Legal Business

Revolving doors: Macfarlanes continues lateral hiring spree as DWF and Walkers make key appointments

Revolving doors: Macfarlanes continues lateral hiring spree as DWF and Walkers make key appointments

As Macfarlanes’ tightly focused business model goes from strength to strength amid testing market conditions, its rate of lateral hires has increased considerably. The firm’s latest recruit is in fact a re-hire, with Michael Parkinson re-joining Macfarlanes in October after four years as private client group partner at West End firm Russell-Cooke.

Parkinson trained and qualified at Macfarlanes before joining Russell-Cooke in 2009. His experience comprises advising high-net-worth individuals on private client wealth management issues including capital gains tax and inheritance tax matters, landed estates and heritage property and trust law.

Charles Martin, senior partner at Macfarlanes said: ‘He is an excellent addition to the practice, adding further depth to our capability and helping us to meet growing client demand domestically and globally, both in established and emerging markets.’

Parkinson is the second former Macfarlanes private client lawyer to re-join the firm as a partner in this summer. Charles Gothard, who was head of international private client at Speechly Bircham, returned to Macfarlanes in May. The firm has been on an impressive hiring spree of late, taking on Ashurst’s former head of construction, Anne Minogue, and Shearman & Sterling real estate partner Clare Breeze in recent weeks. Breeze’s arrival reverses the trend of large US practices recruiting from City firms and followed the hire of Akin Gump London investment funds partner Simon Thomas in February.

The hires come as the firm looks to seize opportunities on the back of yet another impressive year financially, posting a 12% increase in revenues for 2012/2013 from £102.2m to £114.2m. Profits per equity partner (PEP) were up 9% £985,000, while profit per lawyer at the firm stands at £158,000 – a rise of 7%.

Meanwhile, DWF has continued its highly acquisitive year by recruiting Wragge & Co partner Toby Askin to head its real estate team in London and Birmingham. The appointment will see Askin also take on the role of head of investment and funds with a specific focus on shopping centres and retail development.

Askin was promoted to Wragge’s partnership in 2008 and his experience involves the development, investment and funding of real estate projects within retail and the public sector as well as representing private equity funds.

His hire adds further real estate strength to DWF, which significantly enhanced its national capability after taking on 419 staff from stricken Cobbetts earlier in the year. The firm has embarked on a flurry of five mergers in just 18 months, increased its 2012/13 revenues by 85% to £188.2m and putting it in the top 25 firms in the UK.

Nic Crocker, national head of real estate at DWF said: ‘Over his career, Toby has worked on a large number of prestigious real estate projects – from the development of shopping centres and retail parks to acting for private equity funds on investment projects. His varied expertise means he is a key addition and well placed to lead our teams in London and Birmingham.’

Finally, in a rare lateral move between global offshore giants, investment funds specialist Dawn Howe has left Maples and Calder to joins Walkers as a partner in its global investment funds group. Howe will initially be based in Walkers’ London office, after which she will relocate to the firm’s headquarters in the Cayman Islands. Previously, she worked across Maples and Calder’s offices in both London and the Cayman Islands where she advised on the structuring of both hedge funds and private equity funds as well as related corporate transactional and regulatory work.

Her new team in London will be led by managing partner Jack Boldarin who relocated from Walkers’ Jersey office earlier this year. She will work alongside London-based investment funds partners, Jasmine Amaria, Anne Forbes-Harper and Hughie Wong, as well as investment funds specialist David Brennand, who recently joined from Sidley Austin in June.

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.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Macfarlanes, LG and Howes Percival boost commercial real estate as CMS takes on RPC reinsurance head

Revolving Doors: Macfarlanes, LG and Howes Percival boost commercial real estate as CMS takes on RPC reinsurance head

A resurgence in commercial real estate work has seen heightened lateral activity in the sector with hires by Macfarlanes, Lawrence Graham (LG) and Howes Percival in a week that has also seen CMS Cameron McKenna boosts its reinsurance capability with the hire of RPC head Simon Kilgour.

Macfarlanes continues to focus on growing its non-contentious construction and real estate practices with the hire of Ashurst’s head of construction, Ann Minogue.

Minogue, who has represented high-profile property companies including British Land, Chelsfield Partners, Hines, Stanhope and the Tate, joins the 312-lawyer firm after 20 years at top 15 rival Ashurst. Her arrival follows that of Clare Breeze who joined as a commercial real estate partner from Shearman & Sterling in July.

Speaking to Legal Business, senior partner Charles Martin (pictured) said the firm is ‘excited about the prospects for our commercial real estate practice.

