Legal Business

The Simmons interview: What to worry about

The Simmons interview: What to worry about

Legal Business: Simmons seems to have come out of a period of malaise. What have been the primary drivers for that growth over the last two years?

Jeremy Hoyland, managing partner: Most of that has been driven by the sectors, so [opening in] Ireland is not because we’re interested in the domestic market. We’re interested because it’s an important market for banks and funds.

Legal Business

Disputes round-up: Simmons wins Petrofac mandate as White & Case makes key regulatory hire

Disputes round-up: Simmons wins Petrofac mandate as White & Case makes key regulatory hire

Simmons & Simmons has landed a major Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation mandate at the expense of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Simmons’ crime, fraud and investigations head Stephen Gentle and partner Nick Benwell have been enlisted to defend oil and gas company Petrofac in the SFO probe, taking on the mandate from Freshfields.

The Magic Circle firm had been appointed to advise Petrofac after the SFO confirmed in May 2017 it was investigating the company due to ‘suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering.’ The probe formed part of a wider investigation into Unaoil, which is accused of the same offences.

In addition to Freshfields, Petrofac called on Ashurst’s veteran dispute partner Edward Sparrow in August 2017 to advise as a ‘senior external specialist’.

Freshfields declined to comment. Simmons was approached for comment.

Meanwhile, White & Case’s London lateral hiring spree has continued with the appointment of financial regulatory partner Jonathan Rogers.

Rogers joins from Taylor Wessing, where he had been a partner since 2008. At his time of leaving, Rogers was head of Taylor Wessing’s financial services regulatory group in London.

Carrying 20 years’ experience advising financial institutions on a full range of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigations, Rogers has a particular focus on asset management, private banks, the payments industry as well as investment and lending platforms.

Eric Leicht, head of White & Case’s global banking practice, commented: ‘Banks continue to demand expert advice on regulatory regimes around the globe. Jonathan is well positioned to step in and assist our large, sophisticated financial institution clients on the most complex regulatory issues they face.’

Rogers’ arrival marks the second major lateral hire White & Case has made this month, following the recruitment of Weil Gotshal & Mages’ well-regarded banking head, Mark Donald.

Other recent laterals at White & Case include high-profile infrastructure partner Simon Caridia from Herbert Smith Freehills in October and in the same month, Weil counsel Thomas Falkus as a partner for its capital markets practice.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Trebles all round as Simmons re-elects Hoyland for another term

Trebles all round as Simmons re-elects Hoyland for another term

Simmons & Simmons has re-elected Jeremy Hoyland as managing partner for a third term on the back of a year of substantive investment and revenue growth.

Hoyland, who was first elected as managing partner in May 2011, was uncontested in his re-election, with his third term set to start on 1 May 2019.

The faith of Simmons partnership in its managing partner comes after the firm in June posted one of its strongest results since the financial crisis. It hiked revenue 12% to hit £354m after a year of sustained recruitment and foreign expansion as net profit surged 19% to £110m and profit per equity partner (PEP) increased 8% to £686,000.

At the time, Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that the revenue growth was ‘all organic’ and ‘significantly greater than expected’, attributing the standout performance to high demand in the firm’s core sectors of funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences and TMT. Together these areas contributed to over three quarters (76%) of the top 20 UK firm’s income.

The firm has seen revenue grow by nearly 50% over the past eight years and PEP rise by 53% in that time, while the firm also cites a 100% uptick in female partners during Hoyland’s previous terms. Other recent highlights include Simmons’ flexible resourcing model, Adaptive, recording turnover of £10m in the last financial year.

Innovation will be a main focus going forward, with new products Translator and Disputes Aviator cited as major wins with growing subscriber bases. Hoyland said: ‘Over the past four years, we have seen developments in innovation, the use of new game-changing tools and technology and the rise of resourcing models that have had a real impact on the firm and our offering to clients. My focus now will be on driving creativity and adaptability and further embedding our sector approach that we know is so important to our clients. The firm I know is bold and agile and these are going to be key attributes in dealing with the uncertainty in the months and years ahead.’

Hoyland started his Simmons career as a trainee in 1989 and has worked in its Hong Kong and London offices, holding several management roles. In his tenure as managing partner, Hoyland has overseen a number of major developments, not least the opening of six new offices: Beijing in 2011, Bristol in 2012, Singapore and Munich in 2013, Luxembourg in 2015 and Dublin most recently this year.

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Expansive Simmons shrugs off sluggish post-Lehman form to drive income up 12% to £354m

Expansive Simmons shrugs off sluggish post-Lehman form to drive income up 12% to £354m

Simmons & Simmons has posted one of its strongest results since the banking crisis, with the City firm announcing a 12% hike in revenues to hit £354m. After a year of sustained recruitment and foreign expansion, the 280-partner firm also saw net profits surge 19% to £110m and profit per equity partner (PEP) up 8% to £686,000.

The headline 12% growth rate comes after a 7% increase for 2016/17 and looks set to be one of the most robust showings in its weight class this year even against the backdrop of active markets. In common with many large City firms over the last decade, Simmons has struggled to sustain strong growth.

Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that the revenue growth was ‘all organic’ and ‘significantly greater than expected’. He attributed the performance to high demand in the firm’s core sectors, which span funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences and TMT. Together these areas contributed to over three quarters (76%) of the top 20 UK firm’s income.

‘We have focused on those areas for quite some time and it’s great to see revenues coming from there,’ added Hoyland. ‘Most or all of our laterals over the past year have come from these areas.’

Simmons made 25 lateral partner hires and nine partner promotions throughout the year, and Hoyland noted that the expansion of its partnership ranks accounted for the discrepancy between the firm’s sharply rising net profit and lower PEP percentage growth figures.

Hoyland added that the firm’s focus on alternative legal services had also paid dividends, with its flexible resourcing platform Adaptive amassing £10m in turnover throughout the year. ‘It doesn’t have a big reputation in the market yet but £10m is not immaterial. We are focusing a lot on these non-standard legal services.’ The Adaptive business was launched in 2014.

The firm also benefitted from an influx of one-off GDPR work, which accounted for roughly £1m in revenue over the year.

In terms of strategic objectives for the year ahead, Hoyland pointed to continental consolidation: ‘We continue to have some offices where we want to have greater strength in depth. We’ve seen growing revenue in Amsterdam and Paris but we’re keen for our other European offices to expand. We have a lot of offices for a £350m business so it can be quite thinly spread, especially as our business tends to be quite niche.’

Further launches in Europe would build upon the firm’s establishment of a Dublin branch, announced in October last year. The office was opened with a lateral hire from Mason Hayes & Curran. 

Other firms to announce 2017/18 financial results include Pinsent Masons, which recorded a 6% growth in turnover to £449.8m.

Despite concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on the UK economy and unease over global trade tensions, 2017/18 is widely tipped to be one of the most lucrative financial years for major law firms since the 2000s boom.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: women make up nearly half of reduced Simmons promotion round

Partner promotions: women make up nearly half of reduced Simmons promotion round

Simmons & Simmons has promoted four women to partner as part of a reduced round of just nine partner promotions globally, with London promotions also dropping this year.

The nine promotions announced today (30 April) is a dip from last year’s 12, but being 45% female exceeds the firm’s commitment to have women comprise 30% of all managing associate and partner promotions each year. The promotions span a variety of locations and practise areas, although with only four being made up in London, compared to seven last year.

Paula Macnamara and Patrick Boyd join the firm’s London banking and corporate teams respectively, while George Morris completes the London line-up in the information, communication and technology practice. Olly Jones, meanwhile, joins the firm’s employment practice in Bristol and London.

Elsewhere, Caroline Turner-Inskip joins the firm’s Bristol real estate offering, while Céline Larmet joins the Paris office in financial markets. Amanda Lees and Jonathan Quie were made up in Singapore, and Daniel Kendziur joins the Munich IP practice.

Simmons & Simmons’ senior partner Colin Passmore commented on the round: ‘Their promotions highlight the firm’s diverse range of talent across all practices and sectors. I look forward to working with these individuals and helping their personal development as they in turn help to take the firm forward.’

He told Legal Business: ‘Over the last few years there has been a concerted effort to recognise gender balance. We’ve been focusing on our female talent and we’re starting to see the fruits of that coming through.’

Simmons’ promotions come as firms face more scrutiny for ensuring diversity and parity at the top end of law, with Clifford Chance (CC) being the latest firm to announce a stronger round for women.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Simmons & Simmons partner promotions in full:

Paula Macnamara – London, banking
Patrick Boyd – London, corporate
George Morris – London, information, communications and technology
Olly Jones – Bristol/London, employment
Caroline Turner-Inskip – Bristol, real estate
Daniel Kendziur – Munich, intellectual property
Céline Larmet – Paris, financial markets
Jonathan Quie – Singapore, financial markets
Amanda Lees – Singapore, dispute resolution

Legal Business

#MeToo latest: Bakers appoints Simmons to review handling of complaint against partner accused of sexual assault

#MeToo latest: Bakers appoints Simmons to review handling of complaint against partner accused of sexual assault

Simmons & Simmons will conduct an independent review of how Baker McKenzie handled allegations that one of its partners sexually assaulted a junior lawyer several years ago.

Bakers confirmed today (21 February) it has appointed Simmons to review the incident, which resulted in the associate leaving the firm after reaching a settlement and signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Simmons will also look at the firm’s complaint procedures when dealing with sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behaviour. The firm said in a statement: ‘The review will also look at and review all our complaints policies and procedures to ensure our employees are protected and have a voice. We will follow the recommendations of the review and will take all appropriate action.’

Bakers faced criticism for allowing the partner in question to stay at the firm and take on subsequent senior roles.

While the NDA has so far prevented the alleged perpetrator’s name from going public for risk of identifying the victim, Bakers confirmed in a statement on 5 February that the partner was no longer attending the office and will now be leaving the firm.

The firm, which conceded in the statement it ‘should have handled [the incident] better’, is also in dialogue with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on the matter. Bakers said in today’s statement: ‘We are co-operating in full with the SRA.’

A spokesperson for the SRA said on 5 February: ‘Now that we’re aware of the issue, we will seek further information before deciding on appropriate action.’

This latest update comes as sexual harassment remains a live topic for the legal profession. On 9 February a court in Munich sentenced a former Linklaters partner to three years and three months in prison for sexual assaulting a student at a firm party several years ago. In January, it emerged that a Dentons partner had been put on a leave of absence while the firm investigates reports of sexual misconduct while over the last few weeks the fallout from the Presidents Club exposé revealed that a number of senior lawyers had attended the controversial event.

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

International growth drives Simmons’ H1 revenues up 12% despite tough conditions

International growth drives Simmons’ H1 revenues up 12% despite tough conditions

Building on respectable 2016/17 results, Simmons & Simmons has announced a 12% hike in its half-year revenues to £167.3m.

The figure is up considerably on last year’s H1 result of £149.4m, and comes after the 900-lawyer firm went on a recruitment drive adding 27 partners since May 2017 (including 13 promotions). Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland told Legal Business: ‘The Middle East and continental Europe continue to do well, with France and Italy being our strongest performers. We have also seen a little bit of swing back towards the transactional areas.’

Hoyland indicated that the firm’s pace of recruitment would likely slow in the months ahead, adding: ‘I suspect we won’t run quite to those levels but we continue to be attractive to people in our strongest areas.’

The London-based law firm has made inroads elsewhere, announcing in October that it will be opening in Dublin in 2018 with a lateral hire from Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC). MHC’s head of investment funds and financial regulation Fionan Breathnac is joining the firm’s new branch, which will focus on investments funds and regulatory work for asset managers and financial institutions.

Among the major hires for Simmons in 2017 was the appointment of legacy Olswang intellectual practice veteran Michael Burdon. Burdon, who headed Olswang’s European patent litigation group, joined Simmons in May. Simmons was also named on the revised panel of HSBC earlier this year, reflecting its heavy focus on financial institution clients.

Simmons saw turnover rise by 7% to £316.1m for the full 2016/17 year, while profit per equity partner hit £635,000.

Few firms have so far confirmed H1 results in what is expected to be a tough financial year. Exceptions to the rule are Watson Farley & Williams and Fieldfisher, two of the fastest growing UK firms of recent years, which respectively last month confirmed growth of 13% and 20%.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Good people are expensive’: Simmons to launch in Dublin through local hire

‘Good people are expensive’: Simmons to launch in Dublin through local hire

As speculation continues in the Irish market as to which international law firm will be the next to come knocking on the door of local partners, Simmons & Simmons has confirmed plans to launch in Dublin with a lateral hire from Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC).

Simmons, which had long been rumoured to be considering a launch in the city, has hired MHC’s head of investment funds and financial regulation Fionán Breathnach. The firm will focus on asset management initially, a core practice area for Simmons, with plans to expand further into the financial institutions sector with more local hires.

Legal Business

Simmons & Simmons becomes third international firm to launch in Ireland since Brexit vote with key local hire

Simmons & Simmons becomes third international firm to launch in Ireland since Brexit vote with key local hire

While there hasn’t been the anticipated rush of City firms into alternative European financial centres since the UK voted for Brexit, Simmons & Simmons has become the third international firm to plan a launch in Dublin since last June as the referendum result continues to boost the Irish capital as a professional service hub.

Mason Hayes & Curran’s head of investment funds and financial regulation Fionán Breathnach will leave the Irish firm to lead the Simmons’ new office as it follows Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons  to make moves to launch practices in Dublin.

The office will initially focus on a core practice area for Simmons, asset management, but the firm is also looking at opportunities in the wider financial institutions sector.

While the timing of the launch hasn’t been announced yet, managing partner Jeremy Hoyland told Legal Business the firm was looking to open ‘as soon as possible’ and it was in the process of establishing the initial team that will join Breathnach in the Irish capital.

He added the launch was not directly due to Brexit but rather to Ireland being one of the largest jurisdictions in the EU for fund formation, a priority sector for Simmons: ‘It is the natural location for us’.

However, he said that the case for Dublin had become more compelling following the referendum result in June last year, with Ireland poised to see an influx of talent in funds and financial institutions.

Breathnach joined Mason Hayes in 2003 and was previously legal counsel at HSBC. His clients include a number of fund managers such as Comeragh Capital, Heptagon Capital and Thornburg Investment Management.

Mason Hayes managing partner Declan Black said ‘Fionán has made a great contribution to MHC over the years’, while noting younger partners, like Rowena FitzGerald and Conor Durkin, as ‘a new generation for us and we look forward to their continuing to develop our funds and financial regulation practice’.

This will be the first office launch for Simmons since the Luxembourg opening in January 2015, the announcement comes after two years marked by closures for the firm. Its Abu Dhabi base shut in March 2016  and its Rome outpost in August 2015 .

The outcome of the EU referendum in June 2016 has pushed a presence in Dublin up the agenda for a number of international firms as they look at the Irish capital as a gateway to the bloc after Britain leaves in March 2019.

It is believed that a number of other international firms, including DLA Piper, are considering a launch in the city, while the number of foreign solicitors registering to practise in Ireland has surged since the 2016 vote.

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk