoming one of the leading corporate law firms in Germany. Due to its economic strength and leading role within the EU, Germany is among the most important locations for Jones Day for the long term.’

Jones Day has been on a recruitment drive in Germany, strengthening its Düsseldorf office with hires including Simmons & Simmons partner Ulrich Brauer, who joined last April as German head of corporate and M&A. Former Bird & Bird partner Kerstin Mast and Ralf Recknagel of German firm GSK Stockmann + Kollegen also joined the firm’s German corporate practice the year before.

Separately, it has emerged that Schliessner joined the firm’s Brussels office in mid-February as a partner in its government regulation practice.

With more than two decades of experience in EU regulatory matters, and a specific focus on chemical, environmental, food, biotech, product safety, and workers’ health & safety regulatory issues, Schliessner advises companies and trade associations on regulatory compliance issues, product authorisations, labelling, and circulation across the EU in a broad range of industry sectors.

Acknowledged by the Legal 500 as McKenna Long’s ‘lead advisor’ on consortium management, registration and authorisation, her clients have included Chromium Trioxide REACH Authorization Consortium and Iron Oxides REACH Consortium.

On her arrival, Schliessner said: ‘This move is a win-win situation that will provide our existing clients with access to all the resources of a global law firm with offices in strategic locations around the world, and will also allow us to leverage our knowledge and experience to serve the needs of an even greater number of clients.’

Noel Francisco, head of the firm’s government regulation practice, added: ‘With her broad-ranging experience, and her leading reputation on REACH, she will strongly enhance our EU regulatory law practice in Belgium and across Europe, complementing our teams in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.’

Last week (28 February) Legal Business revealed that Jones Day had secured the hire of its fourth BLP partner since last August, with the arrival of banking and capital markets partner Paul Simcock.

Legal Business

And so the tally rises, Jones Day hires fourth BLP partner since August

Fresh from the news on Friday (28 February) that DLA Piper has hired three Berwin Leighton Paisner partners, Jones Day has added to its own tally of laterals from the firm by recruiting banking and capital markets partner Paul Simcock.

Simcock specialises in leveraged finance and has acted for private equity sponsors, senior and junior lenders, strategic investors and corporate borrowers on leveraged acquisitions.

He also advises on debt restructurings and other distressed transactions, as well as re-financings and other syndicated and bilateral lending. In 2012 he advised Intermediate Capital Group on the £125m secondary buyout of convenience food manufacturer Symington’s from Bridgepoint. Simcock previously worked closely with BLP alumni Andrew Bamber, an acquisition finance hire from Allen & Overy, who left the firm last year.

Simcock is Jones Day’s fourth partner hire from BLP since August 2013. Earlier this month BLP’s former head of restructuring, Ben Larkin followed in the footsteps of private equity partners Raymond McKeeve and Michael Weir, who left for Jones Day’s London office last year.

The hires come after the news on Friday that BLP’s head of real estate finance Laurence Rogers has joined DLA Piper alongside commercial real estate partner Richard Hopkinson-Woolley and corporate tax partner Neville Wright. Their hire follows the arrival in September of BLP corporate partner Patrick Somers, meaning that the top Global 100 firm has also hired four BLP partners in the space of around six months.

BLP also saw its head of employment Fraser Younson join Squire Sanders in December.

The departures follow BLP’s increase in H1 revenues of 6%, after 2012/13 saw the 786-lawyer firm’s turnover drop by 5% to £233m and its profit per equity partner fall by 39%.

However, signs of an improvement in the firm’s fortunes were overshadowed in January by the news that its bank borrowing has increased by over 220% from £14m to £45m.

Legal Business

Making a splash – partners from Shearman, Covington and Jones Day join breakaway Freshfields arbitration boutique


As brand new start-ups go, the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer-breakaway arbitration boutique set up by heavyweight arbitrators Constantine Partasides, Paris-based Georgias Petrochilos and former arbitration co-chair Jan Paulsson earlier this month is making quite a splash.

Following news of its launch on 17 February, the latest announcement today (26 February), less than ten days later, is that Shearman & Sterling Paris international arbitration partner Todd Wetmore, Covington & Burling’s London-based international arbitration co-chair Gaetan Verhoosel, and Washington-based Jones Day litigation partner Luke Sobota have all resigned to co-found the new venture.

To say the boutique is making a name for itself already would be somewhere between hyperbole and irony, not least because it has yet to be given a name, however, the weight of the partners behind it means it has already been noticed by FTSE 100 companies, with a spokesperson for one major energy company recently remarking in an unofficial capacity that the boutique is of interest for being free of the conflicts that often dog established private practice arbitration practices.

All six named partners will be co-founders of the new firm, which will be run out of three major financial hubs: London, Washington and Paris.

Timothy Hester, chair of Covington’s management committee said: ‘We thank him [Verhoosel] for his contributions to our award-winning international arbitration practice, and wish him well in this next chapter of his career. We expect to continue to work closely with Gaëtan on existing as well as new matters, and we see a bright future for this practice.’