‘Real estate is an obvious area for us. The commercial real estate world is seeing a significant increase in activity levels after a prolonged pretty quiet period. The competitive environment in this area has shown marked improvement from our perspective over the last year or so: the upper echelons of the legal rankings are by no means impregnable.’ Macfarlanes is currently ranked by Legal 500 as a third tier firm for commercial property and construction work in a table dominated by firms such as Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, Ashurst and Nabarro.

Ian Nisse, head of commercial real estate at Macfarlanes said Minogue’s ‘experience and expertise, alongside the existing team of Angus Dawson, Doug Wass, Simon Nurney and Andy Mather, will significantly add to the continued development of our construction and real estate practices.’

The hires come after Macfarlanes this year unveiled a 12% growth in turnover to £114.2m while profit per equity partner was up 9% to £985,000.

Also hiring in the real estate space is LG, which has taken on real estate finance specialist Judith Gershon from Davenport Lyons.

Gershon brings experience in debt, mezzanine, equity finance and bilateral and syndicated lending, having acted primarily for institutional lenders such as HSBC, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, Coutts, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Co-operative Bank and Handelsbanken. Before joining Davenport Lyons, Gershon led the real estate finance team in Eversheds Birmingham office.

LG’s head of finance, Nick Turner, said: ‘Judith brings with her deep experience advising some of the UK’s leading lenders. Her relationships with these banks are second to none and will complement our own excellent relationships with them.’

Gershon’s arrival is a boost to LG after the firm lost disputes heavyweight Eoin O’Shea to 1,584-lawyer firm Reed Smith and its financial results this year showed revenue declined for the third year running while PEP fell by 14% from £304,000 to £260,000.

The past week also saw Dentons’ construction and engineering partner Doug Masson re-join regional outfit Howes Percival as a consultant in its real estate team after leaving in 2008. Masson has advised high net worth individuals, SMEs and multinationals including NHBC, Westfield, Sainsbury’s and government departments.

Explaining his return to the firm, Masson said: ‘Howes Percival has always offered City quality legal advice but at extremely competitive regional rates. The firm’s high quality coupled with value for money is ideally suited to my clients, and to winning more.’

Elsewhere, international firm CMS has hired RPC’s head of reinsurance Simon Kilgour to join its City office – a move which managing partner Duncan Weston claims will add to the firm’s ‘big-ticket capabilities.’

Ed Foss, head of the insurance and reinsurance group, added that Kilgour’s ‘work for domestic and overseas insurers and reinsurers on complex, high value disputes and market issues complements our already strong market offering.

‘Worldwide, the industry faces a challenging environment characterised by increasingly global competition, regulatory oversight and a rising cost of capital. Simon’s experience will be a tremendous asset for this practice and its clients.’

Legal Business

Double digit growth for Macfarlanes as firm disputes ‘new normal’

Double digit growth for Macfarlanes as firm disputes ‘new normal’

A depressed transactional market in the UK has had little effect on the financial performance of Macfarlanes, with the high-performing City firm posting a 12% increase in revenues for 2012/2013 from £102.2m to £114.16m.

The firm, which recorded an 8% rise in revenues in 2011/2012, continues to be one of the most profitable firms in the City, with net income up 16% from £42.44m to £49.25m, equating to a PEP of £985,000 – an increase of 9% on 2011/2012. Profit per lawyer at the firm stands at £158,000 – a rise of 7%.

Commenting on the latest results, senior partner Charles Martin said: ‘Good results are the end result of focusing on client service and adapting to change – seizing opportunities.

‘We like to be efficient in the way the firm is run and offer value for money to our clients. Tough market conditions are here to stay. There is no “new normal”, just a need to be able to find opportunities and seize them.’

With 312 lawyers Macfarlanes is one of the smallest of the top 35 UK firms, with 50 equity partners and 21 non-equity partners. Corporate remains its largest practice by a long margin, accounting for around 30 partners, compared with 13 in finance, 10 in dispute resolution, nine in real estate and the remainder spread among the firm’s other practice areas.

The conservative firm is known for its organic approach to growth although recent years have seen it soften that position and this year it hired Shearman & Sterling real estate partner Clare Breeze and Akin Gump investment funds partner Simon Thomas. The firm has made concerted efforts to boost its presence in the hedge funds market and in 2012 took on all nine City employees of hedge fund firm D Harris Co International.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Olswang, Macfarlanes, Dechert, DWF and Weightmans in strategic partner hires

Revolving Doors: Olswang, Macfarlanes, Dechert, DWF and Weightmans in strategic partner hires

Macfarlanes and Dechert have made key strategic hires in the past few days while top 35, 382-lawyer UK firm Olswang has bolstered its City tax practice with the arrival of partner Andrew Quale from Eversheds.

Specialising in employee incentives and rewards, Quale has experience of advising multinational companies on the implementation of global incentive plans.

