Legal Business

King & Spalding makes City funds play with hire of top-tier Cadwalader team

Five-strong fund finance team finds new home at K&S with further hires on the cards.

King & Spalding has hired a funds finance team from Cadwalader into its London office, led by Legal 500 fund finance leading individual Samantha Hutchinson.

The team includes four Cadwalader partners and one special counsel who will join K&S as a partner, with a number of junior lawyers also set to make the move.  

Along with Hutchinson, the partners are funds finance experts Mathan Navaratnam and Legal 500 next-generation partner Nathan Parker, as well as ESG co-chair Sukhvir Basran, who joined Cadwalader from Hogan Lovells in December 2022. Special counsel James Hoggett, who came to the firm as an associate in 2018 from Dentons at the same time as Hutchinson, will also be joining.

The departures will leave Cadwalader with just 20 partners in London, according to the firm’s website, and comprise the bulk of its top-tier London fund finance group. Of the lawyers named in the firm’s Legal 500 fund finance ranking, only one remains: special counsel George Pelling. The firm’s website lists 11 other London funds finance lawyers.

For K&S, meanwhile, the moves are evidence that the firm is in growth mode in London, following on from last October’s announcement that it would upsize its premises with a move to 41,000 square feet of office space on levels 27-31 of 8 Bishopsgate. ‘On a strategic level, our growth plans presented us with a choice to either be conservative or ambitious when it came to office space’, the firm’s London managing partner Tom Sprange KC told Legal Business at the time. ‘We opted for ambition.’ 

Sprange also spoke of a need to ‘balance our practice’ – to expand in transactional work alongside the office’s experience on the contentious side. The firm built up its non-contentious benches with its October 2022 hires of private equity partners Amit Kataria and Paul Barron from Morrison Foerster and Dickson Minto respectively. In March, capital markets partner Peter Schwartz joined the firm, reuniting with his former colleagues Richard Kitchen and Amin Doulai, who had also left Paul Hastings for K&S in August 2022. 

A Cadwalader spokesperson said in a statement: ‘We are grateful for our former colleagues’ contributions and wish them success in all their future endeavors. We’re proud of our market-leading trans-Atlantic fund finance practice, which has seen tremendous success and will continue to serve as the go-to team for sophisticated cross-border transactions. Fund finance is a key component of our robust, multi-practice team in London. For 30 years, we’ve built an exceptional group of attorneys and staff in the UK, and recently expanded our London office footprint to accommodate our continued growth.’ 

Legal Business

King & Spalding takes another silk with hire of former director of public prosecutions

King & Spalding has hired Sir Max Hill KC (pictured) into its London office. Hill served as director of public prosecutions for England and Wales from November 2018 to October 2023. A barrister since 1987, he took silk in 2008 and was knighted after leaving the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in January 2024.

Hill’s addition brings the number of KCs in the firm’s London office to four, alongside disputes partner Ruth Byrne KC, arbitration partner John Savage KC, and office managing partner Tom Sprange KC.

Hill’s experience ranges from prosecuting the 7/7 bombings to acting for the lead Citibank defendant in the joint Serious Fraud Office-Department of Justice Forex investigation. He joins the firm’s special matters and government investigations practice in what he described as a ‘hybrid role’ as senior consultant and senior counsel.

‘The benefit of having a consultant/counsel role is that some of the work I’ll be doing won’t culminate in formal proceedings, still less an appearance in court’, he told Legal Business. ‘A platform like King & Spalding offers greater opportunity to provide support to clients outside of formal proceedings than did membership in a barristers’ set.’

The hire is a notable example of a UK lawyer moving from work at a public body back to private practice. Such moves are not unheard of: Hill’s predecessor as DPP, Dame Alison Saunders, joined Linklaters as a partner in 2019, while Sir David Green KC, director at the Serious Fraud Office from 2012 to 2018, moved to Slaughter and May as a senior consultant when his term ended, and is now a partner in Cohen & Gresser’s London office.

