Legal Business

Strategy review sets expansive course as Mayer Brown aims to galvanise its business

Eight months in the making, Mayer Brown’s revamped international strategy will now see the US law firm re-group around its large international clients and allocate significant resource to providing a more joined up global service in which London is forecast to be key.

The new strategy, put together by the 1,536-lawyer firm’s 12-strong partnership board and eight-member management committee, will see Mayer Brown focus on strengthening its US strongholds in Washington DC, New York and Chicago, as well as its 85-partner London site and Hong Kong office, which launched in 2006 and now houses 170 lawyers, of which 60 are partners.

Legal Business

City ambitions – Mayer Brown adds to London laterals tally with hire of BLP finance partner

City ambitions – Mayer Brown adds to London laterals tally with hire of BLP finance partner

Mayer Brown has added to its tally of recent London hires as Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) finance and restructuring partner Trevor Wood joins the US firm.

Wood will be reunited with former BLP banking and finance partner Richard Todd when he joins 1,536-lawyer Mayer Brown, which has made six lateral hires in its London office in the last month, compared to just five in 2012.

Meanwhile, BLP’s partner departures continue in the wake of the firm’s disclosure in September that its profits for 2012/13 are down by nearly 40%. The firm also unveiled a drop in revenues this summer of 5% to £233m, making it the worst financial performer of the top 25 UK firms.

At the start of this month (October) BLP private equity partner Michael Weir joined former colleague and head of private equity Raymond McKeeve at Jones Day. Other recent departures include Patrick Somers, who spearheaded BLP’s Managed Legal Services initiative and who joined DLA Piper in September. In the same month, Mishcon de Reya announced the hire of non-contentious commercial partner Adam Rose, while rated contentious tax head Liesl Fichardt left for Clifford Chance.

The moves come as BLP moves to address its profitability issues. The top 20 firm also completed a redundancy round in May, which resulted in the loss of 102 jobs including 58 legal staff and 44 secretarial staff with the aim of reducing salary costs by 15%.

Before this year BLP was labelled as one of the most upwardly mobile firms in the last decade, with an enviable long-term performance. However, over-expansion into difficult markets, together with a drop in transactional work and the cost of an aggressive lateral hiring strategy has seen it hit hard, although, according to one senior partner at the firm, BLP has already seen growth on this time last year.

For further analysis of BLP’s performance see Comment: The lingering enigma of BLP’s bad year

Legal Business

US/UK hires: Mayer Brown boosts London securitisation team as Herbert Smith hires New York financial services litigator

US/UK hires: Mayer Brown boosts London securitisation team as Herbert Smith hires New York financial services litigator

Mayer Brown is boosting its English law securitisation capability with the hire of former Mayer Brown lawyer Richard Todd, who re-joins the firm from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) alongside Allen & Overy banking associate David O’Connor.

Todd will work on domestic and international structured financings alongside former colleague and head of the banking and finance division Dominic Griffiths, as well as senior securitisation partner Kevin Hawken.

Todd joins from BLP’s banking and capital markets department, where he has been since February last year. Prior to BLP, Todd worked as an in-house lawyer at Lloyds Banking Group from September 2010, where he was director of structured capital markets focussing primarily on providing legal support to the bank’s conduit securitisation areas.

Todd joins alongside Allen & Overy’s O’Connor, an ex-banker at Deutsche Bank. In his new role, O’Connor will be working closely with recently recruited Ashley Katz, Devi Shah and litigation partner Alistair Graham, who joined in January 2013, on CMBS restructurings.

Griffiths said: ‘We are a core adviser to a number of clients in the securitisation sector and for some time now we have been keen to further expand our English law team to meet client demand.’

While US firms progress in London is overshadowing City firms’ performance across the Atlantic, Herbert Smith Freehills also today (7 October) announced it has boosted its dispute resolution practice in New York with the hire of Cooley’s head of financial services litigation, Scott Balber. Balber will head the 2323-lawyer firm’s investigations and financial services litigation for the US and establish its corporate crime and investigations practice.

Scott also specialises in white collar defence, regulatory matters and securities and commercial litigation. Before Cooley, he was co-head of the commercial litigation practice at Chadbourne & Parke.

