Legal Business

‘Necessary bandwidth’: Addleshaws lures deal finance veteran from McDermott

‘Necessary bandwidth’: Addleshaws lures deal finance veteran from McDermott

Amid a quiet month for the lateral recruitment market in London, Addleshaw Goddard made the most significant play, bolstering its City banking practice with the hire of leveraged finance partner Peter Crichton from US firm McDermott Will & Emery. Well known in the deal community, Crichton joins Addleshaws’ active mid-market practice led by Alex Dumphy.

Crichton’s career as an acquisition finance lawyer saw him act for AIB, HSBC, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander on Caledonia’s acquisition of the drinks business Liberation Group in 2016 and AIB, HSBC and Santander on the refinancing of the Jockey Club. He has spent around 16 years advising on the debtor side of the loan markets and specialising in leveraged finance, becoming partner at DLA Piper and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang before joining McDermott before the three-way merger took effect in 2017.

Legal Business

McDermott’s mass lawyer swoop casts shadow over DLA financial renaissance

McDermott’s mass lawyer swoop casts shadow over DLA financial renaissance

It has been a bumpy few months for DLA Piper. Just as the dust was settling following McDermott Will & Emery (MWE)’s 20-partner blitz on its US offices, the Chicago-based firm hired another three partners from DLA in London.

What a way to take some of the gloss off a turnaround in global turnover to back above $2.5bn, coupled with double-digit percentage growth in net profit, also announced in April.

Legal Business

DLA loses three real estate partners to McDermott in wake of 50-lawyer exodus

DLA loses three real estate partners to McDermott in wake of 50-lawyer exodus

McDermott Will & Emery is darkening DLA Piper’s door once more, with the hiring of another three partners, shortly after bringing in 20 partners from the firm’s US offices.

London-based DLA real estate partners Laurence Rogers, Neville Wright and Tom Calnan are leaving the firm to join McDermott. Rogers specialises in real estate finance, Wright in corporate tax for the finance and real estate sectors, and Calnan in commercial real estate. A DLA spokesperson confirmed the departures but said the firm had no further comment to make.

McDermott declined to comment on the departures.

Rogers and Wright were previously partners at legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) before joining DLA in 2014, with Rogers formerly DLA’s UK head of real estate. Calnan, meanwhile, had been at the firm for little more than a year after joining from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM).

The trio’s loss comes quickly after McDermott brought in a team of 50 lawyers from DLA in the US, in a string of major moves touted as adding $100m revenue to its top line. The Chicago-based McDermott hired a four-partner real estate finance team led by DLA’s New York-based global co-chair of finance, Jeffrey Steiner, in late March, representing the third DLA practice group leader to join McDermott in a short time.

McDermott’s latest raid at DLA compounds a turbulent end to 2017 for the firm, most obvious in the departure of its esteemed senior partner and global co-chair Juan Picón to Latham & Watkins in Spain last November. DLA veteran Andrew Darwin was named his successor in February, following the firm’s first contested senior partner race in a decade.

In April, DLA said its global turnover had bounced back from last year’s drop with double-digit percentage growth in net profit. The firm’s global revenue was up 7% to $2.63bn in 2017, and net profit lifted 10% to $709m. Profit per equity partner (PEP) rose to $1.76m from last year’s $1.66m.

Legal Business

Mass exodus as McDermott bags 50-lawyer team from DLA to add ‘$100m’ to revenues

Mass exodus as McDermott bags 50-lawyer team from DLA to add ‘$100m’ to revenues

McDermott Will & Emery has brought in a team – including more than 20 partners – from DLA Piper’s US offices, in a string of major moves touted as adding $100m in revenue to its top line.

The Chicago-based firm announced on 29 March that a four-partner real estate finance team, led by DLA’s New York-based global co-chair of finance, Jeffrey Steiner, would be arriving.