‘What attracted me to King & Spalding was its willingness to take in people like me, who come from public service back into private practice, which is a relatively unusual path in UK legal careers, but a much more common one in the US.’ For Hill, experience on the government side allows practitioners to better advise clients on how to avoid breaches of compliance before they happen.

He also pointed to an increase in regulators’ use of both civil and criminal proceedings: ‘Where before we might have seen criminal litigation on one side and civil on the other, we’re now seeing the two fuse.’ In a statement, Sprange made a similar point: ‘The ever-increasing convergence of the civil, criminal and regulatory strands of the law demands sophisticated and holistic solutions, and Max can address all.’

And the regulatory tide is rising: while US regulators have been ‘more aggressive’, Hill noted that UK agencies were increasing their activities too, with the Economic Crime and Transparency Act’s creation of a new offence of corporate failure to prevent economic crimes one particular area of expansion. At the same time, regulators increasingly operate across national and jurisdictional boundaries.

In this context, Hill argued that his hire was part of a shift in approach on King & Spalding’s part – a move to a more expansive understanding of investigations, informed by the firm’s experience in the US market. ‘The US term for that is “special matters”’, he said. ‘It’s less well understood in the UK, but it’s already used in the firm’s London office, and the development of the practice in London is an attempt to achieve in the London market the same ends as the firm has in the US.’

Legal Business

‘We opted for ambition’: King & Spalding’s Tom Sprange KC on the firm’s London move and expansion plans

Following the announcement of its move to a new office space at 8 Bishopsgate, Legal Business spoke to King & Spalding London managing partner Tom Sprange KC (pictured) about the move, the firm’s expansion plans and cracking the private equity market.

‘I can’t emphasise enough how important the new office is to us, on a strategic, symbolic, practical, and professional level. The firm launched in London in 2003 with a handful of people in rented office space so announcing a new state-of-the-art office is a perfect way to not only mark our 20th anniversary but also to secure the foundations for further growth over the next two decades and beyond,’ Sprange responded when asked about the rationale behind the move.

The new office cements the firm’s commitment to further expansion in London, after it found it had outgrown its previous space. ‘On a basic level, our investments over the years have seen us grow to almost 90 fee earners and 150 colleagues in total, which is more than triple what we were 10 years ago. As such, we are pretty much at capacity in our present space. On a strategic level, our growth plans presented us with a choice to either be conservative or ambitious when it came to office space. We opted for ambition.  We see the move as a new chapter in our history and an important first step for the next stage of our evolution,’ Sprange added.

Commenting on the firm’s recruitment strategy in London, Sprange said: ‘We have always been precise and rigorous in our recruitment strategy. We would rather have steady but high quality, sustainable growth, rather than rapid but transient growth. That is our aim, rather than putting specific targets in places. The London market is one of the most competitive in the world and US law firms with legal headcounts beyond the double-digit threshold are becoming ever more common.  While smaller offices can corner certain niches, you need critical mass to really be in the game. That means having a constant eye on ensuring that we are securing and executing high-value work as much as we are growing lawyer numbers.’

Recent high-profile hires include ex-Reed Smith counsel Patrick Schuman who joined the firm as a partner in January 2023. Focusing on restructuring, he works across the energy, construction, and commodities sectors. Investment funds and asset management partner Stephen Sims also joined the firm in November 2022 moving from management consultant MJ Hudson. Sims previously headed Skadden’s European investment management team.

In October 2022 the firm added private equity partners Amit Kataria and Paul Barron to its corporate practice. Kataria moved from Morrison Foerster and Barron marked a rare departure from Dickson Minto. August 2022 saw the arrival of partners Richard Kitchen and Amin Doulai who joined its corporate, finance and investments group. The pair moved from Paul Hastings.

