Legal Business

Late to the party: Reed Smith hires partners from five firms for Brussels launch

Late to the party: Reed Smith hires partners from five firms for Brussels launch

Reed Smith has opened its fifth European office in Brussels, following the hire of five partners to the firm’s corporate group.

The partners all come from different firms, and will be joined by two associates and one counsel. The partners focus on competition/antitrust, with Brussels long being a hub for international firms’ competition work.

‘It could easily be argued we should have been in Brussels previously,’ Reed Smith’s managing partner for Europe & Middle East Tamara Box told Legal Business. ‘But realistically you have to follow client demand, and the demand has been for more presence in competition and antitrust but also regulatory and trade.’

The partners include EU competition lawyers Christian Filippitsch (formerly of Norton Rose Fulbright), Geert Goeteyn (formerly of Shearman & Sterling) and Isabelle Rahman (formerly of Sheppard Mullin); trade remedy and investigations lawyer Yves Melin (formerly of Steptoe & Johnson); and EU regulatory lawyer Wim Vandenberghe (formerly of Deloitte Legal). The firm will now focus on hiring associates to support the new partners.

Reed Smith opened its first European office in Paris in 2005, while the latest launch prior to the Brussels office was in Frankfurt in 2015. The firm now counts five offices in Europe and 30 globally.

The launch comes with competition law set to be reshaped in light of Brexit, as the UK’s leaving of the bloc takes the country out of the European Commission’s competition directorate’s jurisdiction.

Since the referendum, US tech leader Cooley, London intellectual property and technology specialist Bristows, Macfarlanes and Wall Street firm Sullivan & Cromwell have all opened in Brussels. Others, meanwhile, have expanded their local competition practices in the city. The renewed focus comes as several rulings from the European Commission in recent years have propelled competition law up the agenda, such as the veto to the merger between German and French train manufacturers Siemens and Alstom, and multibillion-euro fines on tech giant Google.

‘Brexit is just one of the things, there is also Trump and it’s all going in the same direction,’ Melin added. ‘International trade is becoming more difficult, entering the European market is becoming more difficult. The current environment is actually strengthening the European Union, it’s making Brussels more significant.’

For more on the Brussels legal market, read ‘Letter from… Brussels

Legal Business

‘Not a chance’: Reed Smith rules out a listing as it lands ABS licence approval

‘Not a chance’: Reed Smith rules out a listing as it lands ABS licence approval

Reed Smith has made good on its plans to secure an alternative business structure (ABS) licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), but has ruled out the move will be part of a process to pursue an initial public offering (IPO).

The change in regulatory status also allows the firm to be owned or managed by those without legal qualifications, with Reed Smith eyeing a widened provision of service beyond conventional law. The change in structure will not change the firm’s limited liability partnership status, which includes a single partnership and profit pool in the UK, France, Greece, UAE and China.

‘We’ve been trying to get to this stage for some time,’ Reed Smith European and Middle East managing partner Tamara Box (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘We kept coming across opportunities we liked but they would have required an ABS. Part of that is the talent acquisition.’

Obtaining an ABS licence is often the groundwork before moving to towards alternative ways to raise capital, with Gordon Dadds, Keystone and DWF among those who opted to list on the stock market in recent years. Law firms were first enabled to convert to an ABS after the introduction of the Legal Services Act in 2007. In the US, individuals without legal qualification can only be partners in Washington D.C. while the push to allow for ABS models throughout the wider country continues. Part of the delay in Reed Smith securing an ABS licence was aligning the structure with a potential post-Brexit regulatory landscape, according to Box.

Financially Reed Smith has overseen an indifferent year according the firm’s most recent LLP accounts, with turnover across the majority of its non-US offices crawling forward 1%, while operating profit fell almost 5%.

‘Everyone wants to focus on an IPO, but we’re very much an LLP in mindset, so it’s off the cards, there’s not a chance,’ said Box. ‘Collaborating with a client or specific partner is something I could see happening, but there’s nothing on the table right now.’

Legal Business

SRA drops sexual harassment inquiry into former Reed Smith partner

SRA drops sexual harassment inquiry into former Reed Smith partner

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has dropped an investigation into a former Reed Smith partner who was dismissed from the firm over a complaint of sexual harassment.

The allegation came to light last November, with the matter reported to have involved the sexual harassment of a junior female trainee, while the unnamed London-based partner was dismissed from the firm in late 2017.

An SRA spokesperson said today (22 August): ‘We have looked at all the available information and decided to close the matter with no further action. If further information is made available, we can look again at the issues.’

It is not known when exactly Reed Smith reported the matter to the SRA as the firm initially declined to comment last year on whether or not it had referred the matter on.

A Reed Smith spokesperson said today: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment save to say that we are committed to providing a positive and professional workplace for all our people.  The safety and well-being of all of our colleagues are hugely important to us and we will always take swift and appropriate action where that is needed.’

Incidentally, Reed Smith is one of the few major law firms to have a female leader in the shape of finance rainmaker Tamara Box, who serves as its European managing partner.

The matter follows several uncomfortable #MeToo developments in the legal profession, with Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins, Dentons and Herbert Smith Freehills among those last year embroiled in complaints of inappropriate behaviour by partners. Last month, the SRA decided to refer Baker McKenzie and its former London head Gary Senior for prosecution to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) after its investigation found he had ‘behaved in an inappropriate manner’ and ‘sought to initiate intimate activity’ with a junior member of staff in 2012.

Legal Business

The comeback kid: Return to form as Reed Smith hikes London revenue 18% to $222m

The comeback kid: Return to form as Reed Smith hikes London revenue 18% to $222m

Reed Smith has bolstered City revenue by 18% to $222m amid a reversal of fortune which has seen global revenue rise for the second year running after a disappointing spell.

Global turnover increased 5% to $1.17bn after the Pittsburgh-bred firm last year bounced back following two consecutive years of decline, increasing its top line by 4% to $1.12bn in 2017.

The figures for 2018/19 show a 7% uptick in profit per equity partner (PEP) to $1.26m from $1.17m last year. Revenue per lawyer saw a 5% increase to $761k while overall lawyer headcount inched forward by 0.4%.

‘There’s been a variety of factors at work in the last year, the key one is we have been carrying out sophisticated matters and our lawyers are working hard,’ Reed Smith global managing partner Sandy Thomas told Legal Business. ‘We’re growing now because we had a strategy and a plan in place, and some of the investments we made from three or four years ago have now come online.’

There was a balanced contribution towards growth from all practice areas, according to Thomas, though the firm’s transactional practice enjoyed a standout year while the disputes practice gained momentum throughout 2018. The investment in a 50-strong team from King & Wood Mallesons in 2017 for its London, Frankfurt, Paris and Munich offices has also started to make returns for the firm.

However the year was not without its drawbacks. A #MeToo episode emerged at Reed Smith late last year when a partner was dismissed following a complaint of sexual harassment.

Thomas was also keen to stress the success of the firm’s Leeds efficiency hub. Launched in April last year, the low cost legal services centre was modelled on its successful centre in Pittsburgh.

‘We have significant momentum going into 2019,’ Thomas concluded. ‘There’s a pipeline full of important matters.’

Legal Business

Latest #MeToo episode emerges as Reed Smith dismisses partner following complaint

Latest #MeToo episode emerges as Reed Smith dismisses partner following complaint

Reed Smith has dismissed a partner in its London office after a complaint of sexual harassment, it has emerged. Originally reported on RollonFriday, the unnamed partner was accused of sexually harassing a junior female trainee, though the nature of the incident has not been clarified.

The episode has just emerged but the partner was dismissed in late 2017. In a statement, Reed Smith commented: ‘As soon as we became aware of this incident, which took place over a year ago, we took swift and appropriate action. The safety and well-being of all of our colleagues matter greatly to us, and we are committed to providing a positive and professional workplace for all our people.’

The firm did not confirm whether the matter had been reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), however, a spokesman for Reed Smith said the firm took ‘all appropriate action’. Incidentally, Reed Smith is one of the few major law firms to have a female leader in the shape of finance rainmaker Tamara Box, who serves as its European managing partner.

The matter is the latest uncomfortable development for the legal profession, with Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins, Dentons and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) among those this year embroiled in complaints of inappropriate behaviour by partners. Intense scrutiny is also being placed on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy being questioned by MPs in March in relation to the NDA used to silence Zelda Perkins after allegations of sexual assault by her former boss, film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Morrison & Foerster makes City move as Fieldfisher and Reed Smith develop international practices

Revolving doors: Morrison & Foerster makes City move as Fieldfisher and Reed Smith develop international practices

US player Morrison & Foerster emerged as the only firm to make a significant lateral hire in the City last week, while Fieldfisher bolstered its new Luxembourg office and Reed Smith made a triple hire in the Middle East at the expense of Pinsent Masons.

MoFo strengthened its London finance practice with the hire of Benoit Lavigne from Ropes & Gray where he was a partner, focusing primarily on leveraged finance, acquisition finance and special situations lending. The hire is MoFo’s third London office hire of 2018, as the firm strengthened with additions from Clifford Chance and Jones Day earlier this year.

