Legal Business

Revolving doors: City laterals bounce back with Milbank, Weightmans and Lewis Silkin

Revolving doors: City laterals bounce back with Milbank, Weightmans and Lewis Silkin

City lateral recruitment regained momentum following a slow Christmas holiday break, with Milbank, Weightmans, and Lewis Silkin all making hires in London.

Milbank hired M&A partner Lisa O’Neill from McDermott Will & Emery in London. O’Neill has experience in corporate and energy transactions with clients including FTSE 250 companies, international and independent oil & gas companies, financial institutions, global investment firms and private equity funds.

Global head of corporate group Norbert Rieger commented: ‘The addition of Lisa underscores our commitment to growing our global M&A practice at the highest levels in the market. She is well respected and knowledgeable in a range of industries, and her depth of experience advising corporates on sophisticated M&A transactions will be invaluable to our clients.’

Also in the City, Weightmans doubled up with the hires of healthcare partner Kiran Sekhon and criminal regulatory partner Lili Oliver.

Sekhon joins the firm as a healthcare partner from Capsticks and has over 17 years’ experience in medical defence litigation. Oliver, meanwhile, joins from Clyde & Co where she was head of corporate risk in the safety, health and environmental department.

Partner and head of Weightmans’ London office Tim Lang told Legal Business: ‘Lili and Kiran are true leaders in their fields and great additions to our fast-growing London offering. [We have] almost 20 new partners across the firm this year alone, and we are looking forward to continuing this momentum into next year.’

Elsewhere, Lewis Silkin hired planning partner Sara Hanrahan to its real estate practice group as head of the planning team from Blake Morgan, where she was also head of planning.

Hanrahan has experience in advising clients in the public and private sector on contentious and non-contentious planning matters and has advised private developers, infrastructure and utilities firms, retails and leisure operators and high net worth investors.

Managing partner Giles Crown told Legal Business: ‘We were looking to deepen our offering and fill in gaps in certain key areas and one aspect of that was a fairly long standing search to replace planning expertise. There are a number of aspects of what we were looking for that Sara very ably fulfills.’

The team focuses on four core areas, corporate occupiers, retail including luxury and leisure, development work and investor work including family and high net worth individuals.

Hanrahan told Legal Business: ‘I do have experience in the four areas of real estate that the firm is looking to develop. I think therefore the synergy with the experience I have and the vision that the firm has for the next few years goes together very well.’

In Birmingham, Hogan Lovells office head Michael Gallimore left the firm to join boutique planning law firm Town Legal as partner.

Gallimore joined Hogan Lovells as partner in 1988 and was head of planning between 1998 and 2016 before becoming head of the firm’s Birmingham office in 2017.

Gallimore told Legal Business: ‘I had come to the end of my period heading up the office in Birmingham, so it was a natural point for me to consider what I wanted to do going forward and the opportunity arose to join Town Legal. I was very keen to get back into client facing work and I knew a number of partners from Town Legal.

‘The big advantage of the firm is that it’s absolutely focused on planning work and therefore the level of investment that they’re able to make, the strong commitment and the depth of experience that they’ve got in the planning field was a real attraction. They’re not diverted by other practice areas.’

In December, Hogan Lovells also lost its planning team head Claire Dutch to Ashurst.

Finally, Dentons added partner Robert Weber from White & Case to its corporate practice in Germany.

Weber has more than 20 years’ experience in stock corporation law and related capital markets law. Managing partner of the German office Andreas Ziegenhagen said: ‘The fact that we are investing both in classic fields of advice such as stock corporation law, and in future-oriented, technology-supported legal advice reflects the dynamic development of our German practice.’

Legal Business

Travers’ private equity star Dolman joins Summerfield at the corporate helm

Travers’ private equity star Dolman joins Summerfield at the corporate helm

Travers Smith has appointed Paul Dolman as co-head of corporate in addition to his existing role of head of private equity and financial sponsors.

The well-respected Dolman joins the influential Spencer Summerfield, who has been sole head of corporate since 2013, on a joint ticket to lead Travers’ M&A, private equity and equity capital markets practices.

Dolman told Legal Business: ‘I am honoured to be given the chance to run the corporate team. That isn’t to say that my focus is going to move away from leading the private equity and financial sponsors group and being heavily involved in fee earning. I certainly think there is an opportunity for me to use the skill set that I have developed doing that, for the benefit of the wider corporate group as a whole.’

‘The M&A market has been slightly subdued for the last 24 months. But I think people are now getting to the stage where the break is coming off, and activity levels are ramping up.’