However, the firm’s recruitment strategy is not focused solely on lateral hires. ‘A huge focus for most firms is on partners, and rightly so, but identifying and developing those next generation lawyers is something we take great pride in. The development of our trainee program and the proliferation of home-grown talent in our ranks is testament to that,’ Sprange added.

Traditionally known for its disputes expertise, with its international arbitration practice ranked tier 1 in the Legal 500 and its contentious construction and civil fraud practices ranked tier 3, the firm is keen, however, to offer a rounded experience to clients. ‘We’re committed to our London disputes practice – not least as I was the first disputes lawyer to join the group here in 2011 – but the key is to balance our practice to reflect the market and our clients’ needs. London has a transactional slant that is unique and creates a different set of demands than the more litigious US market. The nature of disputes or regulatory work is therefore different to transactional work internationally. That said, the goal is to be able to provide clients with sophisticated advice no matter what the scenario so we like to approach everything through a holistic frame and see how practices can complement others in the firm.’

Having made significant investments in its corporate practice over the last two years, the firm is keen to make its mark in the private equity sphere, alongside its American peers in London. ‘It is no secret that the firm has been investing substantially in our corporate, finance and investments (CFI) practice, both in London and internationally – we added seven CFI partners in London and six in EMEA in the past year or so. We have more exciting hires in the pipeline.’

‘The private equity and private credit space has been a key area for us, although we’re acutely aware of how intense that sector is so we’re trying to carve out something a bit different. We’d also look at building out areas such as employment, tech, competition and white collar teams,’ Sprange concluded.

Legal Business

‘Dynamic and different’: King & Spalding zeroes in on Europe with three more partner hires

King & Spalding has significantly bolstered its European presence, bringing in a further three partners to its transactional group in the last week, as the firm seeks to develop its offering across the continent.

Corporate and private equity partner Peter Memminger joining the Frankfurt office on Thursday (1 September). Previously a partner at Milbank, Memminger joined from his own boutique firm, Bub Memminger & Partner, alongside a four other lawyers. He is experienced in distressed M&A, restructuring, insolvency and disputes in addition to corporate work.

Fernand Arsanios and Alice Mony Decroix joined in Paris on Friday (2 September) from Reed Smith and Bredin Prat respectively. Arsanios focuses on acquisition and project financing transactions, while Mony Decroix specialises in employment issues including staff restructuring and employee collective negotiations.

The three new hires build on the recruitment last Wednesday (31 August) of Richard Kitchen and Amin Doulai from Paul Hastings, who joined the group in London to bolster the firm’s private credit capabilities.

Speaking to Legal Business, King & Spalding’s New York-based head of corporate, finance and investments (CFI) Todd Holleman (pictured), said: ‘Clients are increasingly becoming more cross-border in their operations, requiring both holistic transactional advice as well as stand-alone corporate advice and our strategy is to significantly expand our European CFI team across key jurisdictions and practices. Our recent hires go right to the heart of that strategy, covering sectors such as M&A, private equity, banking and finance, employment and real estate.

‘I think we’re trying to build a platform here that is dynamic and different. Sophisticated transactional work is a cornerstone of that, but we’re keen to offer lawyers the ability to show their entrepreneurial spirit and develop their own business. As such, these hires all reflect that professionalism and ambition to drive the practice forward.’

Holleman was clear that there will be more arrivals: ‘This is an ongoing strategy, so we expect more quality hires to come. We’re keen on further investment in areas such as private equity, finance and tax, among others. Likewise, the focus often goes on the partners but we’re also bringing onboard counsel and associates. We’re keen to have strong growth across the ranks.’

Now may be seen as an inauspicious time to be embarking on expansion plans, given the widely anticipated slowdown in the global market. However, Holleman was confident in the firm’s ability to ride out any oncoming storms: ‘We’ve always been very focused in our expansion strategy and making the right investments at the right time. We’re fortunate that the firm is in a strong financial position so while short-term financial issues are always a consideration, we are always looking at what’s best for the practice in the long-term.’

