Legal Business

Paul Hastings finance partner leaves for Davis Polk as London churn continues

While there is no shortage of fast-growing US firms in London, Paul Hastings is a notable standout, increasing London lawyer headcount by 68% over the past five years with a steady stream of eye-catching hires.

However, this rapid growth has also come with departures as the firm repositions itself in the City, and yesterday (2 May) it was announced that highly regarded former global finance co-head Luke McDougall is leaving to join Davis Polk.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings scores double win from Latham after recent London losses

Paul Hastings has hired litigation and trial partners Oliver Browne and Stuart Alford KC from Latham & Watkins, just days after it lost structured finance partner Blake Jones to Clifford Chance. Paul Hastings confirmed the moves today (16 February).

Browne leaves Latham after 18 years, having most recently served as the London co-chair of the litigation and trial department. He advises on cross-border disputes, both in court and arbitration, spanning various sectors and involving high-net-worth individuals.

Browne’s recent mandates include leading a Latham team in advising Saudi National Bank amid claims brought by Saad Investments Company Limited and its liquidators, culminating in a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court in December 2023.

Alford, meanwhile, left Latham in December 2023 after spending seven years as a partner in the firm’s litigation and trial department, specialising in white-collar crime. Prior to this, he spent four years at the Serious Fraud Office as head of banking fraud. He was called to the bar in 1992 and spent two decades at 36 Bedford Row working on national and international crime.

The news comes in the wake of structured finance partner Blake Jones’s recent move to Clifford Chance. Paul Hastings also recently bid farewell to restructuring veteran David Ereira, who joined Quinn Emanuel, bringing extensive experience in advising clients ranging from governments to debtors, creditors, and investors on insolvency and restructuring matters.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: White & Case and Proskauer make antitrust plays as Paul Hastings raids A&O in New York

Leading several high-profile moves this week, White & Case has hired antitrust partner Michael Engel from Kirkland & Ellis in London. Engel, who is dual-qualified in the UK and Germany, had been a partner at Kirkland since January 2021 and, before that, was at Sullivan & Cromwell for a decade.

Engel advises on the full scope of EU, German and UK-governed competition issues.

Speaking to Legal Business about his new firm White & Case, Engel said: ‘The firm is well placed to advise clients as they respond to toughening competition scrutiny and enforcement, such as competition authorities finding new ways to take jurisdiction over transactions falling below traditional notification thresholds and looking at new theories of harm when assessing transactions for substantive concerns.’

Elsewhere in the City, Proskauer Rose has welcomed its sixth lateral partner this year with the hire of Mary Wilks into its M&A practice from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she has spent almost 20 years. She will bring particular expertise in antitrust and competition law.

Wilks explained her decision to join Proskauer to Legal Business: ‘It’s a great combination, with Proskauer’s full service global platform and industry experience. It will allow the firm to continue delivering exceptional results for clients – especially as competition and other regulations are shifting and becoming more complex to navigate.’

Speaking of the market trends over the next 12 months, Wilks continued: ’It is a time of significant change and evolution in competition in foreign investment law.’

She pointed to the latest revisions to the Horizontal and Vertical Block Exemption Regulations, the EU’s new foreign subsidies regime and the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, published this week.

‘With all this change, you need to factor in whatever regulations are going to apply to deal planning and execution, so that you can optimise your timing and outcomes,’ Wilks said.

Also in M&A, Fladgate has hired partner Tessa Trevelyan Thomas in London from BDB Pitmans. She will bring experience working on a range of domestic and cross-border transactions, including public takeovers, private equity investments and disposals, joint ventures and reorganisations.

Meanwhile, Cadwalader has expanded its global finance practice in London with the recruit of Smridhi Gulati to co-lead its leveraged finance and private credit group. Gulati joins from Dechert in New York where she was a partner, following a ten-year run at DLA Piper.

Speaking to Legal Business, Gulati noted: ‘The firm already has a wide bench of private credit clients and is completely committed to the growth of its leverage finance and private credit practice globally.’

