Legal Business

Rising star: Latham hires Clifford Chance private equity partner Tom Evans

Rising star: Latham hires Clifford Chance private equity partner Tom Evans

Latham & Watkins has secured another heavyweight hire in London with the announcement that Tom Evans, a newly made up partner in Clifford Chance’s (CC) private equity group, is joining the firm’s corporate department.

Evans, who has been tipped as a rising star in the private equity field, follows David Walker, former global head of private equity at CC, who left to join Latham in May. The 2033-lawyer US firm has also made a series of other high profile lateral hires this year, including Dean Naumowicz, former head of derivatives at Norton Rose Fulbright, and Simon Bushell, former co-chair of corporate fraud at Herbert Smith Freehills.The London office now has 250 lawyers including 60 partners.

Nick Cline (pictured), Latham’s London managing partner, said: ‘Tom is widely regarded as a rising star and has a broad range of experience that will make him an excellent addition to the firm and particularly our private equity practice.

‘While we have seen improvements in liquidity in European leveraged finance bank lending, accessing the high yield and US bank finance markets is increasingly attractive for European private equity deals. We have a very strong global platform and a leading financing practice that presents exciting opportunities for us to grow our top tier private equity practice.’

‘Tom’s arrival will further strengthen our presence in London, a key market for our global private equity and corporate practice,’ added Daniel Lennon, global chair of Latham’s corporate department.

Latham’s private equity clients include The Carlyle Group, Advent International, BC Partners, KKR, Charterhouse, Nordic Capital and PAI Partners. Walker’s hire was widely believed to be part of Latham’s drive to cement its relationship with the Carlyle Group in Europe, as the fund is a major client of the veteran CC lawyer.

Recent private equity deals for Latham’s London office include The Carlyle Group’s acquisitions of Addison Lee and Chesapeake Packaging, BC Partners’ acquisition of Allflex Holdings and Leonard Green & Partners’ acquisition of Topshop.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Trainee retention: Macfarlanes & Latham reveal numbers

Trainee retention: Macfarlanes & Latham reveal numbers

Macfarlanes has become the latest City firm to decide on its trainee retention rates, with 18 out of 24 trainees – equating to 75% – being offered a permanent position at the firm.

The figure, which represents a dip on last year’s near full house of 92%, comes after three trainees were not offered a position, however two trainees did not apply for a job with the firm and one declined the permanent newly-qualified (NQ) role on offer.

According to senior partner Charles Martin, the drop in retention this year is due to a number of factors, including the preferences of those qualifying not matching the opportunities on offer, which are in turn driven by client demand and strategic priorities.

Martin said: ‘Recruiting, training and retaining the very best legal talent is fundamental to giving our clients the excellence which they expect of us. Graduate recruitment is the cornerstone of the firm. Unlike others, we have not reduced our trainee numbers materially nor do we intend to do so.

‘We are always very mindful of our wider responsibilities when we recruit for our trainee scheme. We aim for as high a level of retention as possible. The investment that is made on both sides also creates a strong incentive to make this work. Poor retention is bad business.’

The news comes as Latham & Watkins yesterday reported a retention rate of 93% after offering 13 of its 14 trainees a permanent position. The world’s third largest firm by revenue has said it will increase its trainee intake numbers, in contrast with firms including the Magic Circle’s Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance.

Retention rates among the City’s leading firms have been largely respectable to good this round, with Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer all unveiling a rate of over 80% and Slaughter and May topping the chart at 90%, although Allen & Overy trailed its rivals on 72% and announced it is to cut its trainee intake by 15% in 2015.

However, the validity of this round’s rates are being called into question following the revelation that firms including Field Fisher Waterhouse have within their so-called retention rate offered a number of NQs only a 12-month fixed term contract.

 

caroline.hill@legalease.co.uk

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Latham, Sidley and Skadden lead the US pack in Legal 500 research

Latham, Sidley and Skadden lead the US pack in Legal 500 research

Often hailed as one of the greatest US success stories of the last 25 years, new research underlines the elevated position Latham & Watkins has attained in the world’s largest legal market.

The Legal 500 United States 2013 edition shows Latham as the highest ranked law firm judged by the total number of recommendations, putting the Los Angeles-bred giant ahead of a string of top Wall Street firms.

The 600-partner firm received recommendations in 55 practice areas. Recommendations are calculated by the research team of The Legal 500 based on client and peer feedback and the submissions of the firms themselves, and take into account multiple factors including track record in winning cases, the complexity of deals and innovation. Latham received 20 top-tier recommendations, including listings in areas such as capital markets (equity offerings and high-yield debt offerings), project finance (lenders and sponsors), energy (renewable and transactions) and telecoms and broadcast (regulatory and transactional).

Legal Business

And the most upwardly mobile law firm is? Client feedback pushes Latham to the top of Legal 500’s US edition

Often hailed as one of the greatest US success stories of the last 25 years, new research underlines the elevated position Latham & Watkins has attained in the world’s largest legal market.