Steiner, who will act as McDermott’s global real estate finance chief, joined the firm alongside fellow partners Scott Weinberg, Dino Fazlibegu and Robert Unger.

Steiner’s arrival represents the third DLA practice group leader to join McDermott in recent weeks, with Michael Poulous, DLA’s co-managing partner for the Americas, joining in March. Michael Sheehan, DLA’s Chicago-based global co-chair of employment, also made the switch last month.

McDermott has indicated that it expects the team to contribute as much as $100m, though DLA has dismissed such projections.

In a statement, Steiner cited McDermott’s ‘highly-respected transactions and real estate teams’ and asserted his team was ‘anxious to collaborate with them.’

Other partners to join McDermott in the US include nine from the employment group. Pankit Doshi, Dave Durham, Chris Foster and Ron Holland have all joined McDermott in San Francisco, Rachel Cowen and Marilyn Pearson in Chicago, Maria Rodriguez and Michelle Strowhiro in Los Angeles and Ellen Bronchetti in San Diego.

Furthermore, a group of seven litigators are transferring to McDermott: Seth Friedman, Jason Gerstein, Tim Hoeffner and Raphael Larson in New York, Larry Wojcik in Chicago, Nicole Figueroa in Dallas and Mike Piazza in Los Angeles.

Additional lawyers who have made the switch from DLA include real estate finance of counsel duo Robert Mower and Michael Twersky, with Kevin Connelly joining McDermott’s Chicago employment group as an of counsel.

The slew of US departures compounds a turbulent end to 2017 for DLA Piper, with the firm losing its esteemed senior partner and global co-chair Juan Picón to Latham & Watkins in Spain.

In February, DLA named veteran Andrew Darwin as its new senior partner after Picón’s departure sparked the firm’s first contested election in a decade.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

In a week of European-focused lateral hires, firms have expanded their German ranks. Dechert hired in Frankfurt, Watson Farley & Williams in Hamburg, and McDermott Will and Emery in Dusseldorf.

Separately, in London, Rosenblatts Solicitors appointed a new commercial litigation partner.

Dechert has appointed Joachim Kayser as a partner to its Frankfurt financial services team. He joined from PwC in Germany where he was head of alternative investments, asset management and regulatory.

Kayser’s practice focuses on legal and operational advice for investment funds, their asset managers, intermediaries and institutional investors on regulatory and tax matters.

Dechert’s Frankfurt managing partner, Achim Putz said the addition of Joachim and his team in Frankfurt will ‘nicely complement our existing German practices in Bonn, Frankfurt and Munich.’

Watson Farley expanded its Hamburg office with the hire of corporate partner Bjorn-Axel Diβars from Latham & Watkins to its energy and infrastructure practice, bring the team to 38 lawyers. Diβars acts on transactional and disputes work, focusing on the oil & gas, international trade and maritime sectors.

Watson Farley’s Germany head, Marcus Bechtel, said the addition of Björn-Axel [Diβars] and the ‘expansion of our German energy and infrastructure practice is an important element of the firm’s growth strategy both internationally and in Hamburg specifically.’

McDermott also bolstered its German practice in Dusseldorf with the hire of antitrust partner Daniel von Brevern. He joins from Linklaters. He has advised on cases such as Vodafone’s $10bn merger with Kabel Deutschland in 2013, and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets on the acquisition of Open Grid Europe in 2012. He has experience in the banking, insurance, energy, pharmaceutical, healthcare and automotive sectors. His clients include Bregal Capital and Energy Exchange.

McDermott’s Germany head, Norbert Schulte said the firm’s antitrust and competition practice has ‘seen a substantial development over the last few years. We are convinced that with Daniel’s contribution this trend will continue.’

In London, litigation partner Donna Goldsworthy joined Rosenblatts from Irwin Mitchell, where she led the commercial litigation team. Donna specialises in F1 and Formula E sports, along with extensive financial services and construction experience.

