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

Legal Business

Addleshaws, Eversheds and Simmons claim places on HSBC UK legal panel

Addleshaws, Eversheds and Simmons claim places on HSBC UK legal panel

HSBC has appointed around ten firms to its UK legal banking panel. Addleshaw GoddardEversheds Sutherland and Simmons & Simmonswere among those which made the cut.

CMS Cameron McKenna, Dentons and Pinsent Masons are also among the roster which was reduced in size.

The UK review follows a global shake-up in December last year, in which existing panel members Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance (CC), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters were joined by US newcomer Davis Polk & Wardwell.

The bank previously reviewed its panel in 2012, when it expanded its roster to include a group US firms including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Latham & Watkins and Mayer Brown.

HSBC’s in-house legal team changed significantly in 2017.The company’s head of legal for worldwide operations and deputy general counsel (GC) Richard Given left to become GC and company secretary at fintech startup 10x Banking.

Internal associate general counsel Stephen Cooke replaced Given, who was in his role for almost six years.

Hugh Pugsley has been GC at HSBC since 2015, after leaving Lloyds Banking Group.

In May, in other banking panel reviews, Standard Chartered unveiled its completed global panel, with Magic Circle firms dominating the line-up. On the panel were Slaughter and May, A&O, Linklaters and CC, alongside Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Hogan Lovells, Baker McKenzie and Dentons.

Deutsche Bank also completed its global panel this year, with all of the Magic Circle firms joined by HSF, Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons, Taylor Wessing and Hogan Lovells.

HSBC declined to comment.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Simmons appoints CC capital markets veteran as firms boost London ranks

Revolving doors: Simmons appoints CC capital markets veteran as firms boost London ranks

The arrival of July marked a heightened pace of lateral hires by UK firms boosting their London bases. Simmons & Simmons recruited to its corporate team, while Dentons, Watson Farley & Williams (WFW), RPC and PwC also appointed key new partners.

Chris Walton has moved to Simmons & Simmons’ corporate team in London, moving from Clifford Chance (CC). Walton, who joins after 16 years at CC’s London office, is a capital markets partner experienced in representing major US and international banking firms which act as underwriters in private equity offerings.

Simmons’ international head of corporate and commercial, Mark Curtis, said that Walton will play a ‘key role’ in the continued growth of the firm’s London capital markets practice. He  joins Simmons following similar capital market moves earlier this year, by Jonathan Mellor and Simon Ovenden.

Dentons has also added to its London team, hiring Alex Tostevin as a tax partner from Weil Gotshal & Manges. He is experienced advising clients across the real estate, infrastructure, financial services, energy and technology tax sectors.

Dentons tax partner Alex Thomas said that Tostevin’s experience and international client-base will help the firm deal with incoming tax initiatives such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) strategy. These initiatives will generate ‘vast amounts of work’, Thomas added.

WFW has also appointed several partners to its London office, bringing in corporate partner Colin Graham from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and transport partner Louise Mor from White & Case.

Graham has 18 years’ experience of advising on cross-border issues in the energy and power sectors, focusing predominantly on M&A transactions and project developments.

Mor, who joins WFW on 10 July 2017, is specialised in rail, aviation and equipment financing. Mor also has an international client-base consisting of European and US lenders as well as private entities worldwide.

Big Four accountancy firm PwC has expanded its pensions legal team with the hire of Ashurst’s pensions head Marcus Fink.

Fink has 18 years’ experience of advising clients on pension scheme reorganisations and mergers, and at PwC he will advise companies on their investment funding strategies.

Head of PwC’s pensions legal practice, Oliver Reece, commented: ‘Our ability to offer clients a broad suite of pensions advice from right across PwC helps us stand out from the crowd. We’ve spent time building the expertise and skills to meet the needs of our clients, and Marcus is an important addition to the team.’

Elsewhere, RPC has brought in Penningtons Manches’ technology and data partner Jon Bartley. Bartley, who was co-head of Penningtons Manches data team, advises clients on data protection matters.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Jury O’Shea expands in London, Simmons in Frankfurt, HSF hires in Dubai

Revolving doors: Jury O’Shea expands in London, Simmons in Frankfurt, HSF hires in Dubai

With a broad set of hires towards the end of June, Jury O’Shea hired a former Stewarts commercial litigation partner, Simmons & Simmons added to its Frankfurt financial markets team and Herbert Smith Freehills bolstered its Dubai corporate group.

Daniel Loblowitz has left Stewarts Law to join property firm Jury O’Shea as a commercial litigation partner. Loblowitz told Legal Business that the move was instigated by a desire to build his own commercial litigation practice, and described Jury O’Shea as ‘the perfect platform.’

Loblowitz’ expertise covers a broad range of commercial litigation, often on cross-border disputes involving banks, shareholders and private clients, and on significant fraud cases.

Simmons & Simmons hired financial markets partner Benedikt Weiser from Dechert, splitting his time between its Luxembourg and Frankfurt offices.

Weiser specialises in structuring private equity, real estate, infrastructure and debt funds for institutional investors, with particular expertise in German investment law and insurance regulatory law.

Simmons’ head of financial markets in Germany Heiko Stoll said: ‘Our sector focus means we are constantly thinking about what changes are going to affect our clients, and how we can innovate to respond to these client needs. The arrival of Benedikt [Weiser] reinforces this commitment to our clients and I look forward to working with him’.

Simmons’ global head of financial markets Jonathan Hammond also said that ‘despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, our global financial markets practice has had a strong year’.

Meanwhile, HSF hired corporate partner Haitham Hawashin from Simmons in Dubai. Hawashin is experienced in joint ventures, private equity, cross-border M&A and debt & equity capital markets transactions. His experience includes sectors including asset management & investment funds, financial institutions, TMT, real estate, energy/infrastructure and utilities.

Hawashin’s has recently advised Abu Dhabi Financial Group, Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company and lenders such as International Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank and Eksport Kredit Fonden.

HSF global corporate head Scott Cochrane said the firm is committed to deepening its relationship with key clients and targets in the region. ‘Bringing Haitham on board will help greatly with this. Building our capability to service clients both in local markets and internationally is a key element of our strategy and Haitham’s recruitment will strengthen this capability further,’ he added.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘A number of improvements’: Simmons leads the City pack in credible form with revenues up £21m

‘A number of improvements’: Simmons leads the City pack in credible form with revenues up £21m

With City law firms braced for Brexit-related shocks, the first 2016/17 results from a major London practice will ease Square Mile nerves with Simmons & Simmons today (8 June) confirming a 7% hike in revenues and an emphatic rise in partner profits.

Simmons saw revenues up £21m from £295m to £316m, a substantial improvement on its 2015/16 results, when it barely grew its top line. Profits per equity partner (PEP) increased 9% to £635,000, up from £585,000 the year before, while net profits also climbed 12% over the year.

Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that growth was driven by its Middle East and continental Europe practices. He also said that contentious practices like litigation and employment had expanded, which he described as ‘a continuation of a theme we have seen for years’.

‘We have made a number of improvements. Also, I like to think the legal market hasn’t grown by 7%, so we have taken some market share. I hope our strategy of building on our strengths is paying dividends.’

The results come amid a year of sustained investment for the 900-lawyer firm, which has made 28 lateral partner hires over the last 15 months.

‘We opened the Luxembourg office with five partners just before the start of the financial year, so this is covered in these financials, and we obtained the joint law venture for Singapore late last year,’ added Hoyland.

Hoyland said that the firm was currently gauging the impact of the Brexit vote on its core City practice, which has traditionally been geared towards finance clients, and ‘definitely undertaking some contingency planning’. Simmons made a series of redundancies last year in its banking and real estate practices in the wake of the Brexit referendum result last June.

‘We will use the new financial year to identify opportunities from clients, whether this involves work in restructuring, regulatory, corporate or employment in the short term,’ concluded Hoyland.

Despite its expansive form, Simmons suffered a number of senior exits last year, including four partners from its profitable intellectual property (IP) practice to Allen & Overy. Hoyland noted that the firm has promoted and hired in IP in response, including hiring Olswang heavyweight Michael Burdon. The firm also recently voted in changes to head off team exits.

Though Simmons’ performance has been outpaced by a number of London-centric mid-tiers such as Osborne Clarke (OC) and Fieldfisher, the result will be viewed as a credible run for a finance-heavy institution operating in turbulent markets. OC increased its revenues by 12% to €245.1m, while UK revenues rose 7% to £121m. Fieldfisher announced a 34% increase in turnover for 2016/17, from £121.5m to £165m.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Simmons amends partnership deed following A&O departures

Simmons amends partnership deed following A&O departures

While Herbert Smith Freehills became embroiled in a very public court battle over a team defection to White & Case in Australia earlier this year, Simmons & Simmons has quietly amended its partnership deed following a group exit to Allen & Overy (A&O) in 2016.

In the space of four months from last summer, Simmons lost four intellectual property (IP) partners to A&O, including highly-regarded patent specialist Marjan Noor in June, followed by London IP head Marc Döring in August, and Mark Heaney and David Stone in September.

Legal Business

Simmons amends partnership deed following A&O departures

Simmons amends partnership deed following A&O departures

While Herbert Smith Freehills became embroiled in a very public court battle over a team defection to White & Case in Australia earlier this year, Simmons & Simmons has quietly amended its partnership deed following a group exit to Allen & Overy (A&O) in 2016.

In the space of four months from last summer, Simmons lost four intellectual property (IP) partners to A&O, including highly-regarded patent specialist Marjan Noor in June, followed by London IP head Marc Döring in August, and Mark Heaney and David Stone in September.

Legal Business

‘Common business sense’ – Simmons amends partnership deed to block team exits following A&O departures

‘Common business sense’ – Simmons amends partnership deed to block team exits following A&O departures

While Herbert Smith Freehills became embroiled in a very public court battle over a team defection to White & Case in Australia earlier this year, Simmons & Simmons has quietly amended its partnership deed following a group exit to Allen & Overy (A&O) in 2016.

In the space of four months from last summer, Simmons lost four intellectual property (IP) partners to A&O, including highly-regarded patent specialist Marjan Noor in June, followed by London IP head Marc Döring in August, and Mark Heaney and David Stone in September.

The firm reacted by trying to rush through three amendments to its partnership deed. While Simmons refused to discuss the intricacies of the provisions, it confirmed that the partnership rejected the move during a consultation process.

Following further consultation, Simmons’ management brought a narrower proposal relating to team moves back in front of the partnership conference in Lisbon last October. This time, it was voted through.

Under the new provisions, partners are prohibited from taking a team with them for a set period after leaving the firm. However, the amendments also include a provision allowing the senior partner to negotiate a payment from the new firm in exchange for any team moves.

Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore said: ‘Yes we have had a review, including a debate with partners around our covenants and what happens when partners leave, in terms of their obligations. Making sure covenants are fit for purpose in a modern world where teams are sought after is important and it makes business common sense.’

One former Simmons partner commented: ‘Passmore is not in the business of forcing people to stay. But the firm has lost all that revenue from the A&O leavers in one of its most profitable practice areas. However, I think these sort of changes are negative and it’s wrong to spend more time on its own deed than on improving profitability and convincing good people to stay.’

In contrast, one leader at a rival top 10 City practice backed the move observing: ‘The underlying philosophy is that people make promises when they become partners and they should keep them. Partners, unlike employees, have a duty to protect the goodwill and confidential information of the firm.’

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘He always puts the firm first’: Passmore wins Simmons senior partner re-election

‘He always puts the firm first’: Passmore wins Simmons senior partner re-election

Incumbent defeats Asia head Paul Li to win third term in leadership

A leadership contest at Simmons & Simmons has ended with senior partner Colin Passmore (pictured) re-elected for a third term, after six years in the role.