Legal Business

Revolving Doors: DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith boost London offering with lateral hires

Revolving Doors: DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith boost London offering with lateral hires

London has been the focus of a series of hires for top national, City and US firms including DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith, as Dechert has also boosted its Moscow offering with a hire of a partner from Hogan Lovells.

Adrian Williams joins DAC Beachcroft’s corporate insurance team from reinsurance giant Swiss Re, where he was general counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and was based in Zurich. The firm has also bolstered its real estate team in London with the hire of Nathan East from Hempsons. East specialises in advising medical professionals, care providers and the NHS.

‘We are delighted to welcome Nathan to the firm. His appointment adds an important extra dimension to our existing health practice with his considerable experience of advising GPs,’ said Eve Gregory, head of the firm’s health real estate team.

Elsewhere, 1,548-lawyer firm Reed Smith continues to grow its London office with the appointment of Eoin O’Shea as a partner in the firm’s global regulatory disputes practice based in London. Joining from Lawrence Graham (LG), O’Shea is known for his disputes work which includes economic crime, corporate crime, fraud and corruption disputes and investigations. He spent six years at the commercial bar and another six years with Simmons & Simmons before joining LG. O’Shea has led on litigation for major pharmaceutical companies relating to blackmail and other crimes.

‘Eoin’s reputation and his broad experience, across our key industry sectors and geographies, will ensure that Reed Smith is even better placed to assist clients facing the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape,’ said Richard Spafford (pictured), head of Reed Smith’s commercial disputes group for Europe and the Middle East.

‘O’Shea told Legal Business: ‘The reason I joined Reed Smith is because they are very strong in litigation worldwide. For my specialism in bribery and corruption it helps to have a strong group in the US.’

Reed Smith hired banking and finance partner Claude Brown from Clifford Chance in April this year.

Meanwhile, K&L Gates, which dropped three places in this year’s Global 100 to 25 with a turnover of $1,06bn, has added Anthony Fine as a partner in its energy, infrastructure and resources (EIR) practice in London. Fine joins from White & Case where he was head of the PPP/PFI practice in the firm’s energy, infrastructure, project and asset finance group.

‘With his track record in projects and infrastructure and his significant market connections, I am delighted that Anthony has joined our growing practice,’ said Tony Griffiths, London managing partner of K&L Gates.

Also growing in London with a number of recent heavyweight hires is RPC, which has brought in partner Sukh Ahark from Davenport Lyons, where he was head of banking and finance.

Ahark spent eight years at legacy Herbert Smith and has also worked for Pinsent Masons and Hammonds. Recent mandates he has advised on include luxury building company Harrison Varma Limited on the financing of a development of 20 new residential apartments, where the financing was provided by Barclays and Coutts.

‘We’re very pleased to have Sukh on board. His practice neatly complements our existing broad-based corporate offering, and his outgoing, unfussy and approachable style of doing business fits very well with how we operate at RPC,’ said Jonathan Watmough, managing partner of RPC.

Sukh’s appointment follows RPC’s hire of a three partner corporate team from Wragge & Co at the start of the year, consisting of former managing partner Richard Haywood, the head of corporate Maurice Dwyer, and David Marshall, a private equity specialist.

In Russia meanwhile, global top 50 US firm Dechert has recruited Taras Oksyuk from Hogan Lovells where he was head of real estate to lead the firm’s real estate and construction practice in Moscow. Deals that Oksyuk has advised on include leading Russian property fund, O1 Properties, on its $500m sale of a business centre in Moscow to Kaspersky lab.

Laura Brank, Moscow managing partner and head of Dechert’s Russia & CIS practice said: ‘We are very pleased that Taras is joining us. He is a highly regarded Russian real estate and construction expert who will bring a wealth of experience to our corporate and real estate practices in Moscow.’


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Legal Business

Lone star state of mind

Lone star state of mind

Reed Smith’s assault on Houston is a brave move following its failed merger with Thompson & Knight three years ago.

The firm launched a greenfield office in downtown Houston last month, where it will fill two floors of the city’s tallest building, the BG Tower, with up to 30 lateral hires over the next quarter. Firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan says Reed Smith has already recruited several partners and associates from leading local firms.

Although he won’t name individuals, he says that local hires are crucial. ‘Our goal is to build the office with people who are real leaders in their fields. And we’re not planning to build the office through relocations, but real Houston talent.’

Texan firms tend to agree. Jerry Clements, chair of Locke Lord says: ‘There is a great deal of loyalty in Texas. And its a very difficult market to break into, if you’re not from there, because of the client loyalty, history and knowledge.’

Houston-based energy partner Doug Glass from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld says: ‘A lot of US and international clients want to expand in the energy field. Our firm, like others, has from time to time in the past encountered interest from other law firms who want to enter the market, but we feel good about our competitive position. Apparently our clients share that view.’

Brimming with confidence is well and good, but there are stumbling blocks unique to Texas that Jordan must consider. Firstly, the Texan legal market is a battlefield so making 30 lateral hires will be a bit of a problem. Texan partners often stick like glue to their firms and pledge loyalty throughout their careers. And as clients in Texas tend to choose firms over individuals, it is harder for a lawyer to defect. Baker Botts London-based energy partner Steve Wardlaw tells LB that the question of whether Reed Smith can be successful depends on whether they can hire laterals. ‘The energy market for lawyers is quite deep and ingrained and what you hear from Texans, is that people don’t flit between firms,’ he says. ‘In the London market they’ll change every few years, but that is not what happens there.’

Michael Pollack, global head of strategy for Reed Smith admits that his firm had approached up to 20 local firms for a merger yet failed to find a partner and says this was due to, ‘client conflict and not the right fit at the time. It’s a very competitive market’.

Despite this, Reed Smith has kept its eye on Texas. Jordan says: ‘Over half of our 250 clients have operations in Houston. The strategy is really about being where the clients are and expanding our services and relationships with them.’

The move is good in theory. Houston has long established its position as a premiere energy hub, with over 3,000 energy related companies based there – the highest concentration in the US. Reed Smith is also attracted to the abundance of shale gas in the US. The gas fields in surrounding states are an oasis of untapped reserves which clients wish to explore. Pollack believes the US will be an energy exporter in the next 10 years and the impact on over 70 of its energy clients in Houston will be ‘huge’.

Jordan is aware of all the challenges a newcomer faces and insists that his firm can tackle them. ‘We’ve never been in Texas,’ he says. ‘Having a lot of clients here already helps, but we’ll be competing with firms that have been here for up to 100 years.

We know that it takes time to build a brand position, so we are going to work really hard to build that.’

Jostling for position in a saturated market is a Herculean task, and Reed Smith certainly has its work cut out.