The hire comes as the firm focuses on expanding its global corporate crime practice across its network. It launched the New York office in September 2012 and the office also includes an international arbitration team led by Larry Shore and a litigation team led by Thomas Riley, which handles US and cross-border litigation for network clients.

Herbert Smith’s global disputes practice head Sonya Leydecker said: ‘Establishing an on the ground corporate crime and investigations capability in New York has been a cornerstone of our disputes US strategy. In Scott, we have found a perfect combination – a market-leading expert, who is also a dynamic business developer with an impressive track record of developing long-standing client relationships.’

Legal Business

Recruitment drive for Cadwalader in London reaps double Mayer Brown hire

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s efforts to rebuild its London finance team were today rewarded with the hire of two leading Mayer Brown structured finance partners to boost its City offering.

Former Mayer Brown finance and banking practice head Bruce Bloomingdale joins the 435-lawyer firm today (18 September) alongside Chicago banking and finance partner Jeremiah Wagner, who has been on secondment to Mayer Brown’s London office.

Bloomingdale qualified in the US and has experience of working in both London and New York, advising financial institutions and corporates on cross-border securitisations, leveraged finance and asset-backed lending. He headed Mayer Brown’s finance practice in London between 2008 and 2010, before being succeeded by current chief Dominic Griffiths.

The recruitment is a significant development in Cadwalader’s drive to rebuild its structured finance group after seven of its partners left to join Paul Hastings back in 2009. Including the recent hires, Cadwalder’s London headcount has now hit 12.

Partner and co-chair of Cadwalader’s capital markets practice, Patrick Quinn said: ‘The addition of Bruce and Jeremiah and their asset backed expertise to our UK structured finance team builds on the strength we enjoy in commercial mortgage backed securities, CDOs, CLOs and other structured and securitized product and enhances our ability to support clients in the fast re-emerging European structured finance and credit markets.’

For Mayer Brown, meanwhile, the departures come after the top 25 global 100 firm earlier this month lost finance partner Angela Hayes, who joined King & Spalding to launch its London financial services regulatory practice.

Griffiths commented: ‘Bloomingdale and I have a long history of working together. Wagner was on secondment to the London office from Chicago until the end of the year. It’s disappointing they have left but we have plans to continue building our structured finance team.’

The 1536-lawyer firm has 48 lawyers in its finance and banking practice at present and Griffiths confirmed the firm has plans to grow its structured finance group in London. ‘It has been our intention for some time to add more lawyers to support client demand in this area,’ he added.

Legal Business

Altered Images – will the real Mayer Brown stand up?

Altered Images – will the real Mayer Brown stand up?

Once one of the most lauded transatlantic players, Mayer Brown has struggled to find its form over the last five years either globally or in the City. Legal Business asks if the firm knows what it wants to be in the Square Mile.

A little over four years ago Mayer Brown went through the latest in a series of reboots aimed at repositioning the firm. Back in 2009 that desire to begin a new chapter was understandable. Mayer Brown had recently weathered a turbulent period dominated by a partner restructuring, problems in its Chicago and New York arms and, of course, the fallout generated by the global banking crisis. The message the firm sought to articulate was that it was determined to reposition itself as a more performance-driven outfit, geared more strongly towards a globalising but increasingly competitive market.

Legal Business

Banks could face backlash on legal panel reviews

With the latest round of bank panel reviews in full swing, early indications show signs of a backlash from law firms as banks place increasing demands on panel candidates at the same time as driving down costs.

In October, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced the results of its long-running panel review. By reducing its number of sub-panels from 13 to five, it has significantly lowered the number of law firms on the panel from around 100 previously to between 55 and 60 now. Meanwhile, former panel firms Slaughter and May, Olswang and Mayer Brown didn’t pitch to join the panel this time around.

Legal Business

Katten Muchin Rosenman continues hiring spree

US firm Katten Muchin Rosenman remains on the charge in London following the hire of tax partner Sanjay Mehta from Stephenson Harwood in August. The latest hire comes at the end of a highly acquisitive year that has seen the Chicago-based firm make five lateral hires in six months.

This follows a triple hire to Katten’s real estate team in July, which included Stephen John as special counsel and Ranjeev Kumar as partner from the London office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, alongside Joe Payne from Field Fisher Waterhouse.