The Legal 500 United States 2013 edition shows Latham as the highest ranked law firm judged by the total number of recommendations, putting the Los Angeles-bred giant ahead of a string of top Wall Street firms.

The 600-partner firm received recommendations in 55 practice areas. Recommendations are calculated by the research team of The Legal 500 based on client and peer feedback and the submissions of the firms themselves, and take into account multiple factors including track record in winning cases, the complexity of deals and innovation. Latham received 20 top-tier recommendations, including listings in areas such as capital markets (equity offerings and high-yield debt offerings), project finance (lenders and sponsors), energy (renewable and transactions) and telecoms and broadcast (regulatory and transactional).

Sidley Austin came out in second place for total recommendations, with 52 listings. Only shortly behind in third place with 51 total recommendations was New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, followed by Morrison & Foerster with 49. Fifth-ranked Covington & Burling had 44 recommendations, with the latter benefiting from the sharp increase in regulatory work in its Washington DC heartland.

The picture is different when it comes to top-tier recommendations, with Latham leading the pack just ahead of a group of elite New York law firms. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett came out in second place with 17 top-tier recommendations, Skadden in third place with 16, and Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sullivan & Cromwell followed with an equal 14.

Notably, Hogan Lovells, which as pre-merger Hogan & Hartson had 14 recommendations in 2009, now occupies 13th position in the total recommendations table with 36 listings and joint tenth for top-tier recommendations with seven listings.

The recently published findings also underline the continued relative lack of penetration by London’s top firms in the US. In 37th place, Clifford Chance, with established offices in New York and Washington DC, is the highest-ranking Magic Circle firm for total recommendations. Allen & Overy ranks 68th, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 71st place and Linklaters in 84th place.

The Legal 500 currently ranks just over 300 leading law firms in the US. The Legal 500 publishing director David Burgess commented: ‘If you think how long it’s taken for the Magic Circle firms to get a foothold in the US, it doesn’t bode well for Herbert Smith Freehills in New York. Considering their size, quality and global footprint, it’s clear that the Magic Circle firms are not resonating as well with clients as they would expect, or like to.’

 

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Global 100: Latham & Watkins

Global 100: Latham & Watkins

Despite facing considerable reverses in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis – which saw a sharp fall in revenues and profits in its 2009 financial year – the US-based Latham & Watkins looks to have settled back into a solid upward track.

The Los Angeles-bred firm had another robust year in 2012, reinforcing its position among the global elite with a 6% growth in net profits to over $1bn. After achieving top quartile growth for the 2011 financial year, revenue growth was this time more subdued, rising 3% to $2.22bn while profit per equity partner (PEP) rose by 8% to $2.4m. In the last full boom year of 2007, Latham posted revenues of $2bn, against PEP of $2.27m.

Legal Business

Comment: A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

Comment: A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

The worlds of business, politics and sport have since the 1970s fallen increasingly under the spell of the star individual and law has been anything but an exception. As partnership mitigates the heaviest excesses of the winner-takes-all compensation cultures seen in banking, sports and plc management, in law the star culture has manifested to a considerable extent via the partner recruitment market.

The emergence and massive expansion of this international bazaar for senior legal talent over the last 25 years has had a profound impact on the profession – often unhappily so.

This has happened despite widespread acknowledgement that the returns on partner recruitment are patchy – a finding backed by a significant and growing body of research. Compared to internal candidates, external recruits are more expensive even without counting direct recruitment costs, prone to fail in the first two years and more likely to leave. Added to which is the fundamental difficulty of accurately identifying and then persuading key business influencers to move.

Sound familiar?

Yet if such problems are rife in the legal profession, the impact of the sustained downturn in Western economies has done little to deflate the partner bubble. If anything, the upwardly mobile US law firms that have increasingly defined the partner recruitment market at home and abroad have pushed this merry-go-round towards even more aggressive levels.

And this has happened during a period in which the record of partner recruitment has arguably become worse not better. When partners first began moving in the late 1980s, a path was provided for ambitious and driven individuals to find better platforms or just check out of firms going nowhere. Those hires generally did well because there was a clear economic rationale for the move on both sides. The last decade has seen the emergence of a genuinely sideways market for partners who are just moving, well, laterally.

That’s not to suggest that all of this recruitment is irrational. Some firms have used partner recruitment to effectively super-charge their growth, with Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and DLA Piper being among the most striking examples in recent years. The poor overall performance of lateral recruitment has always masked the vast discrepancies in individual performance.

Here is our assessment of the track record of partner recruitment: a small group of firms use it very effectively to deliver great results. A much larger group gets returns barely worth the effort once you account for the time and costs of recruitment. What’s left is another minority that performs so badly that firms in the club actually damage their business. But law – like many fields – remains poor at identifying the formula for success.

