Legal Business

DLA to open new Germany base as Paul Weiss hires from Simpson and Macfarlanes for Brussels bow

DLA Piper has expanded its presence in Germany with the opening of its fifth office there, with confirmation of the move coming as Paul Weiss pushes ahead with a competition launch in Brussels.

Adding to its offices in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, and Munich, DLA Piper is set to establish in Düsseldorf on 15 April this year.

The new Düsseldorf office, under the leadership of office managing partner Michael Cieslarczyk, will comprise members of the firm’s existing 290-lawyer team in Germany. Joining Cieslarczyk will be corporate partner Murad Daghles and recently appointed employment partner Christian Freiherr von Buddenbrock and his team, known for their expertise in company pension schemes.

The firm will look to move to permanent offices in the city next year.

News of DLA Piper’s latest European expansion comes in a week of moves on the continent. Paul Weiss is set to follow its high profile London re-launch with a planned opening in Brussels, with confirmation of the launch coming on the back of a record-breaking financial year for the US firm, with revenue surging by nearly 11% in 2023 to reach $2bn.

The much-touted move sees the firm add antitrust partners Ross Ferguson from Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett and Richard Pepper from Macfarlanes for the launch.

The launch represents Paul Weiss’s first steps into continental Europe and comes amid an ambitious English-law build out under the leadership of high profile acquisition finance partner Neel Sachdev and private equity partner Roger Johnson, who joined from Kirkland last year.

DLA Piper and Paul Weiss’s expansion coincides with a strategic decision by major German law firm Noerr to separate from four of its CEE offices situated in Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest, and Prague. These offices will now join forces with European independent Kinstellar under a non-exclusive friendly cooperation arrangement.

Alexander Ritvay, co-managing partner at Noerr, explained the rationale behind this decision: ‘We have been pursuing a strategy of qualitative growth for many years. While this strategy is working very well in Germany, we have to recognise that the CEE markets have not developed in a comparable way.’

Legal Business

Paul Weiss and Kirkland break revenue records amid London lateral shakeout

Paul Weiss has broken through the $2bn global revenue mark, posting a 10.8% hike on last year, as the firm’s bold London recruitment drive continues to make headlines.

The firm’s 178 equity partners took home an average of $6.5m in 2023, with profit per equity partner (PEP) up 14.8% from $5.73m the previous year.

Overall profit came in at $1.17bn, while revenue per lawyer was up 5.3% to $1.98m from last year’s $1.88m.

In recent months, Paul Weiss has recruited some of the City’s biggest hitters, among a total of 17 partner hires. Most have joined from Kirkland & Ellis, following the defections of debt finance superstar Neel Sachdev and big-name corporate partner Roger Johnson in August. The duo joined to lead the US firm’s London office, initiating a wave of hires aimed at building up a substantial English law practice.

Sachdev brought with him a Kirkland team including debt finance partner Kanesh Balasubramaniam and capital markets partners Matthew Merkle and Deirdre Jones, while Johnson has assembled an M&A practice with ex-Kirkland partner Andreas Philipson, as well as a tax practice featuring former Kirkland partners Timothy Lowe and Cian O’Connor.

Other names joining from Kirkland have included debt finance partner Stefan Arnold-Soulby and technology and intellectual property transactions specialist John Patten.

Paul Weiss has also targeted the Magic Circle, starting with the hire of Linklaters M&A partner Will Aitken-Davies in September. Notably, Lowe, O’Connor and Patten also had stints at Linklaters.

In December, it came as no surprise when Paul Weiss hired from Linklaters again, bringing on Nicole Kar, the former head of the Magic Circle firm’s antitrust and foreign investment practice. Adding to the Linklaters alumni, the following month the firm hired public M&A partner Dan Schuster-Woldan.

Clifford Chance has also been a target, with high-profile private equity partner Christopher Sullivan and acquisition finance partner Taner Hassan coming over in December, and just last week (18 March), junior private equity partner Oliver Marcuse followed suit.

Outside of the Magic Circle, Paul Weiss has also hired former Ropes & Gray competition partner Annie Herdman, who also served at Kirkland earlier in her career.