Legal Business

US partner promotions: Mayer Brown promotes two in the City while McDermott adds one

US partner promotions: Mayer Brown promotes two in the City while McDermott adds one

Mayer Brown has made up another two partners in the City, the same number as last year, while McDermott Will & Emery has promoted one in London.

Litigation lawyer Jonathan Stone and IP lawyer Oliver Yaros will join Mayer Brown’s partnership in January. Stone’s practice covers all aspects of construction and engineering law and has a focus on advising insurers and professionals in the defence of professional indemnity claims.

Yaros will bring his experience acting on global financial industry utility projects, technology and business process outsourcing projects and IT systems procurement transactions to the partnership.

London promotions made up 10% of Mayer Brown’s round of 21, down from last year’s 27 which the firm said was the biggest intake since 2012. This year the bulk of promotions were made in the US where 17 made partner, while Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong both received one promotion.

After missing out last year, McDermott’s City practice has received one new partner. Employment lawyer Paul McGrath will become partner as part of the firm’s 34 strong round. Global promotions were up on last year’s 30 with 47% of those promoted women.

McDermott promoted 27 in the US, 79% of its total promotions. Four were made up to partner in Shanghai with Dusseldorf and Paris both receiving one.

The new partners at both firms will be made up on January 1.

Other US firms which have recently released their partner promotions include White & Case which bolstered its partnership by 40 this year, an increase of 23% on last year’s numbers with eight made up in the City. Kirkland & Ellis also announced it had made six up to partner in London in an 81 global partner promotion round. Latham & Watkins added two to its City office in a global round of 27 while based Ropes & Gray has promoted two in London as partner of its modest promotion round of 11.

London partner promotions

Mayer Brown

Oliver Yaros, intellectual property, London

Jonathan Stone, litigation & dispute resolution, London

McDermott Will & Emery

Paul McGrath, labour, employment & benefits, London


Legal Business

Olswang exits continue amid merger talks as restructuring head quits for US firm

Olswang exits continue amid merger talks as restructuring head quits for US firm

US firm McDermott Will & Emery has taken on Olswang‘s head of restructuring & insolvency Alicia Videon in the first exit from the firm since merger talks with CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro were revealed last week.

Videon spent more than eight years at OIswang leading on restructuring work on commercial real estate and advising on buyers and sellers of distressed debt. Videon is cited in the Legal 500 as being ‘at the top of her game’ for corporate restructuring work.

Before joining Olswang, Videon trained at legacy Lovells and spent three years as a partner at DLA Piper until 2008. Olswang has endured a string of exits before three-way merger talks with Camerons and Nabarro were confirmed last week.

Last week, Legal Business reported partners at all three firms were in holding meetings with management to discuss the merger. Camerons later released a statement confirming talks were taking place for a combination to create ‘a differentiated, modern firm.’

Chicago-based McDermott has been hiring in recent months, boosting its City presence with the addition of KPMG tax partner Russell Hampshire earlier this week. Hampshire spent 14 years as EMEA tax leader for technology at the Big Four accountant.

The firm also added Taylor Wessing corporate partner and healthcare specialist Hamid Yunis in September, who joins the team led by former colleague and London head of corporate Mark Davis.

Recent Olswang departures have seen life sciences co-head Stephen Reese leaving for Clifford Chance. Funds partner Barry Stimpson left for Bond Dickinson after being retained for a time as a consultant, while private equity partner Duncan McDonald jumped to Taylor Wessing.

In February, McDermott appointed private client partner Andrew Vergunst to lead the London office, while in September Ira Coleman was elected chair of the firm, taking up the role in January 2017. The US firm has around 550 partners and a turnover of $891.6m, however turnover for 2015/16 slipped around 1% according to the Global 100. The firm declined to comment on Videon’s appointment.