‘Andrew has already demonstrated an ability to build and develop a successful share schemes practice and team, despite a severe downturn in corporate work in the last few years,’ said Mark Joscelyne, head of tax at Olswang. The firm last week revealed a rise in revenue of 3% while profits per equity partner dropped by 4%.

This is the second partner Eversheds has lost this week, after it was announced earlier this week that equity capital markets head Neil Matthews is leaving to join Field Fisher Waterhouse in August.

Elsewhere, 289-lawyer top 35 UK firm Macfarlanes bucked the trend towards US firms tapping the UK’s finest with the hire of Shearman & Sterling real estate partner, Clare Breeze.

Breeze, whose clients include developers and investors such as Stanhope, AIG and Argent Estates, is Macfarlanes second hire from a US firm this year after taking on Akin Gump London investment funds partner Simon Thomas in February.

‘We are delighted to welcome Clare to a firm and practice area that are both thriving in these difficult markets. Real estate is a key area for us and we believe that significant opportunities exist for continued growth,’ said Macfarlanes senior partner Charles Martin.

Meanwhile, top 50 Global 100 US firm Dechert has bolstered its corporate practice in Paris with the hire of Matthieu Grollemund from fellow US firm Orrick Herrington & Suttcliffe.

A private equity specialist, Grollemund’s work includes CVC’s high profile Formula One IPO in which he has represented the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. His clients include a range of private equity houses and hedge funds including Wendel, 3i France and Fondations Capital and US/UK based firms including Bessemer, Accel and Index.

‘We are delighted to welcome Matthieu, who will allow us to expand our corporate practice and meet the current needs of our French and foreign clients both on inbound and outbound transactions,’ said Alain Decombe, managing partner of Dechert’s Paris office.

“Matthieu’s private equity experience is very complimentary to that of our global corporate team, which should result in additional practice synergies across Dechert’s international network,” said Henry Nassau, chair of Dechert’s global corporate practice.

In other news, acquisitive DWF, which last week reported a rise in turnover of 84% to £188m, has bolstered its corporate practice in Birmingham with the appointment of Squire Sanders partner Christian Lowis. His arrival brings DWF’s corporate offering to over 100 fee earners, with Lowis himself being a public company specialist. He has experience in M&A, disposals, takeovers and corporate governance.

‘As a team providing highly valued counsel to some of Britain’s biggest businesses, it is imperative that we continue to recruit only the best to our ranks,’ said Stephen Houston, national head of corporate at DWF.

The appointment of Lowis comes after DWF confirmed a redundancy consultation at the end of last month affecting up to 80 roles across Manchester, Coventry, Teeside and London.

Having revealed a rather more modest but respectable turnover increase of 6.4% this year, UK top 50 Weightmans has continued its run of lateral hires with the appointment of construction partner Tim Mould in the firm’s London office. Mould was a founding partner of boutique firm Hannah & Mould and specialises in complex construction disputes both in the UK and abroad.

‘We are delighted that Tim is joining the firm. He is a high calibre lawyer and true specialist in his field and brings a wealth of experience in both domestic and international work,’ said Charles Tomlinson, national head of construction and engineering at Weightmans.


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Legal Business

LB100 Macfarlanes: Swimming Against The Tide

LB100 Macfarlanes: Swimming Against The Tide

At the time of the first LB100, Macfarlanes was three years into a non-exclusive international alliance that included US firm O’Melveny & Myers, Paris-based Simeon & Associés (now part of Lovells), and Germany’s Noerr Stiefenhofer Lutz.

There were offices in Tokyo and Brussels, and indeed Julian Howard, now managing partner of the firm, was the partner in charge of the Tokyo outpost from 1992 to 1997.

Today, the business is a wholly different animal, having entirely bucked the trend and abandoned its alliance and international growth pretensions. In 20 years the firm’s turnover has nevertheless steadily crept in the right direction, from £28m then to £102.2m today, with the only blip being a plunge of more than 15% between 2008 and 2010.

Legal Business

Rule changes put transfer pricing practices centre stage

The increased global focus of governments on tax avoidance means a handful of international law firms have been pushing their transfer pricing practices to the fore recently.

In July Macfarlanes announced the appointment of Martin Zetter to the new role of head of transfer pricing and senior economist in its tax and structuring group. Zetter joined the firm from Ernst & Young, where he was a director in its financial services transfer pricing group.

Legal Business

FSA scrutiny increases financial service practitioners’ workload

Financial regulation partners are now in even higher demand as financial institution clients panic after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently fined former J.P. Morgan Cazenove banker Ian Hannam £450,000 for market abuse.

The financial watchdog issued the fine against Hannam after he allegedly shared financial information ahead of a deal, violating the so-called ‘wall-crossing’ rule.