The recruitment drive has seen a complete changing-of-the guard for Paul Weiss in London, which has had a modest City presence without English law capability since 2001. Last May deputy London head Ramy Wahbeh and corporate partner Kaisa Kuusk both left to join Sidley, followed by the departure of London managing partner Alvaro Membrillera to Kirkland in early August, a move which was one of a number of factors which sparked the flurry of moves in the opposite direction.

On the back of the new additions, the firm announced in October it was set to move into Twitter’s former UK headquarters in Soho.

Recent London deal highlights for Paul Weiss have included advising General Atlantic on its acquisition of a majority stake in coffee shop Joe & the Juice from Valedo Partners, with Johnson and Balasubramaniam working alongside partners in the US.

The seven billion dollar law firm

Despite the departures in London, Kirkland has consolidated its position as the largest law firm in the world, with global revenue increasing by 10% last year to $7.2bn, according to The American Lawyer.

The firm’s 539 equity partners took home an average of $8m as PEP increased 5.8%, with overall profit standing at $4.3bn. RPL also increased by 7.5% from $1.9m last year, to $2.05m.

As well as highly regarded private equity partner Membrillera, the firm has made a number of other significant recent additions to its team, including debt finance partners Ian Barratt and Sinead O’Shea, who joined from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, while Herbert Smith Freehills ESG head Rebecca Perlman also recently came on board in London.

O’Shea, alongside London debt finance colleague Jerome Hoyle, were recently part of a global team advising KKR on financing for its voluntary public takeover offer to all shareholders of Encavis, a leading German wind and solar park operator.

The firm’s restructuring team has also handled a number of significant mandates of late, such as advising global engineering and construction business McDermott International on the cross-border restructuring of around $2.6bn of the group’s secured debt facilities.

In 2023 Kirkland also opened a new office in Riyadh, recruiting corporate partner Noor Al-Fawzan and capital markets Manal Al-Musharaf from Latham & Watkins and White & Case respectively, to join the 20th global office of the Chicago giant.

Legal Business

Linklaters’ losses mount as Paul Weiss picks up City public M&A partner

Paul Weiss has added yet another string to its bow, again to the detriment of Linklaters, with the hire of public M&A partner Dan Schuster-Woldan in London.

The move, the latest in Paul Weiss’ seemingly relentless onslaught on elite rivals, marks its first London partner hire of 2024.

Schuster-Woldan – a Linklaters lifer – trained at Linklaters, qualifying in 2002 and was made up to partner in 2010. He is recognised in The Legal 500 for his insurance and M&A work and was most recently co-head of the Magic Circle firm’s global insurance sector group.

Schuster-Woldan brings with him experience in public and private M&A joint ventures, equity capital markets transactions – including substantive IPOs – as well as corporate restructurings. His cross-border work has included deals in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

His recent mandates include advising on the proposed sale of the Telegraph newspaper and the Spectator magazine in the UK and advising on long-term savings and retirement business Phoenix Group on its £248m acquisition of SLF of Canada UK (Sun Life UK), a UK closed book life insurance company, from Sun Life Financial Inc., in 2023.

Schuster-Woldan will join Nicole Kar, the former head of Linklaters’ antitrust and foreign investment practice, who joined Paul Weiss in December. Around the same time, it hired private equity partner Christopher Sullivan and acquisition finance partner Taner Hassan from Clifford Chance.

Back in September, Paul Weiss also hired M&A partner Will Aitken-Davies from Linklaters and focused on its tax practice by hiring former Kirkland partners Timothy Lowe and Cian O’Connor, who were also previously at Linklaters. As losses continue to mount for the Magic Circle, all eyes will be on who Paul Weiss will single out next.

Paul Weiss and Linklaters have been approached for comment.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Departures from Clifford Chance and Linklaters as US firms continue to snap up talent in London

Paul Weiss continued to cut a swathe through the London market this week with a double partner hire from Clifford Chance. The US firm brought over Legal 500 private equity leading individual Christopher Sullivan, who led the UK private equity practice at CC, and acquisition finance partner Taner Hassan, who joins as head of European leveraged finance.