On trends over the coming months, Gulati added: ‘As pressure continues on the banks and the capital markets, I expect that private credit will continue to expand its share of the leveraged loan market and keep pushing into the space that was previously only open to the capital markets.’

Simmons & Simmons has welcomed CMS partner Jonathan Thorpe for its insurance practice group in London. Thorpe brings with him several years of experience as head of claims and legal counsel for managing agencies for the world’s largest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London.

Elsewhere, Paul Hastings has been busy with recruitment in the US. The firm hired John Budetti as a partner and global chair of the investment funds and private capital practice in New York. He leaves behind a 17-year long career at Kirkland and Ellis, where he has represented private fund sponsors organising funds ranging in size from $75m to $5bn.

Paul Hastings has also set back Allen & Overy’s US ambitions this week, through acquiring the Magic Circle firm’s structured credit team. New-York based partners Nick Robinson and Tracey Feng – who have both spent around four years at A&O – will lead the team, which also includes several associates.

Also in the US, DLA Piper has hired Robert da Silva Ashley as a partner in its finance group and the firm’s regional co-leader. He joined from McDermott Will & Emery where he spent two years as a partner, after spending the majority of his career as a partner at Jones Day. Da Silva Ashley will split his time between the firm’s New York and Miami offices.

Elsewhere across the globe, Rebecca Kelly has rejoined Clyde & Co as a partner in its global regulatory and investigations practice in Dubai. She initially left the firm in 2014 to join Morgan Lewis as Dubai managing partner and to lead its Middle East regulatory and disputes team.

Finally, DWF has also bolstered its insurance team in the Middle East through the hire of Victoria Clucas and Bill Evans from Kennedys. The duo will serve as insurance partners in the firm’s Dubai office.

Legal Business

Strategic recruitment: Paul Hastings taps Latham City banking team as Pallas launches in New York

Despite the typical summer slowdown of the global lateral recruitment market, there have still been plenty of eye-catching hires. Many of the headline moves have a transatlantic hue as US firms continue to attract top talent in the City, while UK firms have had mixed results in the States.

In London, Latham & Watkins’ banking vice-chair Ross Anderson and fellow partners Mo Nurmohamed, Karan Chopra and Rob Davidson joined Paul Hastings in July. The team brings a breadth of experience in leveraged finance and direct lending deals, having led on recent high-profile transactions; recent examples include acting for the arrangers of the TLB financing to support Blackstone’s acquisition of Huws Gray, and the arrangers of the financing to support Bain’s acquisition of ITP Aero, a carve out from Rolls-Royce.

Legal Business

Life During Law: Diala Minott

My mum is Syrian and my father’s Iraqi. I was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. I was influenced by the war in Lebanon and then the war in Iraq. Constantly moving and never having a place that you can call your own, but also fighting to be educated.

As a girl in Saudi Arabia, I had to dress up as a boy to go swimming and horse riding. All the things women weren’t allowed to do. When I became a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to any more. It was very obvious that I was not a boy and I found my world cut in half.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings toasts quarter century in London with 41% City revenue surge

In what the firm is hailing as ‘its best financial year ever’, Paul Hastings has posted an eye-catching 41% growth in City turnover from $108.6m to $157.2m.

Globally, Paul Hastings did not fare much worse, with worldwide turnover jumping 20% from $1.31bn to $1.57bn. This was accompanied by a 21% hike in profit per partner (PPP), which grew from $3.9m to $4.7m.

The PPP rise was matched by modest increases in overall partner headcounts, emphasising the organic nature of growth: equity partner numbers dipped slightly from 179 to 177 while the number of non-equity partners grew from 90 to 96.

It is a return to form for the typically upwardly mobile Paul Hastings, after a more muted year in 2021 which saw both global and London revenues remain broadly flat.

However, the latest London result outpaces even growth at Latham & Watkins, which increased its City turnover by 30%.

London chair and tax partner Arun Birla (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘It’s been a great team effort, no one person can take all the credit! It’s down to our fantastic clients, business professionals and attorneys. Clients have trusted us while they’ve been on a rollercoaster ride for the last couple of years, and that’s thanks to our amazing client service.’