Shearman & Sterling’s head of international arbitration Emmanuel Gaillard added: ‘I have enjoyed working with Todd and seeing him develop into a great arbitration specialist. I have great respect for his work and have no doubt that he will continue to be successful in his new practice. I am thankful for his contribution and I am sure that we will continue working together in the years to come.’

Jones Day declined to comment.

Legal Business

Asia calling: Bird & Bird launches in South Korea as Taylor Wessing and Allen & Gledhill expand Asia footprint


Bird & Bird has joined a host of international law firms looking to enhance their global footprint with a cooperation agreement in Asia’s fourth largest economy, tying up with South Korean firm Hwang Mok Park (HMP).

Announced today (25 February), the top 20 firm said the aim is to focus on helping clients in industry sectors where technology and regulation are driving change.

Founded in 1993, HMP is acknowledged by the Legal 500 as third-tier in antitrust and competition, banking and finance, corporate and M&A, disputes, employment, and insurance.

Bird & Bird, meanwhile, which currently has a presence in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore through its global association with ATMD Bird & Bird, is, the 966-lawyer firm said, ‘experiencing a period of rapid growth in the Asia Pacific region.’

Bird & Bird’s chief executive David Kerr said: ‘We are impressed with their track record in Korea, where they have a strong base of multinational clients and a broad portfolio of interesting work. We have experienced a significant increase in client demand in the region and this agreement reflects our plans to develop an integrated Asia-Pacific offering.’

Chairman of the firm’s Asian region Justin Walkey added that ‘Korea’s advanced, technology-driven economy is a natural fit for Bird & Bird.’

Bird & Bird expanded its presence Asia Pacific presence last March, having signed a cooperation agreement with Sydney-based digital-economy law firm Truman Hoyle.

Its most recent limited liability partnership accounts for the 2012/13 financial year show that its overdraft facility rose 55% to €21m from €13.6m in 2011/12, while net debt was up 20% from €22.6m to €27.1m during that period.

Other firms to launch recently in South Korean include Linklaters, Clifford Chance, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Last week, Baker & McKenzie made a further strategic push into Asia, becoming the latest global player to launch an office in Myanmar. Confirmed last Tuesday (18 February), the firm said the launch of a branch in the city of Yangon was to be led by infrastructure and corporate partner Chris Hughes, who is currently based in Sydney.

Last week also saw Taylor Wessing’s Singapore arm, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing expand its regional footprint with an exclusive tie-up with PBC Partners in Vietnam, which currently has offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The arrangement will give RHTLaw access to 22 legal professionals in Vietnam. That tie-up comes only four months after RHTLaw announced its cooperation agreement with Indonesian law firm, Hanafiah Ponggawa and Partners.

Meanwhile, leading Singapore law firm Allen & Gledhill has also entered the Southeast Asian market by launching associate firm Allen & Gledhill (Myanmar), which came into force on 4 February. Headed by the former chief executive of the Singapore international arbitration centre, partner Minn Naing Oo, the launch follows the establishment of associate firm, Allen & Gledhill (Laos) in Vientiane in 2013.

The launches come after Jones Day confirmed this month its intentions to open an office in Perth in April this year, a region it described as ‘the mining and energy centre of Australia,’, with the hire of Allens Linklaters construction and energy litigation partner Stephen McComish.

Jones Day’s managing partner Stephen Brogan said the firm ‘continues to believe in the growing importance of Australia to the advancement of the global economy.

‘In the next decade, Western Australia in particular will play a critical role in supplying the energy and other commodity needs of Asia. If economic advancement is to benefit the largest number of people in Asia, then access to Australia’s resources will be essential,’ Brogan added.

Legal Business

Three’s company: BLP’s former head of restructuring Ben Larkin joins Jones Day


The third partner to leave Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) for Jones Day in under six months, former head of restructuring and insolvency Ben Larkin has joined the top 10 Global100 law firm’s 100 lawyer-strong global restructuring practice.

Described as ‘an excellent operator’ by the Legal 500, during his time at BLP Larkin advised on stand out mandates such as the restructuring of companies in the TXU Group and acted for RBS in the restructuring of Le Méridien hotel group.

Larkin advises a wide variety of funds, investment banks and corporations and is currently leading cross border restructurings in the telecom, pharmaceutical and energy sectors. He specialises in corporate restructuring, turnaround and insolvency matters.

‘Ben is a superb practitioner with a market-leading reputation. He will be a perfect fit with our client base and international reach,’ said John Phillips, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s London office.

‘Our global restructuring business is exceptionally busy with complex mandates from our investment fund, banking, and corporate client base,’ added Paul Leake, leader of Jones Day’s global business restructuring and reorganization practice. ‘Ben brings with him a wealth of experience that will be invaluable for the continuing development of our international practice.’

Larkin’s arrival follows that of BLP private equity chief Raymond McKeeve, who joined Jones Day in August 2013 followed shortly by fellow private equity partner Michael Weir.

Earlier this month BLP’s employment head Fraser Youlson joined Squire Sanders after leaving BLP in December. Matthew Kellett, former head of finance, left the firm October, prompting an external review of the firm’s finance practice.