Legal Business

Revolving doors: Former Quinn white collar head sets up City boutique as Shearman and HFW make Paris corporate plays

Revolving doors: Former Quinn white collar head sets up City boutique as Shearman and HFW make Paris corporate plays

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s former white-collar crime and corporate investigations head in London Robert Amaee has launched a boutique – Amaee Law – in what has been a muted week for City laterals.

Elsewhere, firms have bolstered their European offices with Shearman & Sterling and HFW hiring corporate partners in Paris and Watson Farley & Williams adding to its employment bench in Munich.

Amaee’s firm specialises in financial crime, government enforcement, international investigations and compliance. It advises on UK financial crime law for companies, senior executives and high net worth individuals on fraud, bribery and money laundering as well as on internal investigations.

Amaee also previously served as head of anti-corruption, proceeds of crime and international assistance at the Serious Fraud Office.

Meanwhile, Shearman has hired M&A partner Thomas Philippe to its corporate team in Paris. Philippe, who joins from US rival Mayer Brown, specialises in private equity, advising financial sponsors on their investments and leveraged buyouts.

Philippe told Legal Business: ‘The firm has already created strong capabilities in private equity in other offices like London, Italy, German, the US and the Middle East. The idea was to complement this with a private equity specialist in Paris to be able to develop the network. I’ll be able to bring my expertise and client portfolio to boost and enhance the Paris activity and the relationship with the other private equity professionals across the network.

Philippe pointed to a growing private equity market in Paris and the emergence of new players as key trends. ‘There are a lot of deals on the Paris market and the higher the value is, the more competition there is. You don’t have that many attractive targets for large value deals, so that makes the competition more intense than the small-cap market,’ he added.

Also in Paris, HFW grew its global transactional offering with the hire of former Paul Hastings corporate partner Aline Poncelet. With 25 years’ experience, Poncelet advises on French corporate, M&A and capital markets, share issues, takeover bids, financial services and corporate governance. She acts for listed and private corporations, insurance companies, financial institutions, fintech and investment funds. She will work closely with HFW’s Paris finance team, including partners Diane de Mouy, Jean-Marc Zampa and Richard Jadot.

HFW said that the hire of Poncelet, the second transactional partner acquisition in the last two weeks after aviation finance lawyer Asheesh Das from Elix Aviation Capital, is part of a broader push in its corporate and finance practices.

HFW Paris office head Guillaume Brajeux told Legal Business: ‘Aline’s extensive experience advising and representing clients in complex M&A and corporate matters is a perfect complement to our existing practices. The strengthening of our transactional offer has been a priority for our Paris office, and Aline’s arrival is an important contribution to its development.’

In Munich, Watson Farley & Williams appointed employment partner Philipp Byers from Lutz Abel where he was head of the employment law practice group, advising on workplace privacy and employment law compliance issues. He brings with him two associates.

Byers said: ‘With its highly-regarded German employment law team and international focus, WFW represents a superb platform from which I can both improve the service I offer my existing clients and expand my practice. I greatly look forward to working closely with all my new colleagues, especially employment partners Nikolaus Krienke and Andreas Wiegreffe.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Expansive Goodwin makes another City tech play as Dechert and Quinn hire further afield

Revolving doors: Expansive Goodwin makes another City tech play as Dechert and Quinn hire further afield

Following a string of hires to expand its London office this year, Goodwin Procter has again added to its City technology and life sciences practice with the hire of partner Ali Ramadan from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Ramadan has experience in venture capital, cross-border M&A and private equity transactions for technology businesses. He acts for start-ups, high-growth companies and investors operating in the technology, fintech, proptech and digital media industries.

Goodwin has been in full-on expansion mode in the City in recent months, in July adding a significant string to its bow in the form of a four-partner technology and life sciences team from Taylor Wessing.

That team hire of Taylor Wessing’s head of life sciences Malcolm Bates, David Mardle, Tim Worden and Adrian Rainey was another step in Goodwin’s stated ambition to bolster its London bench in this specialist sector.

Ramadan told Legal Business: ‘The attraction to Goodwin was really their technology platform. It’s a great firm with a great reputation in tech, at the cutting edge of all these deals. I’m looking forward to working together with UK and US teams in terms of helping to build out the lifecycle tech practice here in London.’

Co-chair of Goodwin’s technology practice Anthony McCusker told Legal Business: ‘We’ve seen the lifecycle practice in London and Europe develop closely to how we see it in the US.

‘We think we’re well positioned to gain market share and continue to be active. Investors and companies look to the people that are best positioned to help them. Our expectation is that if there’s less work to spread around, they’ll continue to work with a firm like ours. Whether there’s a slowdown in the market or not we think that not being aggressive to build for what the market needs would be a big mistake,’ McCusker added.