Managing partner for Europe Paul Friedman said: ‘Benoit is highly regarded in finance circles in London, and his cross-border experience will continue to enhance our ability to support our clients with their growing global finance needs.’

Elsewhere in the UK, regional firm Coffin Mew boosted its practice in Thames Valley with the hires of Tim Watkins from Hadef & Partners and Derek Walsh from Thrings. Watkins joins Coffin Mew’s international corporate transactions practice, bringing with him experience in cross border acquisitions and high-profile commercial projects, including the establishment of Abu Dhabi’s national airline, Etihad Airways.

Walsh, meanwhile, will now head up the firm’s agricultural and rural business practice, having previously spent 12 years as an agricultural specialist at Things where he focused on representing farmers and rural businesses on contract disputes.

In Europe, Fieldfisher set about enhancing its Luxembourg offering with two fresh hires to the newly-launched office. Jean-Luc Dascotte has been appointed as a tax partner, joining from Brussels-based tax firm Tiberghien where he acted as managing partner in Luxembourg.

Accompanying Dascotte will be corporate partner Richard Ledain Santiago who joins from Allen & Overy, where he acted for a range of local and international clients in areas of M&A, joint ventures and structured finance. Both hires have been long-expected at Fieldfisher, with local managing partner Ingrid Dubourdieu previously being the only partner at the new office.

Dubourdieu said: ‘This is the latest stage in our rapidly progressing plan to enhance the range and versatility of our Luxembourg office by adding further specialisms. Luxembourg’s tax market has gone through tremendous changes over the last 24 months that affect all corporates and it is our view that further changes flowing from new EU legislation and Brexit will increase opportunities for law firms like Fieldfisher.’

Meanwhile across the border in France, DWF set about establishing a new IP practice with the hire of litigation partner Simon Christiaën from Lazareff Le Bars where he led the IP litigation and dispute resolution department.

Christiaën boasts 25 years of experience in the IP field, with a particular focus on judicial action and arbitration, previously advising on infringement and IP issues for industrial manufacturers and distributors. At DWF, Christiaën will work closely with litigation partner Florence Karila and corporate partner Anne-Sylvie Vassenaix-Paxton.

Meanwhile, Reed Smith completed the international recruitment round, making a triple hire in the Middle East, including two new recruits from Pinsent Masons. Sachin Kerur, Michelle Nelson and Shourav Lahiri all join, as Reed Smith sets about improving its international arbitration and construction and projects sectors in the region.

Kerur had previously been Pinsent Masons’ head of the Middle East region, and will now assume the role of office managing partner for Reed Smith in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, bringing with him experience advising regional governments and the private sector on a series of infrastructure projects across the Middle East and India.

Nelson also joins Reed Smith from Pinsent Masons, where she specialised in international arbitration and high-value infrastructure projects, while Lahiri joins from his own firm in Asia, having also spent time at Pinsent Masons as partner.

Reed Smith managing partner for Europe and the Middle East Tamara Box lauded the hires, saying: ‘Sachin and Michelle are highly regarded in the region, and we are thrilled to have them join us. They have worked closely with Shourav for many years and together this team will be a real boost to our Middle East offering and represents a game-changer in the local legal market.’

Legal Business

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

Mayer Brown and Reed Smith are continuing their recent expansion trajectories, this time at the expenses of Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF)’s London base and Pinsent Masons’ Middle East operations.

NRF saw the exit of one of its most senior London partners as veteran litigator Sam Eastwood headed for the door after three decades to join Mayer Brown.

Investigations and compliance partner Jason Hungerford has also left NRF for the Chicago-bred shop after seven years.

Eastwood joined legacy Norton Rose in 1989 and most recently acted as the firm’s business ethics and anti-corruption head after launching the group in 2008. Specialising in anti-bribery and regulatory compliance work, he played a key role in securing engineering company IMI as a client for NRF in 2015, becoming one of the company’s relationship partners.

Hungerford, who is dual qualified in the UK and US, joined NRF as a senior associate in 2011 after a spell at White & Case’s Washington DC base. He advises clients on government and internal investigations as well as compliance programmes related to US, UK and EU economic sanctions, export controls, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws.

Ian McDonald, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s litigation and dispute resolution practice, told Legal Business that Eastwood was ‘an ideas person’: ‘He is somebody who has built that practice at NRF and I am always attracted by people who have thinking and ideas, not just clients and existing business.’

Of Hungerford he said: ‘In addition to the white collar side he has a particular expertise in sanctions and global trade. In a world where we have Trump throwing sanctions around like confetti and Brexit we anticipate that’s an area that will grow.’

