Legal Business

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

Mayer Brown and Reed Smith are continuing their recent expansion trajectories, this time at the expenses of Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF)’s London base and Pinsent Masons’ Middle East operations.

NRF saw the exit of one of its most senior London partners as veteran litigator Sam Eastwood headed for the door after three decades to join Mayer Brown.

Investigations and compliance partner Jason Hungerford has also left NRF for the Chicago-bred shop after seven years.

Eastwood joined legacy Norton Rose in 1989 and most recently acted as the firm’s business ethics and anti-corruption head after launching the group in 2008. Specialising in anti-bribery and regulatory compliance work, he played a key role in securing engineering company IMI as a client for NRF in 2015, becoming one of the company’s relationship partners.

Hungerford, who is dual qualified in the UK and US, joined NRF as a senior associate in 2011 after a spell at White & Case’s Washington DC base. He advises clients on government and internal investigations as well as compliance programmes related to US, UK and EU economic sanctions, export controls, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws.

Ian McDonald, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s litigation and dispute resolution practice, told Legal Business that Eastwood was ‘an ideas person’: ‘He is somebody who has built that practice at NRF and I am always attracted by people who have thinking and ideas, not just clients and existing business.’

Of Hungerford he said: ‘In addition to the white collar side he has a particular expertise in sanctions and global trade. In a world where we have Trump throwing sanctions around like confetti and Brexit we anticipate that’s an area that will grow.’

The hires will replenish Mayer Brown’s London litigation practice after partner Tom Duncan quit for Ashurst at the beginning of the month.

Mayer Brown has been in expansion mode this year, hiring Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson London finance head Stuart Brinkworth to its City bench and Allen & Overy’s global co-head of leveraged finance Scott Zemser in New York.

For its part, NRF had a bumpy first half of 2018, losing a number of partners in the US and Asia.

Meanwhile, Pinsents lost its Middle East head Sachin Kerur, who will now lead Reed Smith’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi operations.

Kerur will join Reed Smith together with Pinsents’ construction partner Michelle Nelson, a move which reunites the duo with former Pinsents’ arbitration partner Shourav Lahiri, who left the firm in 2013 to launch his own Singapore shop.

Reed Smith’s chair of energy and natural resources Prajakt Samant said the firm was ‘over the moon to have Sachin, Michelle and Shourav join us’: ‘[They] are regional veterans in the Middle East legal world, each widely acknowledged as outstanding practitioners and strategic thought leaders.’

A spokesperson for Pinsents said: ‘Our 90-strong Middle East business has expanded rapidly over the last two years as evidenced by our joint venture with Alsabhan & Alajaji and the appointment of the market-leading projects team in the region. It remains a key market for us and we will continue to invest in line with our strategic focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors.’

These are the latest in a series of laterals for Reed Smith, which earlier this year hired five partners from NRF in the US and Macfarlanes investment fund finance group leader Bronwen Jones in the City.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

In what has otherwise been a relatively subdued week for City laterals, Paul Hastings, Reed Smith and Mayer Brown have bolstered their London partner ranks with financial regulatory, intellectual property (IP) and finance hires respectively.

Paul Hastings continued its recruitment spree with the hire, announced today (11 June), of partner Arun Srivastava from Baker McKenzie, where he spent more than 22 years and headed its financial services regulatory group. He has also spent a year with the Financial Services Authority on secondment between 1999 and 2000.

Srivastava will now lead Paul Hastings’ London regulatory and fintech payments practice.

The hire comes as the firm looks to expand its London offering, having recently made two headline hires in the form of Linklaters’ M&A heavyweight Roger Barron and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper.

Seth Zachary, chair of Paul Hastings, said: ‘Arun is one of the leading financial regulatory lawyers in London and will enhance our capabilities across our finance, fintech and payments, funds and transactional practices. It is central to our growth strategy in London that we attract the finest lawyers in their specialisms, and Arun’s practice and pedigree in the regulatory space will be extremely helpful for us.’

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-bred Reed Smith has hired Howard Womersley Smith as a partner in its London IP, tech and data practice from Cambridge tech law firm Taylor Vinters. He was previously a partner and head of fintech and data at that firm since 2015, acting for financial services providers on the customer and supply sides, as well as advising clients on data protection and GDPR compliance.

He had previously worked in-house at COLT Telecom and Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of legal and compliance for commercial and tech matters.

Cynthia O’Donoghue, head of international information technology at Reed Smith, said: ‘Howard brings with him a great depth of knowledge on current issues such as GDPR, as well as a true specialism in fintech and financial services which align perfectly with our sector focus at Reed Smith. Our IP, tech and data practice continues to experience a growing demand from clients across the global network.’

For its part, Mayer Brown is understood to have hired Fried Frank London finance head Stuart Brinkworth (pictured) to its City bench. Brinkworth joined Fried Frank from Hogan Lovells in 2015, tasked with building debt fund relationships with clients in London and supporting the firm’s private equity practice.

North of the border, TLT hired banking and finance partner Douglas Gourlay from Weighmans, where he led the UK real estate finance practice.

Mayer Brown also announced two US hires from Morgan Lewis aimed at bolstering the firm’s offering to Japanese clients. Satoru Murase joins the firm’s New York corporate and securities practice. He advises on a range of M&A, litigation and finance matters, having also acted on employment and government relations matters.

Yoshihide Ito, who specialises in international trade policy, economic trade sanctions and trade disputes, will join Mayer Brown’s Washington DC government and global trade practice.

Philip Brandes, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s corporate and securities practice, said: ‘As Japanese companies navigate global markets, they seek lawyers well-versed in cross-border investment, litigation and regulatory matters. Satoru and Yoshi check all the boxes.’

King & Spalding hired Marc-Olivier Langlois to its trial and global disputes practice in Paris from Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where he was co-chair of the firm’s construction disputes group.

Langlois is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) task force on maximising the probative value of witness evidence, and has acted on commercial arbitrations, pharmaceutical licencing and defence contracts.

In Asia, Orrick recruited at the expense of Dentons as Sarah Zeng joined the firm’s private equity practice in Beijing. Zeng had been managing partner of Denton’s Beijing office, and has previously worked in-house as general counsel of Chinese engine manufacturer Weichai Power. Zeng becomes the 18th partner to join Orrick’s global M&A practice since 2016, and the fourth in China in the past year.

Dentons meanwhile has secured an addition of its own, with the firm bringing in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shared operations director Lisa Sewell as its new UK and Middle East managing director. Sewell had spent ten years at RBS, having also worked as head of bank-wide simplification, before leading a team of 7,500 across the UK, Poland and India.

Legal Business

UK rules: London in the spotlight as Mayer Brown appoints City veteran Clay as managing partner

UK rules: London in the spotlight as Mayer Brown appoints City veteran Clay as managing partner

In a marked shift in leadership away from its Illinois roots, Global 100 giant Mayer Brown has appointed City-based veteran Jeremy Clay as its new managing partner.

Global real estate head Clay will replace Washington-based litigator Kenneth Geller, who took on the role in 2009.

Appointed by the firm’s management committee and partnership board, Clay was a partner at legacy Rowe & Maw and one of those behind its 2002 takeover by Mayer, Brown & Platt. A member of the management committee since 2012, he built his reputation in the firm’s property practice.

Last year his team acted on headline deals for two of London’s landmark buildings, the £1.3bn purchase of the Walkie Talkie by Hong Kong investors LKK Health Products and the £1.15bn acquisition of the Cheesegrater by Chinese investment group CC Land.

Clay will now split his time between Mayer Brown’s New York and London offices, but the firm said he will also continue to work with his real estate clients.

Clay will lead the firm alongside Chicago-based chairman Paul Theiss, elected to the role in 2012. Thiess said Clay’s ‘broad experience in the firm brings a positive dynamic perspective as we continue our evolution as a world-class, global law firm’.

Clay’s appointment comes after a mixed 2017 for Mayer Brown. Globally the firm grew revenue 4% to $1.31bn, while partners claimed the London office outpaced global growth increasing both revenue and profits by double digits.

But in the City it saw an 18% headcount decrease to 230 due to a number of departures to firms including Kennedys and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – although in February the firm added private equity partner Neil Evans from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Long outpaced by pacier Chicago rival Kirkland & Ellis, Clay’s appointment reflects Mayer Brown’s attempt to focus on its image as a global firm.

Speaking to Legal Business at the beginning of this year, Clay stressed the point: ‘Along with the Chicago office, the connection of London, New York and Hong Kong is part of the backbone of the firm, one of the things that positions us very well. We have 200+ lawyers in each of them. Not many firms have that and we need to work hard at continuing to develop this.’

For more on Mayer Brown and the leading US firms in the City, read our Global London report (£)

Legal Business

International round-up: Mayer Brown launches in Japan as Mills & Reeve cements European ties

International round-up: Mayer Brown launches in Japan as Mills & Reeve cements European ties

Mayer Brown will open a new office in Tokyo next year after hiring the former head of Ashurst’s Tokyo office.

Rupert Burrows, Ashurst Tokyo’s former managing partner, will lead a new team at Mayer Brown as it looks to expand its offering in Japan in 2018.

Burrows has been based in Ashurst’s well-established Tokyo practice for the past 20 years, is fluent in Japanese and highly regarded for his oil and gas, chemical and infrastructure work.

Mayer Brown chairman Paul Theiss said the firm wanted to establish an on-the-ground presence in Japan after clients told them it was needed. ‘Consistent with our wider strategic goal to have a strong presence in all of the major financial centres of the world and with our client-led initiative in Japan, we now intend to open in Tokyo in the first half of 2018.’

An Ashurst spokesperson said Burrows was leaving the firm’s Tokyo office by mutual consent, adding that the Japanese business was performing well and that firm intended to grow it further.

In other international news, the instability surrounding Brexit has led to Mills & Reeve formalising two decade-long relationships it has in Europe.

The UK firm said last week it had signed affiliation agreements with Graf von Westphalen in Germany and Van Benthem & Keulen in The Netherlands. The East Anglia-based national firm has worked with each for around 10 years in M&A, private equity, flotations, corporate finance, employment law and commercial disputes. It also has joint legal training programmes and secondee exchanges with both firms.

Graf von Westphalen, which was once part of Osborne Clarke’s European alliance before breaking into separate parts around the turn of the Millennium, has five offices across Germany in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, while Van Benthem & Keulen is based in Utrecht.

Mills & Reeve head of international Tom Pickthorn commented: ‘With the uncertainties and opportunities arising from Brexit, it is more important than ever that we can provide our clients a seamless services in these key markets.’

Legal Business

China buys: Mayer Brown and BLP land key roles on £1.3bn Walkie Talkie sale in record property deal

China buys: Mayer Brown and BLP land key roles on £1.3bn Walkie Talkie sale in record property deal

Mayer BrownBerwin Leighton Paisner(BLP) and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang all advised on the £1.3bn purchase by Hong Kong investors LKK Health Products of London landmark skyscraper, 20 Fenchurch Street, or the ‘Walkie Talkie’.

In the UK’s largest property deal to date, Mayer Brown UK real estate head Chris Harvey told Legal Business that the transaction demonstrates further appetite from foreign investors including new entrants to the London market.

‘Asian investors have been very active over the last five years and there is clearly no lack of appetite. This is likely to continue as Asian investors see London still as being a safe haven and comparatively good value compared to their home markets, especially with the depreciation of the pound,’ he added.

LKK, a member of Hong Kong-based food company Lee Kum Kee Group was advised by a Mayer Brown team. UK real estate head Chris Harvey and global head of real estate Jeremy Clay led, with real estate partners Andrew Hepner, Caroline Humble, Anita Jones and Pat Jones, antitrust partner David Harrison and construction partner Jonathan Olson-Welsh.

Corporate and securities partners Jeremy Kenley, Connor Cahalane and Tim Nosworthy, employment and benefits partner Nick Robertson and tax partner Sandy Bhogal all also worked on the deal.

BLP advised co-seller The Canary Wharf Group. BLP’s investment management head, Antony Grossman and chairman Robert MacGregor led its team.

CMS acted for co-seller real estate investment trust Landsec, previously Land Securities, with real estate partners Victoria Henry and Barry Morris and tax partner Nick Burt leading.

The sale follows that of the ‘Cheesegrater’ building for £1.15bn earlier this year to Chinese-owned CC Land, in which BLP and Mayer Brown, alongside Herbert Smith Freehills, advised on one of the largest Chinese purchases of UK real estate.

Legal Business

Shearman and Mayer Brown retain fewer trainees than previous years’ newly-qualified solicitor intake

Shearman and Mayer Brown retain fewer trainees than previous years’ newly-qualified solicitor intake

Shearman & Sterling and Mayer Brown have recorded lower retention rates for their trainees due to qualify this autumn, from full retention last year to 87% and 73% respectively. 

Shearman will retain 87% of its London trainees due to qualify in September 2017, as 13 out of 15 trainees were offered and accepted newly qualified (NQ) positions at the firm. This represents a drop from both its 2016 and 2015 retention rates, when all 13 of its September qualifiers accepted full-time positions at the firm’s London office. This year’s figure remains above its 2014 rates, however, when the firm retained 75% of its final-year trainees to NQ positions.  

The US firm’s September NQ lawyers join the mergers and acquisitions, finance, financial Institutions advisory and financial regulatory, project development and finance, and antitrust global practices. Three members of Shearman’s NQ intake this year will take up international secondments in Brussels, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. 

Meanwhile, Mayer Brown confirmed that it will retain eight of its 11 second year trainees who joined in September 2015, a 73% retention rate. This represents a fall in comparison to its 100% retention this March, when all of the firm’s four second year trainees qualified. Two of its March trainees qualified into the firm’s banking and finance team, and one each into the dispute resolution and insurance practices respectively.

The rate increased from 2016, when Mayer Brown announced a 67% September retention rate, recruiting six of the nine group into NQ roles. The firm recorded a 100% retention rate for its March qualifiers in 2016, however, with all four kept on in the corporate and securities, construction and engineering and antitrust and competition practice groups.

The Chicago-headquartered firm confirmed that of the 11 autumn NQ solicitors this year, ten second-year trainees applied, nine were offered jobs and eight accepted.

Of those eight, two will qualify into the litigation team, one into banking and finance, and one each into the corporate & securities, real estate, pensions, employment & benefits and intellectual property practices.

Mayer Brown training principal William Glassey said the firm is ‘delighted’ that eight trainees will be staying on in permanent positions. ‘They represent our investment in the future of the firm and we look forward to watching their continuing development as they build their careers,’ he said.

Other firms to have announced their retention rates for this autumn include Burges Salmon and Blake Morgan. Burges Salmon announced in April this year that it will retain 100% of its 28 trainees, while Blake Morgan will keep eight of nine trainees who will qualify this September.



Legal Business

Mayer Brown, RPC and CMS and five other firms win roles on QBE UK panel review completion

Mayer Brown, RPC and CMS and five other firms win roles on QBE UK panel review completion

Eight firms including Mayer Brown, Clyde & Co, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, DAC Beachcroft and RPC have won places on Australian insurer QBE’s UK panel review.

Berrymans Lace Mawer, DWF and Plexus have also been selected to provide legal advice across England, Wales and Scotland.

Motor and casualty will be provided exclusively by DWF and Plexus for claims under £250,000.

Commenting on the panel review, Alan Brownlee, head of claims procurement for QBE European Operations said: ‘ We are confident that these appointments will allow us to further develop the strategic partnerships with our panel that are critical in enabling us to deliver truly excellent service, innovation, outcomes and value to our customers in the years to come.’

Earlier this month, Legal Business reported that Bond Dickinson made up to five voluntary redundancies in its Bristol office after the firm lost out on a panel spot with QBE.

In a statement, the firm said: ‘Earlier this year following on from a panel loss we had to undertake a restructuring exercise with our professional risks team which resulted in voluntary redundancies. Fortunately, all of those solicitors who have now left the firm are moving on to new roles.’

Last October, Legal Business revealed that QBE was launching a review of its UK claims panel, following the appointment of Carol Scobie as group general counsel and company secretary in January 2016.

The UK panel, which was last reviewed in 2014, is responsible for carrying out a large amount of disputes work for the insurer.

The last UK review was overseen by then European claims director Dominic Clayden, now group chief claims officer, with firms including BLM, Mayer Brown, Plexus Law and RPC making the final list.

Legal Business

‘Time to pass the baton’: Glover becomes Simpson Thacher City head as Connolly steps down at Mayer Brown

‘Time to pass the baton’: Glover becomes Simpson Thacher City head as Connolly steps down at Mayer Brown

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett‘s London managing partner Gregory Conway has stepped down from his role after 10 years of leading the practice in favour of private funds partner Jason Glover, while litigator Sally Davies has been named Sean Connolly’s replacement as senior partner at the City office of Mayer Brown.

Conway left the role in the end of March and is expected to remain a partner at the firm, while Glover will become the first non-US managing partner of the London office.

Glover, who joined Simpson Thacher in 2010 from Clifford Chance, has led Simpson Thatcher’s funds practice in Europe, for clients including Actis, Apax, BC Partners, Bridgepoint, Cinven, Coller Capital, CVC and EQT.

Conway was appointed the US firm’s London head in 2007 after former UK chief Walter Looney returned to the New York headquarters, also after 10 years at the helm.

Commenting on his appointment, Glover (pictured) said: ‘Greg felt that having done it for 10 years and having had incredible success in growing the practice, it’s probably time to pass on the baton.’

‘We’re not very big on titles and roles,’ he added.

Simpson Thacher made a rare London hire at the end of last year, taking on Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ben Spiers to boost its M&A practice. Widely tipped as a potential successor to heavyweight Adam Signy, Spiers’ practice focuses on the TMT sector. The hire of Spiers was Simpson’s first London lateral hire since the firm hired high yield star Gil Strauss from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2014.