We consider the experience of a handful of the transferring partners that have excelled in this month’s edition and there are common factors in what makes a star signing an actual success, but it’s never easy. In essence, firms should be strongly biased towards organic progression unless there is a compelling, clear strategic reason to go to market. Then you must have a senior candidate that actually fits the bill and is energised about the opportunity of your team. The best lawyers don’t do it for the money or a home. They do it for the game. They play to win.

alex.novarese@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Latham picks up three-partner Shearman team for Düsseldorf launch

Latham & Watkins is to further expand its German corporate capability with the launch of a Düsseldorf office after hiring a three-partner team from US rival Shearman & Sterling.

Corporate and M&A partners Harald Selzner, Rainer Wilke and Martin Neuhaus will spearhead the new office, while Latham has also hired Shearman corporate litigator Markus Rieder to join its Munich office.

The hires – which come following Shearman’s announcement that it is to close its Düsseldorf and Munich offices  – are in line with Latham’s strategy to extend its corporate reach.

According to Munich managing partner (MP) Thomas Fox – who will also serve as the new MP of Düsseldorf – the firm is looking for German partners with German connections that can raise the firm’s client base with the likes of DAX 30 companies. Those include Eon, holding company Tengelmann Group, car manufacturer Daimler and Allianz, as well as large family-owned German mid-sized companies.

The new corporate team, which will be boosted by the transfer to Düsseldorf of Frankfurt litigation partner Christine Gartner, will advise on domestic and cross-border M&A and high end public company representation and complex disputes matters. The new office is expected to open at the end of May. Latham also has a presence in Hamburg and Frankfurt.

Latham’s chair and managing partner Robert Dell said: ‘We are focused on growing our business with blue chip industrials and other multinational companies, and this team fits our strategy perfectly. Our newest office in Düsseldorf, one of the world’s major industrial centers and a hub for manufacturing excellence and innovation, will be a key gateway for the strategic growth of our corporate capability.’

Joerg Kirchner, vice chair of Latham & Watkins’ global corporate department added: ‘The anticipated arrival of this team follows several significant lateral partner additions in London, continental Europe and the US; all of whom bring profound talents and will contribute significantly to the growth of our corporate and litigation capability.’

Allen & Overy recently hired Shearman Düsseldorf corporate partner Hans Diekmann for its local office.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk 

Legal Business

Global London advances – Latham secures third senior City recruit of the year

Global London advances – Latham secures third senior City recruit of the year

Latham & Watkins has recruited high-profile Norton Rose derivatives and structured finance partner Dean Naumowicz as the US giant makes its third senior City hire of the year.

Naumowicz was part of the Norton Rose team that in March advised Società di Progetto Brebemi on the financing for a €2.338bn toll motorway project. Other recent deals in which he has advised include acting for lenders UK Green Investment Bank, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Siemens Bank on a £225m financing in the renewables sector.

The news comes only a month after Latham’s 52-partner City arm recruited Clifford Chance head of private equity David Walker.The 600-partner firm earlier this year also recruited Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) litigation partner Simon Bushell. Bushell co-chaired HSF’s London corporate fraud and asset tracing practice and was head of the firm’s crisis management practice.

Commenting on the appointment, London managing partner Nick Cline said: ‘Dean is an outstanding lawyer and we are very pleased that he will be joining our derivatives and financial institutions team. His move is another marker of Latham’s continued growth and development in London.’

Norton Rose told Legal Business that partner Laurence Garside will lead the firm’s derivatives team in London in Naumowicz’s place.

Norton Rose head of banking Jeremy Edwards stressed the firm’s recent growth in finance commenting: ‘We have continued to grow our debt capital markets team with the addition of David Shearer from Allen & Overy, Peter Young from Vinson & Elkins and structured finance specialist Simon Lew from Clifford Chance in London. We have also grown our debt capital markets team internationally, for example, Scott Millar and Tessa Hoser have joined us in Australia, Ji Liu in Hong Kong, and Andrew Bleau recently relocated from Canada to our Hong Kong debt capital markets team.’

A group of leading US law firms have made strategic inroads in the City in recent years with Latham, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Dechert displaying particularly expansive form of late. The trend looks set to continue throughout 2013.

caroline.hill@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

The worlds of business, politics and sport have since the 1970s fallen increasingly under the spell of the star individual and law has been anything but an exception. As partnership mitigates the heaviest excesses of the winner-takes-all compensation cultures seen in banking, sports and plc management, in law the star culture has manifested to a considerable extent via the partner recruitment market.

Legal Business

White & Case launches in Madrid with Latham hire

White & Case has launched its first office in Spain, recruiting Latham & Watkins’ Spanish corporate head Juan Manuel de Remedios to joint lead its new Madrid office as an executive partner.

The Spanish launch comes as the firm concentrates on strengthening its global footprint to take advantage of Spain’s strong links to Latin America.

White & Case Spanish practice head Michael Doran, who is based in London, said the Madrid launch ‘provides our clients with local knowledge coupled with access to our global network’.