The hires will replenish Mayer Brown’s London litigation practice after partner Tom Duncan quit for Ashurst at the beginning of the month.

Mayer Brown has been in expansion mode this year, hiring Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson London finance head Stuart Brinkworth to its City bench and Allen & Overy’s global co-head of leveraged finance Scott Zemser in New York.

For its part, NRF had a bumpy first half of 2018, losing a number of partners in the US and Asia.

Meanwhile, Pinsents lost its Middle East head Sachin Kerur, who will now lead Reed Smith’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi operations.

Kerur will join Reed Smith together with Pinsents’ construction partner Michelle Nelson, a move which reunites the duo with former Pinsents’ arbitration partner Shourav Lahiri, who left the firm in 2013 to launch his own Singapore shop.

Reed Smith’s chair of energy and natural resources Prajakt Samant said the firm was ‘over the moon to have Sachin, Michelle and Shourav join us’: ‘[They] are regional veterans in the Middle East legal world, each widely acknowledged as outstanding practitioners and strategic thought leaders.’

A spokesperson for Pinsents said: ‘Our 90-strong Middle East business has expanded rapidly over the last two years as evidenced by our joint venture with Alsabhan & Alajaji and the appointment of the market-leading projects team in the region. It remains a key market for us and we will continue to invest in line with our strategic focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors.’

These are the latest in a series of laterals for Reed Smith, which earlier this year hired five partners from NRF in the US and Macfarlanes investment fund finance group leader Bronwen Jones in the City.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

In what has otherwise been a relatively subdued week for City laterals, Paul Hastings, Reed Smith and Mayer Brown have bolstered their London partner ranks with financial regulatory, intellectual property (IP) and finance hires respectively.

Paul Hastings continued its recruitment spree with the hire, announced today (11 June), of partner Arun Srivastava from Baker McKenzie, where he spent more than 22 years and headed its financial services regulatory group. He has also spent a year with the Financial Services Authority on secondment between 1999 and 2000.

Srivastava will now lead Paul Hastings’ London regulatory and fintech payments practice.

The hire comes as the firm looks to expand its London offering, having recently made two headline hires in the form of Linklaters’ M&A heavyweight Roger Barron and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper.

Seth Zachary, chair of Paul Hastings, said: ‘Arun is one of the leading financial regulatory lawyers in London and will enhance our capabilities across our finance, fintech and payments, funds and transactional practices. It is central to our growth strategy in London that we attract the finest lawyers in their specialisms, and Arun’s practice and pedigree in the regulatory space will be extremely helpful for us.’

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-bred Reed Smith has hired Howard Womersley Smith as a partner in its London IP, tech and data practice from Cambridge tech law firm Taylor Vinters. He was previously a partner and head of fintech and data at that firm since 2015, acting for financial services providers on the customer and supply sides, as well as advising clients on data protection and GDPR compliance.

He had previously worked in-house at COLT Telecom and Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of legal and compliance for commercial and tech matters.

Cynthia O’Donoghue, head of international information technology at Reed Smith, said: ‘Howard brings with him a great depth of knowledge on current issues such as GDPR, as well as a true specialism in fintech and financial services which align perfectly with our sector focus at Reed Smith. Our IP, tech and data practice continues to experience a growing demand from clients across the global network.’

For its part, Mayer Brown is understood to have hired Fried Frank London finance head Stuart Brinkworth (pictured) to its City bench. Brinkworth joined Fried Frank from Hogan Lovells in 2015, tasked with building debt fund relationships with clients in London and supporting the firm’s private equity practice.

North of the border, TLT hired banking and finance partner Douglas Gourlay from Weighmans, where he led the UK real estate finance practice.

Mayer Brown also announced two US hires from Morgan Lewis aimed at bolstering the firm’s offering to Japanese clients. Satoru Murase joins the firm’s New York corporate and securities practice. He advises on a range of M&A, litigation and finance matters, having also acted on employment and government relations matters.

Yoshihide Ito, who specialises in international trade policy, economic trade sanctions and trade disputes, will join Mayer Brown’s Washington DC government and global trade practice.

Philip Brandes, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s corporate and securities practice, said: ‘As Japanese companies navigate global markets, they seek lawyers well-versed in cross-border investment, litigation and regulatory matters. Satoru and Yoshi check all the boxes.’

King & Spalding hired Marc-Olivier Langlois to its trial and global disputes practice in Paris from Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where he was co-chair of the firm’s construction disputes group.

Langlois is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) task force on maximising the probative value of witness evidence, and has acted on commercial arbitrations, pharmaceutical licencing and defence contracts.