Also acquisitive recently has been Dechert, with the Philadelphia-headquartered outfit hiring Philip Dowsett to its private equity, corporate and investment funds practice in Dubai.

Dowsett was previously a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Dubai and is a seasoned lawyer in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity investments, disposals, restructuring and takeovers, as well as corporate governance and investment fund structuring.

He has represented and advised numerous private equity groups in the region over the last ten years, with clients including Dubai International Capital, NBK Capital Partners, Abraaj, Amanat Holdings, Greenstone Equity Partners and Sico Trucial.

Dowsett told Legal Business: ‘On the private equity, M&A and funds side, there’s really no better firm on those practices than Dechert in the region. The real estate practice is one of the leading ones in the region.’

Regional managing partner Chris Sioufi told Legal Business: ‘The market has been more difficult for the last two years in the region because of the geopolitical tensions. We have seen a slowdown in foreign money coming into the region but we have positioned ourselves to be able to take advantage of outflows of money and assist our regional clients who are either setting up or investing in funds in other jurisdictions or doing acquisitions out of the region.’

The hire of Dowsett follows those of real estate partners Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood last year in Dubai.

Elsewhere, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hired international arbitration partner Mark McNeill in New York at the expense of the London office of Shearman & Sterling.

McNeill has experience in advocacy and representing companies and states in numerous commercial and investment treaty arbitrations. He focuses on intellectual property, technology, nuclear construction, pharmaceuticals, business combinations, oil & gas, taxation, mining, insurance, and reinsurance.

McNeill told Legal Business: ‘Quinn Emanuel has some of the best trial lawyers in the world. If you like going to trial then it’s just a great place to be.

‘There’s a remarkable geographic shift to Asia in particular. You have more disputes arising from parties based in Asia. More cases in Africa and a lot of infrastructure projects which inevitably are giving rise to disputes. I see mining claims and still very high oil & gas claims,’ McNeill added.

Shoosmiths also grew its real estate team with the hire of planning and development partner Karen Howard from DLA Piper. She has experience in strategic planning on large regeneration schemes and advises across sectors including residential, offices, industrial, retail, hotels and leisure.

Howard commented: ‘I joined Shoosmiths because what motivates me is the ethos of teamwork here and pulling together with my colleagues across the UK. The people here are super-friendly and it’s inspiring to join Shoosmiths at a time when the firm is growing.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Disputes heavyweights weigh in as Burford Capital alleges ‘illegal manipulation’ of shares after Muddy Waters attack

Disputes heavyweights weigh in as Burford Capital alleges ‘illegal manipulation’ of shares after Muddy Waters attack

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Morrison & Foester have all been enlisted by litigation funder Burford Capital to pursue claims of illegal market manipulation by short-seller Muddy Waters.

Burford today (12 August) said in a statement that a preliminary finding of its analysis of trading shares last week displayed ‘evidence consistent with illegal market manipulation.’ The statement came after more than £1bn was wiped off the company’s value last week after San Francisco-based Muddy Waters published a report suggesting Burford was ‘a perfect storm for an accounting fiasco.’

This morning’s statement added: ‘While Burford continues to analyse the data, it has made regulatory authorities and criminal prosecutors aware of these preliminary conclusions and Burford is considering its own options.’

This is the latest hit as the pair continue to exchange blows. Burford had looked at trading its shares on 6 August, the same day that Muddy Waters tweeted about an upcoming short target. The next day, Muddy Waters published a report which delivered a diatribe against Burford, describing the litigation funder as a ‘poor business masquerading as a great one.’ Burford responded by calling the report ‘disgusting.’

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) confirmed today via a statement that it is looking into the matter: ‘The FCA has been aware of these matters since the first tweet and price movements on Tuesday of last week and at that point we began undertaking wide-ranging enquiries. We will continue to make enquiries using the wide range of data and resources at our disposal.’

Moreover, Muddy Waters is unlikely to be the last short-seller to launch a broadside on the company. Fellow short-seller Gotham City Research – which notoriously helped sink technology provider Quindell in 2014 – has since added pressure by suggesting Burford was ‘inappropriately financed.’

The controversy falls against a backdrop of considerable growth in third-party litigation funding over the last decade, with low interest rates and investor demand to gain access to professional services both accelerating the industry. However, the circling of short-sellers around Burford will fuel many critics who believe the industry requires greater oversight and transparency, while a prolonged legal dispute between Burford and Muddy Waters looks increasingly likely.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

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.