Legal Business

Guest comment: Covid-19 and City regulators – The limits of forbearance

Forbearance is something of a dirty word in UK financial regulation, at least with regulators themselves. It describes a situation where watchdogs voluntarily exercise their discretion not to enforce rules or other requirements on the regulated. And that’s why they don’t like it – no regulator has ever prospered by giving its industry a free pass. Long-term pain for the regulator will outweigh any short-term gain to the industry as a whole.

Even so, you’d be forgiven for thinking the coronavirus crisis presents an ideal breeding ground for regulatory forbearance: a world-wide pandemic with seismic economic effects, stock markets tumbling, staff working remotely, and huge potential consumer detriment lurking around every corner.

So, if now isn’t the time for a little forbearance, when is?

But what’s interesting is how UK regulators are fulfilling their mandates. They’re walking a tightrope between two roles every parent will find familiar: allowing activity and setting expectations. Or, to put it another way, taking positive action to protect the industry and the economy, and ensuring firms meet their responsibilities. In that context, any forbearance is likely to be limited.

On the prudential side, regulators have taken steps aimed at giving firms more freedom to manoeuvre in financially testing times. In March 2020, the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) set the Counter-Cyclical Capital Buffer at 0%, freeing up capital for banks to lend, and the long lead-in period for implementing increases in the buffer mean that banks won’t need to hold capital against it again until March 2022 at the earliest.

And then comes the pro-active parenting, and it’s all about setting boundaries. Shortly after the FPC took its decision, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) made clear that it did not expect banks to use the additional capital freed up to pay dividends. And it noted any proposals to use those funds in bonus pools should be discussed, documented and (if necessary) challenged by boards and remuneration committees. Building on this stance, a joint letter from the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) dated 25 March encourages banks to keep lending.

The FCA has adopted a similar approach, making it clear that it is sympathetic to the impact COVID-19 will have on firms. It recognises that new modes of remote working are likely to place significant strain on compliance frameworks, and has asked firms to contact it to discuss matters if they are having difficulties.

But as with the PRA, the FCA’s approach also reinforces its expectations, and – consistent with its role as a conduct regulator – carries more dire warnings. In guidance issued to mortgage lenders, the FCA notes that any consumer who might have difficulty paying their mortgage due to coronavirus should be granted a three-month payment holiday. It goes on to say that lenders will likely breach rules on treating customers fairly if they start or continue possession proceedings, or seek to enforce a previously-obtained possession order against a consumer. Failure to follow the guidance, the FCA notes, may be relevant in an enforcement context.

Insurers are expected to take account of the changed circumstances in the way they write new business, process renewals and deal with claims. So, the FCA notes that in some cases a firm might not treat a customer fairly if it refuses to renew a policy, even if the product is being suspended. Likewise, the FCA does not expect motor and home insurers to reject claims that arise as a result of the new paradigm for home working.

Sitting behind this is the threat of enforcement, particularly at any suggestion of firms taking advantage of the current situation. Given the positive steps the authorities have taken to combat the crisis, the regulators will be on the look-out for poor behaviour that should be punished. If they find widespread misconduct then their approach may well become more directive. Parliament and society will expect no less.

We would all do well to remember that – as any parent will tell you – sympathy rapidly dissipates when confronted with wrong-doing. And in a regulated industry, arguments around forbearance won’t help if you find yourself on the wrong end of an intervention.

Robert Dedman is a partner at King & Spalding and former head of enforcement at the Bank of England/Prudential Regulation Authority

For more legal analysis on the coronavirus crisis, see ‘Guest comment: HSF disputes chief assesses the City litigation market’s Covid-19 response’ and click here for our latest coverage

Legal Business

Quinn breaks £100m City revenue barrier as King & Spalding hikes London revenue 15%

Disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has continued its impressive growth in the City, with revenue at the firm’s London office increasing 20% to £100.6m.