Former tax head Kathleen Russ also on Monday (1 July) took over from Chris Hale as senior partner, a move first announced last November. Hale had held the role since 2013 having been re-elected in March 2017.

Russ commented: ‘Clients are at the heart of our business. As the firm’s new senior partner, I am keen to build on our strong client relationships and ensure we continue to deliver a first-rate service to clients across all areas of expertise.’

The firm’s managing partner David Patient said: ‘Kath and I share a strong commitment to our firm’s values and culture, and I very much look forward to working alongside her more closely going forward, in what promises to be an exciting new chapter for the firm.’

Meanwhile, Ian Jeffery will be stepping down in September as chief executive officer of Lewis Silkin after 15 years. Jeffery will continue as partner and will focus on the development of new legal service ventures.

Jeffery said: ‘With Lewis Silkin in great shape and full of potential for the future, I believe that after fifteen years of firm-wide leadership responsibility, a planned transition this year is in the interests of both the firm and myself, allowing a refreshed leadership team to refine and deliver the business plan for the next three years and giving me the opportunity to focus on venture opportunities in an exciting period for the legal industry and our markets.’

Lewis Silkin will be under a new leadership structure, with the joint management of partners Giles Crown and Richard Miskella. They are currently divisional managing partners for the firm’s Creators, Makers and Innovators (CMI) division and Employment, Immigration and Reward (EIR) division respectively.

For more on Travers’ improbable rise, read Defying Gravity

Legal Business

‘Real opportunity in Ireland’: Lewis Silkin becomes fourth firm to open in Dublin post-Brexit vote

‘Real opportunity in Ireland’: Lewis Silkin becomes fourth firm to open in Dublin post-Brexit vote

City firm Lewis Silkin is to follow in the footsteps of Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons by launching a Dublin office.

The new outpost, which will focus on Lewis Silkin’s core strength of employment law, is set to open on 3 April. To staff the new office it has hired employment specialist Siobhra Rush , who will join from local firm Leman Solicitors. On launch, Rush will be supported by London-based partner Sean Dempsey, with fellow City associates Catherine Hayes and David Hopper offering reinforcements when needed.

Lewis Silkin’s chair Michael Burd told Legal Business that Brexit was a factor in the firm’s decision to open in the country: ‘We have found that clients are looking for a joined-up Irish-UK service. We also have some concern about what will happen in the UK after Brexit but the real driver was client demand.’

He added: ‘We think that there is a real opportunity in the Irish market for this kind of niche firm and we are keen to capitalise on it. So far the reception has been very positive.’

For expansion-shy Lewis Silkin, opening only its second office outside of the UK is a major step, with the firm possessing offices in London, Oxford, Cardiff and Hong Kong. Burd observed: ‘We don’t see ourselves as a world behemoth.’

Pinsent Masons became the first firm to open in Ireland following the Brexit referendum in 2016, launching a three partner office in June 2017. But unlike Lewis Silkin, Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley confirmed ‘it wasn’t a Brexit thing’ and that the decision was made before the UK voted to leave the EU.

Last September, Covington opened its own Dublin office, focusing on regulation, pharma and life sciences. London-based EU life sciences partner Grant Castle and technology partner Daniel Cooper were selected to oversee the new hub.

Simmons opened in Dublin a month later, with a practice initially focusing on asset management. Mason Hayes & Curran’s head of investment funds and financial regulation Fionán Breathnach was drafted in to lead Simmons’ Irish venture.


Legal Business

‘Long-term growth’: Lewis Silkin appoints CMS director of change

‘Long-term growth’: Lewis Silkin appoints CMS director of change

Lewis Silkin has appointed Graeme Wood as chief operating officer (COO) from CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, ‘to support long term growth’ at the firm.

The hire comes 18 months after the firm unveiled a new strategy to invest in complementary and related non-legal services, and a plan to grow its employment, immigration and reward practices.

Wood was appointed director of change at Nabarro last February, as that firm looked to release more management time.

Previously, Wood was a senior manager in business services at Linklaters, where he was appointed finance and shared services head in 2013. While there, he set up the firm’s shared services centre in Warsaw.

Wood told Legal Business that the ‘strategy is that rather than growing through combining, which is what many firms are doing, we are focusing more on the particular strengths and deeper the existing relationships and grow from there.’