Meanwhile, Mayer Brown also announced today (19 May) that litigation partner Sally Davies has been appointed London senior partner for a five-year term beginning on 1 July. She succeeds Sean Connolly, who steps down after 10 years in the role.

Davies joined Mayer Brown as a trainee in 1992 and was made a partner in 2001. In addition to her appointment as senior partner, Davies was recently elected to serve on the firm’s global partnership board. Connolly will continue as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice, where he advises on multi-jurisdictional disputes.

Legal Business

‘Enduring strength’: HSF, BLP and Mayer Brown advise as £1bn offer made for the Cheesegrater

‘Enduring strength’: HSF, BLP and Mayer Brown advise as £1bn offer made for the Cheesegrater

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Mayer Brown are leading as Chinese Investment Group CC Land is in advanced talks to buy one of London’s landmark buildings, the Leadenhall building (known as the Cheesegrater) for over £1bn.

If completed, the deal will be one of the largest Chinese purchases of UK real estate.

The HSF team is advising joint owner Oxford Properties with a team led by real estate partner Richard Forsdyke.

Mayer Brown is acting for the other 50% owner, British Land, through real estate partners Jeremy Clay, Caroline Humble and corporate partner Richard Page.

BLP team is advising the potential buyer, CC Land, with a team led by head of real estate Chris de Pury.

Forsdyke said: ‘We are delighted to have helped Oxford over the last five years on its participation in this venture. This sale is important and shows the enduring strength of the central London business district real estate.’

HSF also advised Oxford Properties in 2011, when the £340m development of the Cheesegrater started, while SJ Berwin advised British Land.

In 2015, British Land unveiled its first panel, listing firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Addleshaw Goddard, HSF, Jones Day, King & Wood Mallesons, Mayer Brown and Simmons & Simmons as advisers. Last month, it added also Hogan Lovells to its roster of firms.

Legal Business

LLP latest: Camerons unveils £11m profits dip ahead of merger while Mayer Brown sees City member profits fall

LLP latest: Camerons unveils £11m profits dip ahead of merger while Mayer Brown sees City member profits fall

CMS Cameron McKenna has seen turnover increase but profitability fall for its offices under the UK LLP, according to the firm’s latest filings with Companies House.

The accounts show turnover for the 2015/16 financial year was up to £267.3m, an increase of around 2% on the £262.9m posted the previous year. While UK turnover remained steady at £219m, turnover from the LLP’s international offices increased 11% from £40m to £44.5m.

Profitability, however, took a hit with profits available for distribution to members falling 18% from £61.6m in 2014/15 to £50.3m this year. The firm’s highest paid member was distributed around 9% more, £860,000 compared to £788,000 the year before.

In a statement the firm said: ‘This reported fall in profits was due to an exceptional item. We made a decision last year for a small amount of restructuring within our partnership that, under accounting conventions, required the accelerated recognition of costs that would have otherwise fallen in the next 3 years. Overall, our balance sheet remains healthy and our strong cash position has allowed us to repay surplus capital held in the business and end the year in a strong position.’

These LLP accounts report the offices of Camerons under the UK group, which includes its Cameron McKenna’s UK offices, along with branches in Budapest, Prague, Kyiv, Warsaw, Bucharest, Sofia, Muscat, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro and Dubai. They also account for its share of joint ventures with the CMS grouping of ten European firms in Moscow and Istanbul.

Internationally, the CMS group reported more than €1bn in turnover last year, which the firm stated represented a 8% increase on the previous year.

The falling profitability comes ahead of the firm’s merger with Nabarro and Olswang, set to go live on 1 May, which is expected to give Camerons revenues of around £450m in the UK alone.

Olswang’s latest LLPs revealed the firm cut its bank loan revolving credit facility from £14m to £13m this year. The accounts also showed profit allocated to the highest paid member at the firm for 2016 was £759,000.

Merger partner Nabarro recently reported it had moved to cut its pension deficit ahead of the combination in its LLP filings. The firm more than halved its pension liability from £32m to £12.2m – injecting £4.4m in the last financial year to cut the deficit more quickly.

Meanwhile, turnover for Mayer Brown’s UK LLP dropped by 3% in 2016 to £105m, down from £109m the year previous, while profit per member fell sharply.

The US firm’s highest paid UK LLP member received £1.5m, up from £1.4m in 2015. Average profit per member decreased by 17% to £426,745 for 2016, falling from £515,464.