Legal Business

McDermott and DLA Piper partners join Orrick for Houston launch

McDermott and DLA Piper partners join Orrick for Houston launch

Having announced it will open a new office in Houston, 13 partners have joined US firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, including McDermott Will & Emery‘s global head of energy Blake Winburne, and DLA Piper‘s co-chair of global and US patent litigation Claudia Frost.

Winburne will co-lead the firm’s 130-lawyer global energy and infrastructure group, and brings with him two other partners – Matt Archer and Brad Gathright – who both focus on project development and finance.

Alongside Frost, disputes partner and patent litigator Jeffrey Johnson also leaves DLA Piper.

The remainder of the team includes four partners joining from Andrews Kurth; three partners from McGuireWoods; and one lateral partner hire from Susman Godfrey, alongside two partners joining as counsel from Haynes and Boone.

The new office will focus on three main areas: energy and infrastructure, litigation and IP, and public finance, with an aim to serve clients across Latin America in the energy, technology and finance sectors.

Orrick first announced the opening of its Houston office in mid-January and expects to announce seven more partners, at least five of whom are expected to join later this month. One of these will join as the firm’s Houston office head and co-head of the Latin America Group.

The firm’s chairman Mitch Zuklie said: ‘Houston is a vitally important market for our clients and a key hub for the energy and infrastructure and Latin American markets. We are committed to continuing to grow these teams and adding capabilities in areas such as private equity and energy technology that address our clients’ needs and are a strategic fit with our strengths.’

A list of the joining partners:

Energy and infrastructure: Latin America and corporate/M&A

Blake Winburne from McDermott Will & Emery

Dahl Thompson from Andrews Kurth

Matt Archer from McDermott Will & Emery

Brad Gathright from McDermott Will & Emery

George Humphrey from Andrews Kurth

Giji John from Andrews Kurth

Darrell Thomas from Andrews Kurth

Litigation: commercial, IP and appellate

Claudia Wilson Frost from DLA Piper

Jeffrey Johnson from DLA Piper

Katherine Treistman from Susman Godfrey

Public finance

Todd Brewer from McGuireWoods

Hoang Vu from McGuireWoods

Marcus Deitz from McGuireWoods

Kathryn Garner from Haynes and Boone (joining as counsel)

J. Kent Friedman from Haynes and Boone (joining as counsel)

Legal Business

‘The next phase’: McDermott Will & Emery names successor to London head Nineham

‘The next phase’: McDermott Will & Emery names successor to London head Nineham

Private client partner Andrew Vergunst (pictured) is to become the head of McDermott Will & Emery‘s London office, replacing corporate lawyer Hugh Nineham when he retires at the end of March.

Vergunst joined McDermott Will & Emery in 2009 from Maitland, a legal, tax and fiduciary firm based in Luxembourg, to launch the firm’s private client practice in the City along with Lawrence Graham (now Wragge Lawrence Graham) partner Martyn Gowar. Vergunst was at Maitland for more than a decade and headed its private client department before switching to the US firm.

He will succeed Nineham, who is well known in the City from his time as corporate finance chief at Lovells (now Hogan Lovells), after six years at the helm. Other senior posts held by Nineham include European head of corporate at McDermott Will & Emery and Hong Kong head of corporate at Lovells. Barclays Bank was one of his biggest clients.

Vergunst, who began his career as a lawyer in South Africa, specialises in tax planning for high-net-worth individuals. He arrived at McDermott Will & Emery just two weeks before Nineham became head of the London office and has since become the office’s sole representative on the firm’s global management committee in early 2014.

McDermott Will & Emery became the fastest shrinking overseas law firm in the City during this period, as its lawyer headcount fell by 39% between 2009 and 2014 to 43 lawyers. It is one of just 12 major international firms to reduce its London footprint in this period. Vergunst has, however, grown the private client practice to 14 lawyers since his arrival, with the group now accounting for a third of the London office.

The new leader told Legal Business while the office was not going to set unrealistic targets, it wanted to remain and be more strategically important to the firm.

He added: ‘We will look for opportunities to grow in private client and corporate. Good growth will have knock on effects, particularly in corporate, so that will be the focus. A lot of the corporate work is for privately owned businesses so there’s a very neat fit that will mean growth will be greater than the sum of the parts.

‘It would be foolish of us to expect the London market to stand still and for us to be successful by standing still. We are very well positioned within the London market, given the international nature of our practice, to continue to develop and grow our cross-border work. There’s a lot of opportunity for us here. The firm is ready to move on to the next phase.’

Legal Business

Hitting the target: Latham & Watkins boosts female partner promotions in latest round

Hitting the target: Latham & Watkins boosts female partner promotions in latest round

Almost half the lawyers made partner in Latham & Watkins’ latest 25 partner promotion round are female, following global chair Bill Voge’s pledge for diversity.

Following his election last summer, Voge promised to make diversity a priority and this is evident in the latest promotion round where 48% of those made up to partner are female. This is a significant leap on 2014, when just three of the 19 new partners were female, or 16% of the total. In 2013, it was just 15%.

Of the promotions at the world’s largest law firm, four London lawyers were made up to partner, with the firm investing heavily in the City despite a US-focused round.

Unsurprisingly, 20 of the firm’s 25 lawyers to make partner came in the US, the engine of the firm. But of the firm’s five overseas promotions, four of those new partners were based in the City, with Milan M&A associate Giovanni Sandicchi the only new partner outside of the US and the UK.

There are three more promotions in the City than last year with the focus on the firm’s finance and corporate practices. Finance associates Adrian Chiodo, who focuses on cross-border leveraged finance, and restructuring specialist Helena Potts were both made up to partner in the London, as was Robbie McLaren.

Farah O’Brien, a private equity dealmaker who joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer a decade ago, was made up in the corporate department after work on a string of high-profile deals, including advising key clients The Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, such as KKR’s €1.1bn purchase of UK harness maker Capital Safety in 2012.

Four other associates in the City were promoted to counsel positions, with all promotions set to take effect on 1 January.

This City promotions round is the joint-largest ever by Latham in London, equalling the four lawyers made up to partner in 2013. While globally this year’s cohort of new partners is six larger than in 2014, and five larger than in 2013, the promotions are distinctly more American than in previous years. Last year there were overseas promotions across London, Madrid, Hamburg, Milan, Paris, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, but this year only lawyers in London and Milan secured partnership outside of the US.

City lawyers have missed out on partnership promotions at McDermott Will & Emery, with no promotions in its latest round of 30. The firm made up three partners in Europe: Gregor Lamla in Düsseldorf, Pierre-Arnoux Mayoly in Paris and Steffen Woitz in Munich.

The Latham & Watkins 2015 partnership promotions are:

Rachel Bates, real estate, Chicago

Marc Zubick, litigation, Chicago

Thomas Brandt, corporate, Houston

Stephen Szalkowski, corporate, Houston

Adrian Chiodo, finance, London

Robbie McLaren, corporate, London

Farah O’Brien corporate, London

Helena Potts, finance, London

Douglas Burnaford, finance, Los Angeles

Michelle Carpenter, tax, Los Angeles

Giovanni Sandicchi, corporate, Milan,

Kegan Brown, environment, land & resources and litigation, New York

Adam Goldberg, finance, New York

Lori Goodman, tax, New York

Austin Ozawa, tax, New York

Jesse Sheff, finance, New York

Hilary Shalla, finance, Orange County

Jennifer Koh, litigation, San Diego

Lisa Nguyen, litigation, Silicon Valley

Benjamin Potter, corporate, Silicon Valley

Chad Rolston, corporate, Silicon Valley

Sarah Greenfield, litigation, Washington DC

Shagufa Hossain, corporate, Washington DC

Leakhena Mom, corporate, Washington DC  

Andrea Ramezan-Jackson, tax, Washington DC