Wood’s role will be overseeing a large part of the back office support of the firm’s growth and efficiency. ‘A lot of clients are very happy with the legal advice and service they get, but they’re looking for innovation and improvement on how that advice is delivered. My role is to look at those areas moving forward,’ he added.

Ian Jeffery, a partner and Lewis Silkin’s CEO, said that Wood’s expertise in business transformation and management will ‘prove invaluable as we continue to evolve the firm and cement our position as a trusted, innovative legal and commercial advisor for clients.’

Last November, Lewis Silkin represented Addleshaw Goddard’s former head of real estate Mark Haywood after the firm launched arbitration proceedings against him. The action began two years after he left the firm for Nabarro to set up its Manchester office.

In June 2016, Lewis Silkin represented Nissan on an injunction application against pro-Brexit campaign group Vote Leave, after the group used Nissan’s logo in a leaflet.

More recently, in April 2017, Lewis Silkin was appointed to British Telecom’s legal panel, after a delayed review which kicked off last July. The new panel will run for three years until 2020.

Legal Business

Brexit battle: Nissan engages Lewis Silkin to sue Vote Leave campaign


Lewis Silkin is representing Nissan as it applies for an injunction against pro-Brexit campaign group Vote Leave.

Mid-sized firm Lewis Silkin is acting for Nissan as the car giant brings an action to the High Court today (20 June) against Vote Leave, after the out campaign group used Nissan’s logo in a leaflet.

Lewis Silkin divisional managing partner Giles Crown (pictured) is leading a team acting for the car giant.

Crown, who spent five years at a barrister at media chambers One Brick Court before joining Lewis Silkin, is a media and reputation management specialist.

He has also been instructed on landmark IP cases inlcuding for mobile operator 3 against O2, and Whirlpool Corporation in a dispute with Kenwood over cake mixers.

Nissan says the Brexit group has used the manufacturer’s name and logo on its literature and website without its permission, even after it was requested Vote Leave remove it.

The logo appeared in pro-leave material alongside other global manufacturers in a section asking, ‘Would jobs be at risk?’. The leaflet used the logo next to a caption that said ‘major employers … have all said they’ll stay in the UK whatever the result of the referendum’.

The company said: ‘Permission to use our name and logo was not requested. If it was, it would not have been granted.

‘To be clear, Nissan is not supporting any political campaign regarding this most serious of issues. This is a matter for the British public to decide.’

The firm said it had issued legal proceedings calling for an injunction and an end to ‘further false statements and representations concerning Nissan’.

Nissan said the request for Vote Leave to stop using their name ‘has been clearly denied’.

Vote Leave did not respond for comment.

Legal Business

Lewis Silkin on wrong end of £2m judgment for negligent advice to cricket CEO


A High Court judge has found that Lewis Silkin was negligent in advising Tim Wright, the former CEO of an Indian Premier League cricket franchise, on his employment contract and has handed down a judgment for damages of £2m against the firm.

Wright, who was installed as CEO of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited in 2008 after the group bought a cricket franchise to launch in the now lucrative annual Indian Twenty20 cricket tournament, was fired following the financial crash but his advisers had not included a jurisdiction clause in his £10m severance guarantee.

Wright had instructed Lewis Silkin’s joint head of employment Michael Burd to advise him draw up the necessary paperwork ahead of taking the post.

After being dismissed, it took more than two years for the jurisdiction battle to be finally determined in Wright’s favour and, despite obtaining a judgment from the High Court in 2012, his attempts to enforce it have been snarled up in the Indian courts. Wright claimed that had his contract contained an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of England and Wales, then he would have had a judgment earlier and a real and substantive chance of forcing Deccan to pay the award.

While Burd claimed that the absence of a jurisdiction clause in Wright’s contract was a deliberate omission after he had advised the on the ‘pros and cons’ of specifying a particular jurisdiction, Wright claimed no such advice was ever given.

Last week Mr Justice Hamblen ruled that Burd had given no such advice and had ‘reconstructed’ his memory on a number of occasions since the matter was first brought to his attention in 2009.

In awarding Wright £2m in damages, the judge held that the claimant had a real and substantive chance of enforcing the £10.3m judgment obtained in 2012 at the High Court in London, had he not been given negligent advice. He ruled: ‘I find that Mr Burd did not advise Mr Wright in relation to jurisdiction matters. Alternatively, if he did, he did not do so in sufficiently clear and explicit terms for Mr Wright to appreciate that this was an issue and, moreover, one which required consideration and advice. In all the circumstances I find that Lewis Silkin was in breach of duty in failing to advise Mr Wright properly or at all in relation to jurisdiction matters.’

Wright was represented by Nicholas Davidson QC of 4 New Square and Muhammed Haque QC of Crown Office Chambers, who were instructed by Rosenblatt disputes partner Simon Walton. Lewis Silkin was represented by Michael Pooles QC of Hailsham Chambers and George Spalton of 4 New Square, who were instructed by DWF disputes partner John Bennett.

A spokesperson for Lewis Silkin said: ‘We are naturally very disappointed with the judgment. The claim relates to advice given more than six years ago in 2008, and in relation to which Mr Burd was found by the judge to be a truthful witness.  The claim has been vigorously defended and the amount awarded is substantially less than the amount sought by the claimant, who lost on his primary claim relating to security. We are carefully considering our position in relation to the judgment and in particular the possibility of an appeal.’

Legal Business

International ambitions: City firm Lewis Silkin launches first overseas office in Hong Kong


City firm Lewis Silkin has this morning (30 April) announced the opening of an office in Hong Kong in a bid to ‘support the rapidly expanding employment and global mobility needs’ of its clients in the Asia-Pacific region.

Having received approval by the Law Society of Hong Kong as a registered foreign law firm, the new office will be the firm’s fourth alongside London, Oxford and Cardiff.

Based within the Universal Trade Centre, located in Hong Kong’s Central District, the team is led by immigration and global mobility partner Antonia Grant and includes senior associate Scott Anderson and trainee Li Xiang, as well as additional professional and support staff.

Lewis Silkin managing partner Ian Jeffery said: ‘The opening of our new office in Hong Kong is a major milestone for our firm, and a natural next step in our evolution. Given that many of our clients have significant business interests in the region, establishing a team there ensures that we are best positioned to support their ever-changing employment and global mobility needs across the region.’

The firm’s co-head of employment James Davies added: ‘Building from a position of strength as one of the UK’s leading employment law firms, our new Hong Kong office represents a logical extension of our already market-leading offer. Many international organisations find the landscape for employment law across Asia-Pacific particularly challenging and complex. Working with Ius Laboris and its member firms across the region, clients now have access to an even more comprehensive and integrated network of employment law expertise spanning the globe.’

The rush of activity to Asia of late includes Nabarro’s hire of senior disputes partner Steven Lim, the founder and managing director of Clyde & Co Clasis, to head its Singapore office, while Hogan Lovells this week announced it will expand its Tokyo corporate practice with the recruit of Wataru Kamoto from local boutique Hibiya-Nakata.

Legal Business

Financials 2013/14: Penningtons Manches, Lewis Silkin and Farrer & Co post results


A trio of LB 100 firms have posted financial results for the 2013/14 year, with newly combined Penningtons Manches revealing revenue of £46.6m while profit per equity partner (PEP) came in at £268,000.

For Penningtons, it’s been a year of significant change. In October the firm took over troubled private client firm Manches as the latter entered into administration. The agreement saw 265 Manches employees, including 46 partners officially move to Penningtons in a pre-pack deal brokered by PwC. However, the combined firm this year has only three additional equity partners compared to Penningtons total prior to the takeover in 2013.

Manches had been earmarked for a merger by the LB100 last summer, after falling 11 places to 93 with revenues down 13% to £26.3m and PEP by 43% to £134,000. Penningtons ranked higher at 82, bringing in £32.5 million with a PEP of £275,000.

Nearly ten months on since the takeover, and having acquired offices in Reading and Oxford, managing partner David Raine is feeling positive about the move so far and says: ‘Integration has gone really well with Manches. The previous life seems an age ago. Most of us are under one roof now but it feels longer than six months. The teams are working together in the same sectors – that’s been a great help and heartening to see people sharing assistance and cross selling.’

The firm’s business services division accounted for 40% of fee income, while real estate and private client generated 24% and 36% respectively. Raine adds: ‘We’re delighted with how various parts of the firm did better, particularly with all the disruption from the combination with Manches. There were office moves, changes with IT systems … there was a lot happening.’

Meanwhile, city firm Lewis Silkin posted disappointing results, and recorded broadly flat revenue that rose just 1% to £41.4m, while PEP significantly dropped 15% from £344,000 to £291,000. A breakdown of the firm’s financials saw its employment reward & immigration practice generate 40% in fee income while its media brands and technology practice accounted for 25%.

Lastly, private client-focused Farrer & Co recorded a slight decline in revenue to £50.7m from £50.8m, while profit per equity partner increased by 3% to £440,000.