The US-bred firm also saw profits rise 11% to £67.2m, putting the office’s profit margin at 66.7%. The results cement Quinn’s place as ‘unquestionably the market leader in litigation-only practices in London,’ according to senior partner of the London office Richard East.

The revenue increase is an improvement on the firm’s impressive showing last year, when turnover increased 16% to £83.6m. However, profit growth was marginally ahead for 2018, growing 13% to £59.3m. The firm counts 19 partners in its London office and had 69 associates/of counsel at the end of 2019, up from 54 at the beginning of the year.

‘This has been another year of fantastic growth in London revenues with all areas of our practice contributing to our success,’ said Quinn co-managing partner Alex Gerbi. ‘We remain very ambitious and believe that we can continue to grow our market share and further entrench our position as the ‘go-to’ disputes firm.’’

The firm’s City performance has been driven by a number of standout disputes over the last year, including high-profile group action claims such as the Merricks v Mastercard dispute and the truck cartel investigation.

Meanwhile, fellow US outfit King & Spalding has also produced strong financial performance in the City. The firm increased London revenue 15% to $55.7m, an improvement on last year’s growth of 12% in its UK business. Firmwide revenues also saw growth, up 6.1% to $1.34bn, while profit per equity partner was up 5.4% to $3m. The global growth rate is down on last year, when the firm upped revenue 9%.

So far in 2020 US firms have disclosed robust financial performances for 2019. Morrison & Foerster kicked off the reporting season last month, when the firm revealed a 25% uptick in City revenue and a 10% revenue rise globally.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Insight – The arbitration market

Partners in King & Spalding’s London disputes team discuss their thoughts on some of the current trends and issues within the litigation and international arbitration markets

The disputes market

How has the disputes market changed in the last 20 years?

Legal Business

King & Spalding posts stronger year globally with UK revenue up 12%

US outfit King & Spalding notched a 12% growth in its UK business for 2018, with London revenue rising to $48.3m, up from $43.1m last year.

Meanwhile, firmwide revenues rose 9% to $1.26bn from $1.14bn in 2017, while firmwide profit per equity partner rose 9% to $2.85m. The results in London in particular mark a stronger performance for the firm, after only managing to inch revenue forward 1% last year from $42.6m to $43.1m.

Commenting on the results, King & Spalding’s London managing partner Tom Sprange QC said: ‘The firm identified London, alongside New York, as a key office for expansion so our figures, with increases in both revenue and headcount, show we are developing some genuine traction. The numbers are encouraging, of course, but expansion is an ongoing, evolving process – especially in a competitive legal market such as London. We are continuing this momentum into 2019 and beyond with further investments and quality additions across our transactional, disputes and investigations practices. It is a long-term strategy.’

The results mean between 2013 and 2018 the firm has recorded a 106% increase in London revenue. In 2018 the firm made three lateral partner hires in London with former Hogan Lovells partner Derek Meilman and ex-White & Case partner David Cox the standout transfers. London lawyer headcount for the firm currently stands at 54, while City revenues make up approximately 4% of the firm’s global turnover. It is not simply in size where the firm is gaining traction – in 2018 the firm acted on LCCG’s £1.8bn deal with Equitable Life, fielding a London-based team on the mandate.

‘We added high-quality partners across our international network in 2018, including in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia,’ said King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays. ‘We have good momentum but take nothing for granted.’

These results extend the narrative of US firms performing well in the City further, with White & Case scoring a 7% revenue increase to $350m in London while Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy recorded a pacey 25% uptick in City turnover.


Legal Business

Freshfields and King & Spalding secure mandates as Equitable Life completes its turnaround with £1.8bn sale

Equitable Life put pensions at risk when it nearly collapsed in 2000. But 18 years on it has completed its turnaround with Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG) agreeing to acquire the UK’s oldest life assurer for £1.8bn.