In Asia, Orrick recruited at the expense of Dentons as Sarah Zeng joined the firm’s private equity practice in Beijing. Zeng had been managing partner of Denton’s Beijing office, and has previously worked in-house as general counsel of Chinese engine manufacturer Weichai Power. Zeng becomes the 18th partner to join Orrick’s global M&A practice since 2016, and the fourth in China in the past year.

Dentons meanwhile has secured an addition of its own, with the firm bringing in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shared operations director Lisa Sewell as its new UK and Middle East managing director. Sewell had spent ten years at RBS, having also worked as head of bank-wide simplification, before leading a team of 7,500 across the UK, Poland and India.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: City laterals pick up pace as Baker McKenzie and DWF make moves while Reed Smith expands in the US

Revolving Doors: City laterals pick up pace as Baker McKenzie and DWF make moves while Reed Smith expands in the US

City recruitment kept pace last week as a trio of firms made City hires, led by Baker McKenzie’s corporate hire from Clifford Chance, while Reed Smith made big plays in the US.

Baker McKenzie added to its London bench with the hire of Kathy Honeywood to its energy, mining and industrials practice. Honeywood joins from Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance, bringing experience in M&A transactions, corporate finance and joint ventures.

Baker McKenzie London managing partner Alex Chadwick (pictured) commented: ‘With almost 20 years of M&A experience and strong client relationships, Kathy is well placed to enhance our Corporate EMI practice and to capitalise on the huge opportunities in the energy industry. This plays straight into our strategy of bolstering and growing our key transactional practices in London.’

Meanwhile, London independent Wedlake Bell bolstered its corporate and capital markets practice with two senior hires from Watson Farley & Williams in Nigel Taylor and Martin Thomas. Taylor specialises in private equity transactions, M&A and corporate structuring while Thomas works on IPOs and secondary offerings of equity and debt on the London capital markets.

Martin Arnold, managing partner of Wedlake Bell, said: ‘They will add real value and depth to our thriving corporate and capital markets practice. These appointments reflect the firm’s commitment to growth and the further strengthening of our specialist offering in key sectors to meet client demand.’

DWF also made hires in the City, bolstering its real estate arm with the hire of Andrew Edwards from American firm Greenberg Traurig. Edwards will work with DWF’s regional clients and particularly private equity houses, fund managers, property companies and high net worth individuals.

Elsewhere in the UK, Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) recruited competition partner Andrij Jurkiw from Mishcon de Reya, where he had been since 2013 and served as head of competition. Jurkiw will join WBD in Bristol, and focuses on UK & EU competition law, with particular experience in food, building materials, pharma and real estate.

Meanwhile in the US, Reed Smith made a spate of hires which brought five new partners to its Washington, Austin and New York offices, all from Norton Rose Fulbright.

In Washington, the firm landed Frederick Robinson and Lesley Reynolds in its litigation practice. Further south in Texas, the firm recruited Ben Koplin and Jeff Layne. Layne has experience in government and internal investigations and related litigation, representing health care and life sciences companies. Koplin, meanwhile, focuses on health care compliance and the regulation of health care providers. The pair’s arrival sees Reed Smith add a new office in Austin.

Rounding off the hires, Reed Smith brought in Cori Goldberg in New York. Goldberg has experience handling Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and regulatory compliance issues, as well as government and internal investigations.

Commenting on all the hires, co-chair of the firm’s life sciences group Scot Hasselman said: ‘This is a fantastic group of lawyers. It will bring together two historical health care and life sciences practices with the accompanying relationships and experience.’

Legal Business

Quest for efficiency: Reed Smith set to open new low-cost centre in Leeds

Quest for efficiency: Reed Smith set to open new low-cost centre in Leeds

Reed Smith is set to establish a low cost legal service centre outside of London in Leeds, it has emerged.

The centre, to be named RS Global Solutions, will see Reed Smith open its second UK office to offer additional support to its London hub. Plans for the new centre are being discussed internally today (10 April) with details yet to emerge on how many roles will be affected by the move, or who will lead the management team in the new northern office.

The news follows developments in November of last year, when the firm considered adopting an alternative business structure as way of working more closely with third-party non-legal outfits.

Such centres typically have greater impact on non-legal support staff, with the strategy driven by the continuing desire by Global 100 firms to seek greater efficiency. A host of other major players have undertaken similar projects recently , with Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Baker McKenzie, Norton Rose Fulbright and Ashurst all shifting back-office roles out of London to lower cost hubs in the UK and abroad.

The drive to manage efficiency at the firm and prevent greater costs comes as Reed Smith finally returned to growth after two consecutive years of decline, with the firm’s London outpost displaying a robust performance growing revenues 14% to £147m.

Reed Smith was contacted for comment.