Paul Hastings has added some high-profile lateral partners in the last year, with the three-partner white-collar team of Jonathan Pickworth, Joanna Dimmock and Rebecca Copcutt arriving from White & Case being a highlight. The firm also picked up leveraged finance partner Adrian Chiodo from Latham, litigation partner Alex Leitch from Covington & Burling, private investment funds partner Ted Craig from Dentons and securities and capital markets partner Max Kirchner from Proskauer Rose.

The firm claims its collateralised loan obligations (CLO) team, headed by partner Cameron Saylor, currently enjoys a 50% share of the European market after tripling its revenues in the last three years. The firm said: ‘The team is innovating and leading in the area of ESG as it relates to the CLO market and our work advising responsAbility, the international sustainable investment house, in relation to an innovative and novel social bond is a great example of this.’

Birla highlighted the firm’s global finance practice as another key differentiator: ‘We’ve built up a very strong position on both sides of the Atlantic. We are unique in covering a range of areas, such as structured finance, structured credit, high-yield and capital markets in the key jurisdictions.’

There were also standout mandates in the core areas of M&A and litigation. On the transactional side, Paul Hastings represented Moody Corporation on its $2bn buyout of RMS, a global provider of climate and natural disaster risk modeling and analytics, from Daily Mail and General Trust plc.

On the contentious front, the firm represented Ziad Akle, the lead defendant in the high-profile Unaoil trial, the SFO’s largest bribery trial to date. Akle’s convictions were quashed before the Court of Appeal in December 2021.

On whether such growth was sustainable in the long run given the turbulent global situation, Birla concluded: ‘That’s the million-pound question! The thing about Paul Hastings is that we are a resilient law firm. Whether it’s boom or bust we will always strive to be up there amongst the best, providing excellent client service.’

Legal Business

The ESG debate: Balancing growth and risk

As part of an ongoing series of thought leadership roundtables and webinars we have been hosting with Paul Hastings before, during and after lockdown, we were delighted to finally have an in-person debate at Paul Hastings’ London office in November. We gathered together leading general counsel (GCs) and Paul Hastings partners to discuss the role the legal team within corporates plays in advising the board on major risks – particularly environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns – without stifling healthy growth.

The session examined how businesses are facing a significant number of challenges and opportunities, and the senior in-house counsel present discussed some of the specific challenges they are facing, including re-aligning to e-commerce, re-establishing supply chains, taking advantage of excess liquidity to drive strategic M&A, responding to new ESG demands from investors and stakeholders and responding to an evolving legal and regulatory landscape.

Legal Business

The Bribery Act, ten years on: Has it properly tackled corporate misconduct?

Marking the ten-year anniversary of the Bribery Act, senior white-collar lawyers from private practice and in-house have agreed that significant progress has been made thanks to the legislation. They also engaged in a lively debate looking ahead to identify what more needs to be done to tackle corporate malfeasance.

Legal Business, in conjunction with Paul Hastings, hosted an online event featuring an all-star cast of partners and general counsel (GCs) alike with the aim of establishing whether the Act has had the enforcement impact it originally intended.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Running a people business

You have been chair of Paul Hastings’ City office since October 2018. What have been your personal highlights of how the firm has developed in London?

Arun Birla (AB): I’ve enjoyed seeing our practices grow, and not just from a client or revenue perspective, but also in other aspects that are particularly important to me – diversity and inclusion, wellness, and on the social mobility front. We’ve built on all those elements – clients, revenues and integrating new partners, alongside what some people might call the softer things, but I don’t like that term.

Legal Business

Life During Law: Anu Balasubramanian

I come from a family of lawyers. My father was a lawyer and a judge, and my brother followed in his footsteps and became a lawyer. So there was a lack of original thought on my part. I just went with the flow and followed them into the profession.

I was born and brought up in India. I went to school there and did my first degree there, in history. When I was at university, law was rarely done as an undergraduate degree and that programme has only just been introduced. When I finished my first degree, I followed in my brother’s footsteps and came to the UK to read law.