Equitable Life turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which fielded a team led by corporate insurance partner George Swan and included restructuring and insolvency specialists Neil Golding and Craig Montgomery.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Akin Gump and King & Spalding boost London benches while international lateral hiring continues apace

In a week dominated by European and international partner hires, US firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and King & Spalding were among four firms to add to their London benches with strategic additions in project finance and white-collar crime respectively.

After the coup of hiring former Financial Reporting Council (FRC) heavyweight Gareth Rees QC last September, King & Spalding has underscored its ambitions of being a serious corporate crime firm in London with the appointment of Aaron Stephens from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP).

Stephens had a 10-year stint as BLP’s head of corporate crime and investigations, representing various clients who were under investigation by regulatory bodies including the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Rees QC told Legal Business that the firm aims to recruit a five-strong team by the summer with the addition of an of counsel and a more junior associate. He commented: ‘We want to become recognised as an eminent white-collar team in London. Aaron’s hire is an incredibly strong contribution to that aim.’

‘He has a great reputation in the market. I asked my mates when the hire became a possibility, and it seems Aaron is very well-liked and well-respected, which is a good combination.’

Meanwhile,  Akin Gump has snapped up Julian Nichol from Bracewell in London as a partner in its global project finance practice. Nichol will focus on transactional energy and natural resources matters, having previously headed the EMEA power group and co-headed the firm-wide oil and gas practice at Bracewell. He advises investors from across EMEA looking to invest in the US and around the world, as well as international investors looking to invest in EMEA.

Elsewhere in London, Eversheds Sutherland lost real estate partner Anthony Van Hoffen to fellow City firm Lewis Silkin, while Carl Rohsler, Squire Patton Boggs’ head of IP litigation and gambling regulatory practices, left for Memery Crystal.

The week saw a flurry of activity in Europe, with Linklaters, Herbert Smith Freehills, Dentons and Orrick all adding laterals across the continent.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Frankfurt-based employment partner Timon Grau left to join fellow Magic Circle firm Linklaters in its employment practice out of Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Matthew Devey, who will be head of Linklaters’ employment practice group from 1 May onwards, said of Grau: ‘His expertise in fields that are of crucial importance to our German clients in particular – such as dealing with trade unions and works councils, matters concerning corporate bodies, compliance and crisis management as well as restructurings – will brilliantly add to our strengths in the field of providing strategic advice to international clients and dealing with cross-border matters.’

Meanwhile Herbert Smith Freehills boosted its Paris real estate practice, hiring Anne Petitjean as a partner from White & Case, where she had been a counsel for 11 years, advising on French and foreign investment funds, as well as institutional investors and developers on acquisitions of real property portfolios investments and project management.

Orrick’s hiring of Geneva and London-based arbitration partner James Hargrove was another loss to Eversheds Sutherland last week. Hargrove has advised on numerous arbitrations and litigation matters involving tech and telecoms, commodities and trade, energy, construction and financial sectors in London, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and other jurisdictions.  He also has a particular track record in Russia and CIS-related disputes.

Australian hires have focused on disputes, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Ashurst both making lateral hires in the space within a week.

Quinn Emanuel hired Michael Lundberg, former partner in charge and head of disputes at King & Wood Mallesons’ Perth office and head to its own team in Perth.

Meanwhile Ashurst bolstered its Canberra disputes bench with dispute resolution partner Melanie McKean from Norton Rose Fulbright. With 18 years under her belt, she has advised corporate and private clients, as well as acting on major investigations for the Australian government.

TMT partner Angela Summersby also joined Ashurst in Canberra from HWL Ebsworth to advise on Australian Government contracting, intellectual property, privacy and business process outsourcing.

Meanwhile Clyde & Co has made a key hire for its Middle Eastern strategy, appointing Marla Valdez as managing partner of its associated office with Fatma Al Mamari Advocacy and Legal Consultancy Firm in Oman. Formerly a partner at Dentons in Oman, Valdez will be joined by legal director Stephen McKenna, who is relocating from Clyde & Co’s Abu Dhabi office.