The hires are the latest in a flurry of London recruitment for Paul Weiss, which is targeting some of the top corporate and finance practices in London to build out its nascent English law offering following earlier recruits from Kirkland & Ellis and Linklaters.

Meanwhile, Reed Smith has hired Linklaters capital markets partner Mark Drury into its financial industry group. Drury, a specialist in structured finance with experience advising on matters relating to fintech and crypto, told Legal Business that he has joined to help grow the firm’s collateralised loan obligations offering (CLO) in Europe.

Despite a tough year for global markets, Drury is optimistic about future prospects: ‘The CLO market has seen a decline in new issuances this year as a result of macroeconomic headwinds, but there is a sense in the market that activity will pick up next year,’ he explains. ‘There is a lot of dry powder in the system and the global economy is showing positive signs due to interest rates beginning to stabilise.’

Drury spent nearly 20 years at Linklaters after training there in 2004, making partner in 2016. His departure marks another in a recent run of losses for the magic circle firm, which also saw antitrust foreign investment head Nicole Kar leave for Paul Weiss earlier this month and tax partner James Morgan leave for Kirkland & Ellis in November.

Elsewhere, funds partner Katie McMenamin has left Travers Smith for Simpson Thacher. McMenamin made partner at Travers in 2020, and her exit follows that of fellow funds partners Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond, who also moved to Simpson Thacher in February. She has experience advising both borrowers and lenders on a variety of strategies and products including subscription and hybrid financing and secondary transactions.

In a notable hire for its white-collar practice, White & Case has recruited Macfarlanes corporate crime and investigations practice head Neill Blundell. A Legal 500 Hall of Famer, Blundell’s practice sees him advise both individuals and large corporates on a range of white-collar matters spanning from compliance to investigations.

The hire comes three years after the practice’s high-profile former head Jonathan Pickworth left for Paul Hastings with fellow white collar partner Joanna Dimmock. Blundell will now work alongside Jonah Anderson and Anneka Randhawa, who have co-led the team since Pickworth’s departure.

Bird & Bird has expanded its IP practice with the hire of life sciences and healthcare partner Nicole Jadeja. Jadeja, who was co-head of life sciences at Fieldfisher before leaving for Pinsent Masons in 2019, has experience in strategic IP advice and patent litigation, including for biotech companies working in gene and cell therapy.

Elsewhere, Morgan Lewis continued to grow in Germany, bringing in Bird & Bird private equity duo Hans ‘Peter’ Leube and Marianne Nawroth into its Frankfurt office. Leube previously headed Bird & Bird’s international PE group and German corporate practice, and both he and Nawroth focus on transactions in the telecoms and tech sectors.

Morgan Lewis opened in Munich in March with the hire of 20 lawyers from Shearman & Sterling, and the firm sets its two most recent hires in the context of an increasing focus on the German market, with firm chair Jami McKeon saying in a statement: ‘The opening of our Munich office earlier this year was an exciting step in our commitment to Germany, and with this move we continue our momentum to serve our clients in this significant and important legal and business market in Europe.’

Finally, King & Spalding expanded its Abu Dhabi corporate, finance and investments (CFI) practice group with its hire of Simon Fraser, who is recognised in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame for oil, gas and natural resources in the UAE, and Matt Hartsuyker. Both lawyers join from Ashurst, where Hartsuyker was a senior associate and Fraser headed the firm’s Middle East corporate practice.

Legal Business

The onslaught continues: Paul Weiss raids Kirkland again to hire City IP partner

Just when the market thought Paul Weiss had eased up on its hiring spree in the run-up to Christmas, the firm has hired John Patten, a partner in the London technology and intellectual property (IP) transactions practice of Kirkland & Ellis.

The move sees the Wall Street giant continue to pursue with gusto the build-out of the English law practice that has gathered momentum in short order, much to the chagrin of the management of Kirkland and Linklaters, among others.

For his part, Patten, who is joining Paul Weiss as a full equity partner, has been a partner at Kirkland since October 2021, before which he was a trainee, and subsequently an associate at Linklaters.

His practice focuses on advising clients on commercial and corporate transactions in which technology and IP play a role, as well as advising on data protection compliance with European data privacy laws.

The hire brings Paul Weiss another step closer to establishing a top-flight corporate practice to complement the formidable finance practice brought over from Kirkland in August by rainmaker Neel Sachdev.

Sachdev, along with private equity star Roger Johnson who defected from Kirkland around the same time, are co-leading Paul Weiss’ London office. The M&A offering also includes former Linklaters partner Will Aitken-Davies and former Kirkland partner Andreas Philipson.

If the strategy for Paul Weiss in London is to eventually be able to service all areas of private equity, the plan certainly seems to be coming together.

Legal Business

Go big or go home: Market reacts to Paul Weiss’ daring London play

Grabbing headlines in recent weeks, Paul Weiss has pursued an English law offering at breakneck speed, hiring some of the City’s biggest hitters. Here LB canvasses the reactions of industry peers to the Wall Street giant’s bold play.

‘The firm was keen to do something for a while and spoke to a lot of people in the market. But it needed a big name to lead it,’ commented one source with knowledge of the matter. And it is fair to say that Paul Weiss’ hire of debt superstar Neel Sachdev from Kirkland & Ellis has arguably been the most groundbreaking move the City has seen since buyout star David Higgins left Freshfields for Kirkland in 2017.

Legal Business

Paul Weiss’ hire of Kirkland rock star is the shake-up we didn’t know we needed

‘Paul Weiss hasn’t got enough partners in London for doubles ping pong!’ scoffed a senior source at the beginning of August when it emerged that the Wall Street powerhouse had lost its City managing partner, Alvaro Membrillera, to Kirkland & Ellis.

What a difference a few short weeks make. While the political skirmishes inside Kirkland that prompted the exit of private equity star Roger Johnson can only be guessed at – and, ringing around the market, there is no shortage of such rampant speculation – what followed has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Legal Business

Kirkland’s debt superstar Sachdev leads team exit as Paul Weiss launches English law practice

Debt finance rainmaker Neel Sachdev (pictured) has led a team defecting from Kirkland & Ellis to Paul Weiss, in what will be seen as a major coup for the Wall Street firm’s City ambitions.

The hire of Sachdev is arguably the most influential transfer in the City’s history since buyout star David Higgins left Freshfields for Kirkland in 2017. It is a serious show of intent for Paul Weiss in London, establishing as it does an English law offering for the first time.

Also moving to Paul Weiss with Sachdev are debt finance partner Kanesh Balasubramaniam and capital markets partners Matthew Merkle and Deirdre Jones.

Sachdev has spent two decades as one of the firm’s longest-serving London partners and top earners. With top-tier financial sponsor clients including Apollo, Bain Capital and Strategic Value Partners, his expertise lies in multi-jurisdictional leveraged buyouts and complex financing transactions across Europe, the US and Asia.

Legal Business understands that Paul Weiss will be hiring other senior lawyers in London over the next coming months.

‘We appreciate their contributions to the partnership and wish them the best at their new firm,’ said a spokesperson at Kirkland.

Paul Weiss has also hired a four-partner team from Kirkland in New York led by debt finance partner Eric Wedel and including Ben Steadman.

The London hires mean that Paul Weiss is following in the footsteps of Cravath, which in March hired Philip Stopford and Korey Fevzi from Shearman & Sterling, in establishing an English law capability.

The incoming four partners will be joining Paul Weiss’ existing three partners in London, as indicated on the firm’s website: David Carmona and Adam Wollstein, promoted to partnership in December 2018 and January 2021 respectively, along with David Lakhdhir, who co-founded the office in 2001 alongside Mark Bergman, who gas been serving as of counsel in Washington DC since 2021.

Less than two weeks ago, Kirkland also lost distinguished corporate partner Roger Johnson, who is recognised as a top individual for high-value private equity in The Legal 500. After more than seven years at Kirkland, Johnson left the firm after Kirkland’s management discovered that he was in discussions to take a team with him to a rival firm. Conversely the same week, Kirkland hired the well-respected private equity partner Alvaro Membrillera from Paul Weiss, where he was London managing partner.

Legal Business

Slaughter and May leads as Freshfields and Paul Weiss take key roles on £900m Michael Kors buyout of Jimmy Choo

Slaughter and MayFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerPaul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom are all advising on Michael Kors’ £900m offer for luxury British fashion company Jimmy Choo.

Under the agreement, the shoemaker would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Michael Kors. Its shareholders will receive £2.3 in cash for each of their Jimmy Choo shares, 36p above the £1.68 share price the day before Jimmy Choo’s parent JAB Luxury announced it would launch a formal sale process in April.

Slaughter and May acted for Michael Kors in the UK, while Paul Weiss advised the company on US corporate and financing aspects. The Slaughters team is comprised of London-based corporate and commercial partner Jeffrey Twentyman, competition partner Lisa Wright and tax partner Sara Luder.

Paul Weiss team’s team was led by New York-based corporate partners Justin Hamill and Tom de la Bastide, alongside co-head of North America capital markets and securities John Kennedy.

Freshfields acted for Jimmy Choo via corporate partner Christopher Mort, with support from corporate partner Alison Smith, employment partner Nick Squire and antitrust partner Alex Potter.

Skadden represented Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as financial advisers. The Skadden team included M&A New York-based partner Paul Schnell and Washington-based partner Jeremy London, as well as London-based corporate partner Scott Hopkins and banking partner Clive Wells.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved the transaction but has yet to be voted in by Jimmy Choo’s shareholders.

The deal will be subject to regulatory approvals in the EU, US and Russia and is expected to complete in the fourth quarter of 2017.

When Jimmy Choo floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2014, the issuer, private investment firm JAB Holdings owned by the German billionaire Reimann family, instructed Freshfields with Mort as leading partner. Hogan Lovells acted for Jimmy Choo at the time on its long-term incentive plans, while Linklaters advised on refinancing matters.

The Michael Kors offer is part of a string of foreign takeovers generating work in the city this year as foreign buyers take advantage of the drop in the value of the pound since Britain voted to leave the EU.

Legal Business

‘Firing on all cylinders’: Freshfields appoints Paul Weiss lawyer to head US IP team

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringerhas appointed Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrisonlawyer Menachem Kaplan (pictured) as its first partner to head up the firm’s intellectual property (IP) capabilities in the US.

Kaplan joins Freshfields today (24 July) as the firm’s first IP partner to be based in New York. He joins Freshfield’s international IP offering led by three existing IP partners elsewhere – Avril Martindale and Giles Pratt in London and Frank-Erich Hufnagel in Dusseldorf.

His practice focuses on IP, with an emphasis on licensing, joint ventures, emerging technologies and settlements.

An experienced patent lawyer, Kaplan has worked for the last 11 years at Paul Weiss, his latest role as a counsel in the firm’s corporate department. Previously he was a foreign associate in Argentinian firm Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal in Buenos Aires for a year.

Kaplan’s key mandates include the Nortel bankruptcy and the sale of the Nortel patent to Rockstar Consortium in 2011, where he represented the buyers, including Ericsson and Microsoft. He also represented General Atlantic in March this year on in their strategic investment in General Information Services.

Peter Lyons, Freshfields’ US managing partner said that the ability to navigate the tech space ‘with sophistication’ is critical to the firm’s clients. Co-head of the firm’s global M&A practice Matthew Herman also said that Kaplan’s ability to ‘handle the most complex of IP-driven transactions for clients will be immediately accretive to our strong team of NY-based transactional lawyers’.

Kaplan told Legal Business that Freshfields has been very busy in the US ‘across the board’ and that ‘IP is becoming more and more of a global strategy, so he welcomed the opportunity to join a global platform already firing on all cylinders.’

He said he will continue to execute the firm’s existing corporate strategy.

‘Getting additional corporate mandates, with IP as key, will help support the growth of the corporate department and the global platform,’ he added.

In the last two years, Freshfields boosted its US platform with a string of star hires including Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate trio Valerie Ford Jacob, Michael Lewitt and Paul Tropp, Shearman & Sterling’s M&A veteran Peter Lyons, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s experienced corporate disputes specialist Linda Martin and, most recently late last year, corporate partner Aly El Hamamsy from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.