Legal Business

Ted at the wheel – all change at Quinn in the City as East becomes senior partner as Greeno joins leadership

Ted at the wheel – all change at Quinn in the City as East becomes senior partner as Greeno joins leadership

Disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has revamped its City leadership team, with Richard East vacating the co-managing partner role to become senior partner in London. Ted Greeno, meanwhile, has moved into the co-managing partner position to head the firm alongside longstanding co-head Sue Prevezer QC.

East had been the co-managing partner alongside Prevezer since the firm launched its London office in 2008. Under East’s joint stewardship, Quinn’s ascent has been impressive, with the LA-born litigation outfit growing revenues 220% between 2008 and 2018 throughout Asia and Europe.

Meanwhile in February, the firm’s City revenues hit £83.6m after a 16% rise. Quinn also struck a big victory against Banco Popular in October 2018, representing a number of clients suing the bank for a loss of shares following its €1 sale to Santander in 2017.

A former Herbert Smith veteran who joined Quinn in 2013, Greeno (pictured) now assumes East’s former position and hopes to continue the current level of growth at the firm. ‘Over the years the firm has grown from essentially a start-up to a very substantial law firm,’ Greeno told Legal Business. ‘We want to move into the next stage now and continue to grow. The performance so far has been outstanding and I now want us to take advantage of our new size and scale.’

While no formal election took place, Greeno says his move into the vacant co-managing partner position came after broad consensus at the firm. East, meanwhile, is expected to continue fee-earning at the firm after becoming senior partner.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Quinn Emanuel adds star Covington partner as Ropes & Gray and Mishcon make hires

Revolving doors: Quinn Emanuel adds star Covington partner as Ropes & Gray and Mishcon make hires

City firms welcomed a host of new partners over Easter, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Ropes & Gray and Mishcon de Reya all making key lateral partner hires.

Quinn has reinforced its already robust London competition practice with the hire of Elaine Whiteford (pictured), who joins from Covington & Burling’s City office. Whiteford has substantial pedigree with 15 years’ experience in follow-on damages litigation, cartels and other regulatory investigations.

She arrives when Quinn is making a concerted competition litigation drive: the firm has two big-ticket cases on its books, with partner Boris Bronfentrinker defending truck maker Daimler in a mass cartel case, as well as consumer rights activist Walter Merricks in his claim against MasterCard.

Last week the Court of Appeal set aside a previous Competition Appeal Tribunal judgment, allowing the £14bn MasterCard claim to proceed.

Whiteford commented: ‘Like many other competition lawyers, I have watched with admiration as the competition team at Quinn Emanuel swiftly carved out a market-leading position in competition litigation in London.’

Boris Bronfentrinker, co-head of Quinn’s London competition team, told Legal Business: ‘Elaine has extensive experience from some of the most significant cases in the English courts, and can operate on either the defendant or claimant side which fits the bill of what we need.’

He added: ‘Competition litigation is a primary growth area for the firm globally but also in London. It’s quite staggering how we’ve grown in the five years since I’ve been here, from zero partners to four and nine specialist associates.’

Meanwhile, Ropes has made a major financial regulation play with the appointment of O’Melveny & Myers’ London partner Eve Ellis.

Ellis becomes the 24th partner in Ropes’ London office, bringing with her experience in advising fund and asset managers on fund structuring, the marketing of financial products and the establishment of regulated businesses.

Mike Goetz, co-managing partner of Ropes’ London office, said: ‘Eve’s regulatory experience will be highly valued by our asset management clients, who are increasingly seeking UK and EU regulatory advice relating to AIFMD and MiFID II.’

Ellis’ departure is the third from O’Melveny’s City outpost in less than a month, as the US-bred firm gears up for a potential merger with Allen & Overy. Private equity funds partners Daniel Quinn and Aleksander Bakic swapped O’Melveny for Akin Gump at the end of March.

Finally, Mishcon has launched a new debt advisory service with the hire of real estate partner Omega Poole from Brown Rudnick. She has experience advising on a variety of transactions such as single asset, portfolio, direct or credit investments.

Nick Strutt, who heads up Mishcon’s real estate finance group, commented: ‘She is an impressive individual who will help our clients navigate the market during these unsettled times, advising on the many alternative financing opportunities that are emerging in order to help them secure the best deals possible.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

City revenues shoot up 16% after another bumper year for Quinn Emanuel

City revenues shoot up 16% after another bumper year for Quinn Emanuel

Disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has continued its impressive run of form in London as City revenues for 2018 shot up 16% to £83.6m.

The US-bred firm also saw profits rise 13% to £59.3m. As a result, Quinn’s London profit margin is consistent with the business globally at 70%. Quinn London co-managing partner Richard East told Legal Business: ‘We had a strong year last year after we added lateral partners and launched some key new practice areas, such as contentious tax and construction arbitration. To be up 16% with the same number of people was very pleasing.’ 

The firm unveiled an outstanding set of financial results last January, including a striking 61% growth in City revenues .

