Legal Business

Life During Law: Scott Hopkins

When I was 18 I left Vancouver to play ice hockey in university in Japan. That got me off on kind of an adventurous track. I grew up dreaming of nothing more than becoming a hockey player. When you try to do that in Canada, you work your way up through the junior leagues. And the junior leagues are tough. You leave home and you go live in a small town, and the hockey team is sort of the centre of life in those towns. You become a minor celebrity. But it’s tough. Not many people make it. There are three levels of junior hockey in Canada, and when you get to the very top level you can be classed as a professional, which means you’re ineligible for university scholarships. I got up close to that level and I had a good look at it and I wasn’t convinced that I was going to make it. I didn’t want to take the risk of dedicating my life to that. So I decided to go for a university education, to at least get something out of all that time playing hockey.

I decided to become a lawyer so I would have more control over my working life than I would have had if I had gone into foreign relations. I did politics as an undergraduate in London. I came to the UK in 1994. As far as I got down the politics line was interning for the Member of the European Parliament who was the special rapporteur for EU-Japan economic relations. I got to spend some time in the circus that is the EU, moving that circus back and forth between Brussels and Strasbourg. It was interesting, certainly. But I just didn’t feel that I could make an impact in that world.

Legal Business

‘A true star and magnificent friend’: Industry greats bid farewell to Skadden M&A doyen Scott Simpson

Asking around the market for tributes to Scott Simpson, Skadden’s eminent M&A partner who died suddenly at the age of 65 on 29 May, soon confirmed what was long suspected. Scott was the kind of man who got everyone up dancing to rock music, the sort of man who put the shirt-related fear of God into German hoteliers, the consummate enthusiast, sportsman and loving family man. He was the kind of man who would not hear of allowing a legal journalist to go unescorted in a foreign city or flinch when she put her foot in it. Effortlessly kind, generous, clever and funny.

Michael Hatchard, the now retired partner who did much to make Skadden a US heavyweight in public M&A work in Europe, recalls fondly: ‘When called to Düsseldorf for what would become the defence of Mannesmann in the bid from Vodafone, Scott left London just before the New Year holidays without hesitation with an overnight bag. He didn’t surface until the spring, by which time he had become a central player in the defence team and the deal had become recommendable. The hotel eventually asked him to sign a waiver because the collars on his much over-laundered shirts were about to fall off.’

Legal Business

A class act: Skadden and the industry mourn death of M&A icon Scott Simpson

Skadden’s Scott Simpson, one of the most influential M&A lawyers of his generation, has died suddenly at the age of 65, the firm announced today (30 May).

The news will be a huge blow for Skadden and the industry at large, marking the loss of the firm’s co-head of global transactions and one of the most pioneering deal lawyers ever to operate in the Square Mile.

Skadden born and bred, having been a summer associate in 1981, joining the firm full-time in 1982 and making partner in 1988, Scott’s route into law was somewhat unorthodox.

On graduating high school, he indulged his love of surfing by going to live in a beach house in Hawaii near the big waves. Pragmatism eventually kicked in and he decided he’d better get a university degree and a career.

In 1990, having only been a partner for two years, Scott joined the then office leader, Bruce Buck, for what should have been a two-year sojourn in the new London office. He never left.

Speaking with Legal Business in 2020, Scott quipped of the adventure in his characteristic good humour: ‘People questioned why I left New York for London. Being asked to start the M&A business in Europe sounds dramatic, a wonderful honour the firm was bestowing… I learned two years later the firm asked everyone senior to me and they all said no.’

An enviable career has seen him act on some of the most famous and contentious takeovers in history, including Arcelor’s $33bn merger with Mittal Steel and Gucci’s defence against a hostile takeover attempt by LVMH, a mandate that was to lead to a longstanding relationship with the client.

In 2020, Scott recounted the failed hostile takeover of Gucci as a particular defining moment, calling to mind an era when transactions were both fraught and incredibly exciting. ‘Finally I said: “If we don’t launch the defence, what do you propose?  Since we didn’t have a plan B, he said, “Fuck it. The next day we went into the boardroom and launched and it was one of the most effective takeover devices ever,’ he recalled fondly.

Scott remained an avid surfer and enjoyed shooting, skiing, going to see Chelsea FC and attending Goodwood Revival with his beloved wife Kathleen. Scott also leaves behind his children Caitlin, Victor and Mairead.

Scott was an M&A pioneer but more than that he was a bon viveur, a gentleman and a class act. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, colleagues and friends. 

Legal Business

Skadden goes organic with three City promotions as investment intensifies in London

Skadden has made up its largest haul of new partners in London since 2008, a further showing of support for the City office after an uncharacteristically expansive stint in the lateral recruitment market of late.

The move sees the famously conservative Wall Street giant promote three new partners as part of a 17-strong global round, matching a commitment to organic growth in London last seen 13 years ago.

Private equity lawyer Steven Hannah, M&A lawyer Ani Kusheva and investment management lawyer Greg Norman have made the cut in what Pranav Trivedi (pictured), head of Skadden’s City practice, described as a ‘testament to the strength of Skadden’s London office and the exceptional level of talent within our ranks’.

The investment stands out as a particular coup, considering the firm has only made up four new partners in London across the previous five global promotions rounds, most recently white collar crime partner Andrew Good last year and M&A partner Denis Klimentchenko in 2019.

Indeed, few observers could fail to notice Skadden’s repudiation in recent months of suggestions that is was being too cautious in the London lateral market, most recently last September with the addition of Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer’s prized M&A veteran Bruce Embley.

That move capped off a 2020 of dynamism for Skadden, following as it did the hire of restructuring partner Peter Newman from Milbank in February, building on the announced recruitment of Allen & Overy corporate duo George Knighton and Simon Toms. Those A&O moves in particular made waves as Skadden’s first substantial play in London since the recruitment of high-profile dealmaker Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017 and have been viewed as a serious statement of intent on the ambitions of Skadden’s City corporate practice.

While detractors may well question the longevity of the firm’s redoubled investment in London, this promotion round is all to the good in shaking up a market perception that is headed toward being out-of-date. Nevertheless, Skadden’s thoughtful approach to adding to its partnership fits with its prized culture, borne out by the relative scarcity with which it loses partners to rivals. In the age of disruptors, it is heartening to see Skadden closing the gap with its more daring rivals in London.

Legal Business

Skadden doubles down on City recruitment drive with hire of Freshfields star Embley

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has hired one of the most well-known M&A partners in the City, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer veteran Bruce Embley. 

The move is a major fillip for Skadden, which has long been accused of being too conservative in its City hiring policy as well as underweight in its M&A offering since respected rainmaker Michael Hatchard retired at the end of 2017. 

Freshfields former global M&A client group co-head Embley was noted as being a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ partner and a strong all-rounder in the influential partner stakes in Legal Business’ 2019 feature on the Magic Circle firm. 

Embley, who was rumoured to have been on the market for several months before joining Skadden, has more than 25 years’ experience advising on private equity and public and private M&A transactions in sectors including financial services, energy and telecommunications. 

Bruce has led some of the largest and most complex private equity and M&A deals in the UK and internationally, and is an excellent fit for our practice,’ said Scott Simpson, Skadden’s global co-head of transactions. 

 Pranav Trivedi, head of Skadden’s  London office, said: We have made important strategic hires in London over the past year and, in particular, invested in our M&A and private equity bench. Bruce’s experience is in the type of complex, high-stakes transactions for which we are known.’ 

Few observers of Skadden’s City office could fail to notice its recent deviation from conservatism, with the hire of restructuring partner Peter Newman from Milbank in February, building on the recruitment of Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate duo George Knighton and Simon Toms.  

Those A&O moves in particular made waves as Skadden’s first substantial play in London since the hire of high-profile dealmaker Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017 and have been viewed as a serious statement of intent on the ambitions of Skadden’s City corporate practice. 

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – International Arbitration Team of the Year

After much back-and-forth between the judges in a keenly contested category, we are now delighted to reveal the winner of International Arbitration Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

The winner of this award demonstrated pre-eminent advice in a single matter, be that acting for private corporates, investors, state-owned enterprises or states themselves in international commercial arbitration or investment treaty arbitration.




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Winner – Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

It is not often you secure one of the largest commercial arbitration awards ever made, but that is exactly what Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton achieved in 2019, making the firm the standout contender for this year’s category.

Headed by disputes partner Jonathan Kelly, along with litigation and investigations partner James Brady, Cleary successfully concluded a four-and-a-half-year battle for Brazilian mining group Vale concerning allegations of fraud and bribery against its mining partner in Guinea, BSG Resources (BSGR). The matter was resolved with a remarkable $2bn victory for Vale after related legal proceedings took place in the US, UK and Switzerland.

‘Cleary fought like tigers on Vale’s behalf to prove BSGR’s fraud,’ said Thiago Mucury Cardoso, legal counsel at Vale. ‘Vale’s good name and reputation was completely vindicated’.

Vale accused BSGR of engaging in bribery to obtain mining licences in Guinea, a share of which it then fraudulently sold to Vale. With Cleary leading the claim, The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) ruled in favour of Vale, despite numerous efforts from BSGR to stymie proceedings.

Added Cardoso: ‘Cleary displayed a remarkable can-do ability to find solutions to every obstacle or problem that our opponents raised. Every time we turned to Cleary, it delivered for us.’

Such were the problems faced, Cleary drafted lawyers from its London, New York and Paris offices to pursue the claim. It then thoroughly investigated BSGR’s complex offshore corporate structure, traced its cash flows, persuaded material Guinean witnesses to testify in London, and extracted incriminating evidence from BSGR itself. All this work culminated in a devastating and forensic record presented to the LCIA.

The compelling case made by Cleary saw a final award of $1.25bn in damages and $775m in pre-award interest, post-award interest, costs, and legal fees. Concluded Cardoso: ‘These results were achieved by Cleary’s technical excellence and understanding, its absolute and unswerving commitment to Vale’s cause, and its refusal to take a step back when confronted with BSGR’s numerous attempts to derail the arbitration process.’

Highly Commended – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Skadden is the Highly Commended firm in this category after obtaining the largest-ever investment treaty award against Spain on behalf of two Dutch subsidiaries of renewable energy company NextEra.

The team, led by Skadden’s leading duo of David Herlihy and Karyl Nairn, successfully argued Spain’s abolition of the feed-in-tariffs and premiums applicable to NextEra’s solar plants breached the Energy Charter Treaty and entitled NextEra to damages of €290.6m plus interest and an award of more than $5m for attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs. According to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the legal angle taken by Skadden was pivotal to its unanimous finding of liability.

Not only is the award the largest of many claims rendered against Spain in relation to the country’s abolition of a long-term premium and tariff system for concentrated solar power, it is thought to be the largest reward ever won in the renewable energy sector globally.

Other nominations

Addleshaw Goddard

Successfully representing the estate of a deceased Thai investor in an investment treaty claim against the Malaysian government relating to an oceanfront property that had been fraudulently taken from her in 1988.

Crowell & Moring

Enforcing the rule of law in Broadsheet v Government of Pakistan, where the tribunal found that the Pakistan government and its anti-corruption agency had wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet, confirming that the company was entitled to damages.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Successfully representing Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas in an LCIA dispute with Hungary’s MOL Group over the settlement of another dispute that their joint venture company, Pearl, had with the Kurdistan Regional Government relating to its gas exploitation rights in the country.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Helping Ukraine’s second-largest commercial bank, JSC Oschadbank, obtain a landmark $1.3bn award in its investment treaty claim against the Russian Federation relating to the expropriation of the bank’s business and assets in Crimea.

Legal Business

Firm focus: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

London headcount: 144 lawyers, 28 partners
Lawyer headcount change since 2014: 15% (-7% partners)
London head: Pranav Trivedi
Office specialities: M&A, arbitration, litigation and white collar

Legal Business

Life During Law: Scott Simpson

We had Skadden’s 30th anniversary party at Kensington Palace. Very cool. I’ve been here most of those 30 years.

I took a year and a half off between high school and college in the States. I spent most of my youth surfing and had a dream to finish high school in Hawaii.

Legal Business

Hello Newman: Milbank loses restructuring partner to Skadden’s relative City hiring spree

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom continues to turn heads with its uncharacteristic hiring spree in London, this time in the form of Milbank restructuring partner Peter Newman.

A firm not famed for aggressive recruitment drives, the move is notable for being Skadden’s third London lateral recruit within the last six months, after it benefited from Allen & Overy’s failed US merger to add corporate partners Simon Toms and George Knighton last September.

Those hires were considered the biggest coup for Skadden’s European corporate practice since that of private equity partner Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017.

A Milbank ‘lifer’, Newman advises companies, creditors and stakeholders on cross-border restructurings, distressed acquisitions and financings. He will join Skadden’s corporate restructuring team.

Recent work highlights include advising new lenders to TORM A/S, the Danish shipping company on a $1.5bn restructuring and merger, the junior lender coordinating committee of General Healthcare Group on its £2.1bn restructuring and the lenders of Spanish clothing retailer Cortefiel on a €1.3bn restructuring.

Organic growth over the last year at Skadden’s Canary Wharf office has also seen M&A lawyer Denis Klimentchenko promoted to partner.

Scott Simpson, co-head of Skadden’s global transactions practice, said: ‘We continue to invest in the growth of our European platform through strategic hires. Peter’s experience in financial restructuring, with a particular focus on advising funds on their distressed investments, will deepen our bench in this important area and enhance the service we provide to our clients.’

Legal Business

Double blow for Magic Circle as US leaders Weil and Skadden secure M&A veterans

Leading US firms continue to dominate the London recruitment market with significant appointments from the Magic Circle, as Weil, Gotshal & Manges hired Linklaters’ highly-rated M&A partner David Avery-Gee (pictured) shortly after Allen & Overy (A&O) saw corporate pair Simon Toms and George Knighton jump ship to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The hire of Avery-Gee is a coup for Weil, which has struggled against more potent US rivals in recent years in London. The office has had setbacks in corporate, including the loss of London managing partner Mike Francies’ protégé Samantha McGonigle, who left after 13 years to co-found a growth fund in February.