A number of key cases settled in Quinn’s favour in 2018, with the $3bn Court of Appeal Eurobonds dispute between Ukraine and Russia being a major highlight. Quinn successfully represented Ukraine in the case, instructing Fountain Court Chambers’ Bankim Thanki QC and Blackstone Chambers’ Ben Jaffey QC.

The firm also struck a big victory against Banco Popular in October 2018, representing a number of clients suing the bank for a loss of shares following its £1 sale to Santander in 2017.

The robust financial results come from a UK disputes market that appears to have softened somewhat in the last 12 to 18 months. As an example, after similarly above-trend revenues and profits in 2016/17, Stewarts saw turnover dip by over 20% to £62.4m after a swing in contingency fees.

However, 2018 was not an unmitigated success for Quinn in the UK. The firm took a substantial PR hit last May when London partner Mark Hastings was sacked following an investigation into ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Hastings was dismissed following an independent probe by Alison Levitt QC, instigated by allegations by two members of staff.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Global 100 ten-year view: Bad timing

Global 100 ten-year view: Bad timing

In the last boom year in 2008 before the global financial crisis took its toll, the picture was rosy for UK-bred law firms. Riding high on an exchange rate that was more than two dollars to the pound, Clifford Chance (CC) topped the table with revenues of nearly $2.7bn, heading a list of seven $2bn+ firms, of which four were Magic Circle and another, DLA Piper, the result of a headline-grabbing UK/US tie-up.

Buoyed by their own success, the messages from the City elite were naturally upbeat. Not least because those firms felt that with the globalisation of legal services in full swing and the focus of clients shifting away from New York and towards markets like China and India, their attractiveness to US suitors had never been greater. ‘We want to be the number one global law firm and, without a strong US component, we won’t achieve that,’ said Linklaters’ then firm-wide managing partner Simon Davies. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s chief executive at the time, Ted Burke, echoed the point: ‘We’ve never seen so much interest in us from New York firms.’

Legal Business

Associate pay: Freshfields joins salary race as global firms jostle for talent in US

Associate pay: Freshfields joins salary race as global firms jostle for talent in US

More details are emerging on associate pay at Magic Circle firms as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has joined the list of firms to announce increased salaries for US associates, as competition to recruit top lawyers intensifies.

The move by Freshfields will see the firm match the rates set by Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, which set the standard for raising the starting salary for new lawyers two weeks ago, with Freshfield’s US associates now starting on $190,000 and rising to $330,000 in their eighth year.

Despite matching Milbank’s rates, pay is below that the rates announced by Magic Circle counterpart Clifford Chance (CC), which will pay also junior associates $190,000 but this will eventually rise to $350,000 for senior associates. CC also announced summer bonuses starting at $5,000 for junior lawyers rising to $25,000 associates from the 2009 class and more senior.

The issue of associate pay has seen firms begin to jostle with each other, as CC’s rates closely-matched those of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which announced a new scale of $190,000 for first year associates to rising to $340,000 for senior associates, as both firms surpass the levels announced by Milbank for mid-level and senior associates.

In addition, Quinn announced a pay hike for junior London lawyers, which sees associates start on £125,000, potentially rising to £245,000 for senior associates. Despite being below New York rates, Quinn’s London salary announcement means a sharp hike for associates in many bands, particularly in the class of 2013, who will see a pay increase of £30,000 from £155,000 to £185,000.

The latest pay rises come as City firms wrestle with fee pressure from core blue-chip clients, while expansionist US firms continue to attract Magic Circle talent and inflate the market rate for the best deal lawyers. With good growth predicted for Magic Circle firms this year, the associate pay increases could go some way towards steering young talent in the direction of the established City players as US firms continue to stretch London salaries.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Boutiques: Highly evolved

Boutiques: Highly evolved

With the disputes market evolving and clients becoming more discerning, it has been a phenomenal ten years for boutique law firms focused on litigation. The pressure on generalist, mid-market dispute teams has played towards this dynamic, leaving true contentious specialists increasingly going head-to-head with the traditional London elite.

A glance at the financial results of some of the main litigation specialists – Stewarts, Signature Litigation and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan – shows dramatic increases in revenue amid a string of major cases.

Legal Business

The International Arbitration Summit: Trusting the cowboys

The International Arbitration Summit: Trusting the cowboys

I am going to take a narrow view of a narrow subject: less of a keynote speech, more of a keyhole speech. Indeed, it is through a keyhole that I will ask you to join me in a voyeuristic peer into the room of what I call broken arbitrations, the room into which I have stuffed myriad examples of how the process of arbitration can too easily become corrupted.

And ‘keyhole’ is apt, in that privacy and confidentiality – and I hope we understand that they are very different things – prevent the door to arbitration from ever fully opening. It is merely through a keyhole that we form our impressions and understandings of what happens in actual cases.

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel sacks City partner after inappropriate conduct investigation

Quinn Emanuel sacks City partner after inappropriate conduct investigation

In the latest of a string of allegations of bad behaviour facing the legal industry, disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has sacked City partner Mark Hastings after an investigation into ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

The US-based law firm today (10 May) issued a statement regarding allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ made by two staff members against Hastings (pictured) in February. Quinn Emanuel suspended Hastings in response and commissioned an independent investigation, carried out by Alison Levitt QC of Mishcon de Reya.

Levitt’s findings were presented on 26 April, and Quinn subsequently expelled Hastings without compensation on 8 May.

Quinn’s statement notes that the firm has ‘not sought, nor will we seek, any form of non-disclosure agreement from the complainants in relation to the allegations that they have made’.

The statement adds: ‘Quinn Emanuel takes allegations of the nature made against Mr Hastings extremely seriously. We will not tolerate abusive behaviour from anyone within the firm.’

It is an ignominious departure for the fraud specialist, who had joined the firm in December 2016 from Addleshaw Goddard. Trained at Herbert Smith, Hastings boasted high-profile mandates such as serving as the lead partner for Boris Berezovsky in several cases, including a $6bn commercial court claim against Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. He was known to be one of Addleshaws’ top billers.

Though the precise nature of the allegations is unknown, the expulsion comes after six months of uncomfortable headlines for the legal industry regarding claims of lax handling of abusive behaviour. The profession has also been criticised for its role in drafting non-disclosure agreements that have helped to keep a lid on historic allegations across many industries.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel lays down outstanding marker with 61% surge in City revenue and profit

Quinn Emanuel lays down outstanding marker with 61% surge in City revenue and profit

Disputes powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has seen London revenues rise by a startling 61%, with net profit increasing by the same margin.

The US-based player’s revenue stands at £71.9m, up from last year’s figure of £44.8m. Net profit also rose from £32.6m to £52.6m. As a result, the firm’s profit margin is now a staggering 73%.

The results are even more impressive considering that the office’s headcount has expanded modestly since January 2017, with the number of partners remaining static at 18. However the number of other lawyers in the office has grown from 33 to 47.

Richard East, co-managing partner of Quinn’s London office (pictured), commented: ‘The results are very pleasing and represent serious and significant contributions from all our London partners, including the new joiners. We have also achieved these results despite recent (albeit unusual) partner losses and the fact that we have had overlapping lease obligations on two offices. But we are now focused on 2018 and the challenge for us now is to beat this and grow again.’

As alluded to by East, Quinn saw three partners leave during 2017, despite going the previous nine years with no partner exits. In January last year, Martin Davies joined rival US pace-setter Latham & Watkins. Davies had previously acted on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £4bn rights issue litigation .

In May last year, Quinn saw litigation and arbitration specialist Paul Friedman join national firm Gunnercooke. Friedman, who spent the majority of his time at Quinn working in the Middle East, had previously spent nearly 13 years of head of banking disputes and commercial fraud at Clyde & Co.

The third departure of the year came in July, when Latham returned to Quinn for David Berman. Berman was appointed as head of Latham’s financial services and regulatory division.

Despite the exiting trio, 2017 did see Quinn hire Clifford Chance’s touted tax investigations head Liesl Fichardt.

The results represent an eye-catching return for the high-performing City practice of this bullish disputes firm, which posted 41% revenue growth in 2015 and 33% in 2014, although this growth slowed slightly in 2016 by its own very high standards, at 21%, while profits remained steady.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel breaks tradition as merger talks with DC disputes leader Williams & Connolly begin

Quinn Emanuel breaks tradition as merger talks with DC disputes leader Williams & Connolly begin

US litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has entered into merger discussions with Washington DC disputes shop Williams & ConnollyLegal Business can reveal.

Negotiations between the two began in the past month. The tie-up would mark Quinn’s first full-scale merger with the aim of complementing its existing white-collar and product liability practices, as well as its general contentious coverage in the DC area.

Quinn Emanuel managing partner John Quinn said: ‘It is true that we had a meeting on this subject but it was very preliminary and we don’t know what, if anything, will come of this.’

Williams & Connolly now comprises over 300 lawyers and ranks 94th in the latest Global 100 with a turnover of $420m and profit per equity partner standing at $1.6m. In contrast, Quinn – the second-most profitable law firm in the world, which has made a virtue of being one of the premier independent disputes specialists – has a PEP of more than $5m against global revenues of $1.2bn.

A tie-up would give Williams & Connolly lawyers access to Quinn’s expanding international footprint as well as US offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley. A union also would be a rare marriage of leading US law firms and further cement the dramatic rise to global prominence over the last decade of the iconoclastic Quinn Emanuel.

Williams & Connolly is ranked as tier 1 by The Legal 500 in commercial disputes and product liability, and is listed as tier 2 in corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defence.

It was founded in 1967 by illustrious litigator Edward Bennett Williams and his former student Paul Connolly. Since its formation, it has gained reputation for representing high-profile political clients such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Tony Blair.

In May, media reports claimed that Williams & Connolly lawyer Brendan Sullivan Jr had made it onto a four-strong shortlist to represent Donald Trump against investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election. The firm can also boast a cross-sector client base including Pfizer, Sony, Samsung, HSBC, Bank of America and Google.

Williams & Connolly declined to comment.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk