Legal Business

Revolving doors: DLA wins back Proskauer real estate partner as Macfarlanes and Dentons make City hires

City lateral recruitment picked up pace again last week as DLA Piper won back a real estate partner from Proskauer Rose, Macfarlanes hired for its financial services team and Dentons strengthened its employment bench.

Joanne Owen rejoined her old firm DLA after a three and a half-year stint in Proskauer’s City corporate team, having previously worked at DLA for nearly 20 years. She advises on institutional and corporate property matters and cross-border corporate real estate transactions. She has acted for leading private equity houses, sovereign wealth funds and private high net worth investors.

The firm has also added partner Katie Jacobson to its real estate practice in Birmingham from Hogan Lovells. Jacobson, who advises institutional investors across the retail, office and industrial sectors, will join DLA at the end of this month.

Elsewhere, Macfarlanes has hired Eversheds Sutherland financial services partner Andrew Henderson, who is set to join his new firm in early 2020.

Senior partner Charles Martin told Legal Business: ‘Andrew is an outstanding fit for us given his focus on investment management clients. He offers particular expertise in retail funds, AIFMD (alternative investment regulation) and international issues, all of which are important to many of our clients.

‘All regulated financial services businesses are dealing with a huge amount of regulatory change and active intervention from regulators. This impacts our clients in the financial services industry. They look to us for joined up advice spanning all the legal aspects of the sector that matter most to them. This almost always includes regulation and quite often means that they look to us to support them when they make important judgement calls in the regulatory field,’ added Martin.

Dentons has added to its UK people, reward and mobility team in London with the hire of employment partner Purvis Ghani from Stephenson Harwood.

Dentons’ head of UK people, reward and mobility practice, Virginia Allen, commented: ‘With [Purvis’] broad range of experience across multiple areas of employment and discrimination law, his expertise will enhance our offering which handles a full suite of UK employment, pensions, employee benefits and immigration matters for our clients worldwide.’

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright has hired tax partner Florent Trouiller for its Luxembourg office from Dechert. Trouiller has experience in cross boarder private equity and real estate investment and has advised clients on all tax aspects of capital markets and securitisation transactions.

EMEA head of tax at Norton Rose Fulbright, Dominic Stuttaford, commented: ‘In the last few years, Luxembourg’s significance as a jurisdiction for financial institutions has grown, and its tax regime has become more complex. Therefore, a strong tax capability in Luxembourg underpins our pan-European and international tax offering.’

The Luxembourg office opened in June 2017 with three partners and is now operating with more than 18 fee earners across various practice areas.

Finally, Taylor Wessing has hired back its former Dubai head of corporate and co-managing partner Osama Hassan after an eight-year stint at Pinsent Masons. He joins as the firm’s Dubai managing partner and was previously head of the Middle East group and the corporate practice at Pinsent Masons.

Managing partner Shane Gleghorn commented: ‘Osama is widely recognised in the UAE market. We have a long-established platform in Dubai and our international client base has evolved significantly in TMC and private wealth. These are areas that we are known for being strong in and Osama’s experience across family owned businesses and technology in the region are hard to compete with.’

Legal Business

Revolving doors: NRF loses insurance team to DAC Beachcroft as Taylor Wessing taps Fieldfisher for life sciences co-head

In an otherwise sedate week for City legal recruitment, DAC Beachcroft has proved the exception to the rule for August hiring, adding a seven-strong insurance team from Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) in London.

The team joining DAC was led by insurance litigation partner Kirsty Hick who joined on 1 August and acts for global and London market insurers. She has experience advising on complex coverage and defense issues as well as warranty and indemnity claims. The firm has been trying to grow its high-end international insurance business for the last few years with the London hires being a significant boon to that strategy.

The move follows the hire in May of Liam O’Connell, who was previously head of NRF’s EMEA insurance claims team.

Legal Business: ‘It’s a reflection of how far we have come as a firm, that we can attract the quality of Kirsty and Liam from a firm like Norton Rose to our firm. We can provide them with a very strong platform from which they can further develop their practice.’

‘There’s only three law firms that can genuinely say they offer a full-service to insurance clients and that’s ourselves, Clyde & Co and Kennedys. The market is consolidated around those three firms and as a result some of the other firms are beginning to lose some of their insurance practices’, Pollitt added.

Legal directors Rebecca Bailey and Sarah O’Connell and senior associates Jack Holling, Natasha Marshall and Cathryn Teverson will join Hick at the firm in September.

Elsewhere, Taylor Wessing has hired Alison Dennis from Fieldfisher to co-head its life sciences and healthcare group.

Dennis is experienced in life sciences regulatory and transactional work, and acts for medical device, pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The hire of Dennis is intended to fill the whole left by the firm’s previous head of life sciences, Malcolm Bates, who will be leaving the firm for Goodwin Procter. Both Dennis and Bates are currently carrying out their notice periods.

Meanwhile, newly formed London firm Avonhurst has added two ex-magic circle lawyers to its team. Ian Frost joins from Vinson & Elkins but spent over 20 years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer working on leveraged finance transactions. James Wyatt joins from Linklaters where he was a senior lawyer in global project finance matters, energy and infrastructure sector finance and infrastructure acquisition finance. The firm was formed last month by Jonathan Bloom, previously a capital markets and funds partner at Jones Day. The firm is focused on offering services around legal, legislative and political risk alongside capital markets advice.

Eversheds Sutherland meanwhile hired partners Werner Brickwedde and Simon Weppner in Dusseldorf. Brickwedde joins the corporate team from Clifford Chance and has experience in cross-border transactions while Weppner joins the tax team from Taylor Wessing. He is focused on the tax structure of company acquisitions and investments.

Alexander Niethammer, head of the commercial practice group commented: ‘We can strengthen our position in providing cross-border transaction and tax advice from one of the most important German locations for foreign direct investments.’

Finally, TLT has expanded its real estate capabilities with the hire of Claire Hamilton from JMW in Manchester. Hamilton has experience in property investment, development and finance and also in-house experience from time spent at MCR Property Group.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing breaks £150m UK revenue barrier as PEP rises 13%

Taylor Wessing has kicked off the financial reporting season for the UK top-25 with another year of double-digit growth in profit per equity partner (PEP).

In the first financial results since Shane Gleghorn took over as managing partner, the tech-focused firm increased UK turnover by 8% to £156.6m in 2018/19.

Profits at the 366-lawyer business rose 10% to £62.6m off the back of what Gleghorn described as a surge in corporate technology deals, particularly around digital platforms. PEP at the 96-strong UK partnership grew 13% to £655,230, following a 20% increase the previous year: one of the strongest performances in the UK top-25. The results give the firm some momentum after two years of slower revenue growth and a 6% drop in PEP in 2016/17.

Meanwhile, Taylor Wessing’s global verein, which includes 1,150 lawyers and 344 partners in 18 countries, hiked turnover 13% to £339.7m, after breaking the £300m barrier last year.

Gleghorn told Legal Business: ‘We have had a strong performance in all our sectors and practice areas, but there have been some standouts: corporate technology has had a very strong year, and patents had an extraordinarily successful year, with some ground-breaking litigation. Our private wealth and real estate teams had a very strong year as well in a context where a lot of people predicted that the real estate market would be very difficult.’

Recent mandates included the sale of 80% of cryptocurrency exchange platform Bitstamp to Brussels-based investment firm NXMH, the £178m acquisition of Audio Network by Entertainment One UK, and the £85m funding of digital bank Monzo from General Catalyst and Accel.

The year was marked by a number of significant strategic moves for the firm, with former litigation co-head Gleghorn replacing long-time managing partner Tim Eyles last October.

In a bid to increase profitability, Taylor Wessing launched a low-cost centre in Liverpool in the autumn which it plans to staff with 150 people by the end of 2020, including business services roles, paralegals and lawyers.

In January, it put 34 of its 270 City business services staff under consultation with a view to relocate some of their roles to the Northshore office. The consultation is still ongoing.

In a boost to its tech credentials, the firm entered an alliance with Silicon Valley leader Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in February, which will see the two firms co-operate on transactional work in tech and life sciences.

Gleghorn added: ‘We have seen a very successful drive of revenue from the US, both through Wilson Sonsini but also our Palo Alto office.’

For more on Shane Gleghorn’s background and approach to leadership, see our latest Life During Law (£)

Legal Business

Life during law: Shane Gleghorn

My mother is Irish and my father English. They were first-generation immigrants. I was born a year after my mother’s arrival in Australia.

Perth was a fantastic place to grow up. We were close to the ocean. A very outdoors environment – you’d cycle to school. Fantastic as a child.

Legal Business

‘A third way’: Taylor Wessing enters alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

Marco Cillario assesses Taylor Wessing’s alliance with Silicon Valley royalty Wilson Sonsini as RPC forges US insurance partnership

While the issue of securing a meaningful US footprint for many UK-bred firms endures, Taylor Wessing UK managing partner Shane Gleghorn claims his firm has found the way to gain transatlantic coverage without a complicated merger.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing to enter alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

Taylor Wessing is entering into an alliance with Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.

The UK top 20 firm confirmed to Legal Business today (18 February) that its global partnership has approved proposals for the two firms to co-operate on transactional work in tech and life sciences. It will see its lawyers work together with the Palo Alto-bred firm on matters including transactions with a US and European element.

Taylor Wessing will maintain relationships with other US firms outside the tech and life sciences transactional space. The firm currently has a representative base in Silicon Valley staffed by two partners, one counsel and one associate, as well as a base in New York, but does not practice US law.

Wilson Sonsini launched a small London outpost in August 2018, led by US tech lawyer Daniel Glazer. The firm’s website also lists one counsel and one associate in the City base, which is not practising English law.

Following two years of sluggish growth in the UK, Taylor Wessing posted a strong set of financial results in 2017/18, hiking UK revenue 12% to £144.6m and profits per equity partner 20% to £579,000. Globally the firm, which last year moved from a looser alliance of international firms into a formal verein structure, broke the £300m barrier after hiking turnover 12% to £301.5m.

Meanwhile, Wilson Sonsini posted revenue of $797m for 2017, up 6% on the previous year and making the firm the 53rd largest by revenue in Legal Business Global 100 tables. PEP at the Palo Alto-bred firm was $2.2m, up 12% on the previous year.

For more on Taylor Wessing, see ‘LB100 case study: Taylor Wessing’ (£)

Legal Business

City biz services staff under threat again as Taylor Wessing mulls 34 redundancies

The transfer of business services roles into low-cost bases shows no sign of slowdown in 2019, with top 20 UK firm Taylor Wessing announcing it is considering making 13% of its 270-strong City team redundant by the end of 2020.

The move, announced today (25 January), potentially affects 34 London-based staff and comes as the firm looks to create 35 new business services roles in the Liverpool base it launched last October.

Led by head of real estate disputes Saleem Fazal, the firm plans to grow the headcount in its Northshore office from 20 to 150 by the end of 2020, including new roles and relocations from London.

It is currently considering proposals to move some of its business services functions from London to Liverpool. If implemented, the proposals could lead to redundancies in the City, although the firm said in a statement that all individuals impacted will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Liverpool.

As well as the business support staff, the Liverpool office will host at least ten paralegals and two real estate associates.

The consultation on the plans will launch on 6 February and is expected to last between four and six weeks.

Taylor Wessing managing partner Shane Gleghorn told Legal Business: ‘We want to remain competitive, invest in our business and increase profitability. Many other organisations have the alternative resourcing model. We are wishing to focus on the legal piece and our current sectors of focus. We are not chasing local revenue, it is not about competing with local firms [in Liverpool]. This is very much consistent with our current strategy.’

The news comes in spite of Taylor Wessing posting a strong set of financial results in 2017/18, its UK profit per equity partner rising 20% to £579,000 while global revenue of the verein firm rose 12% to £144.6m.

Taylor Wessing joins a long list of firms announcing reviews of their London support staff amid cost pressure. Last October, Baker McKenzie launched a review of its entire London business services staff, estimated to include around 350 people.

A few days later Bakers announced a new low-cost centre in Tampa, Florida, catering for a similar number of roles.

In July, Ashurst slashed 54 of its 100-strong secretarial team and Ince & Co announced 32 redundancies, including 25 business services staff and seven fee earners.

Hogan Lovells cut 54 of around 500 business services roles in June, moving most of them to low-cost hubs in Birmingham, Johannesburg and Louisville.

Legal Business

LB100 case study: Taylor Wessing

Long-serving managing partner Tim Eyles (pictured) received a nice farewell gift in his last year at the helm of Taylor Wessing, as the firm posted one of the strongest financial performances in the top 25.

The tech-focused shop rode hugely on the boom in transactional activity and the high demand for GDPR advice to grow UK revenue by a solid 12% to £144.6m. Globally, Taylor Wessing – which over the last financial year moved from a looser alliance of international firms into a formal verein structure – broke the £300m barrier after hiking turnover 12% to £301.5m.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing follows northshore wave with 10-lawyer Liverpool launch

Taylor Wessing is joining the growing list of City firms expanding into low cost centres in the UK by launching an office in Liverpool.

The UK top 20 firm’s new base will open in September with an initial team of 11 lawyers and business support staff. Taylor Wessing will appoint a partner to lead the new office and aims to grow the team to 25 by the end of the year – consisting of 10 legal and 15 non-legal roles. They will all be new roles for the firm.

But the jobs of three permanent City business acceptance staff are under consultation as a result of the move. The firm said in a statement affected staff will be given ‘the opportunity and financial support to relocate if they wish to’, and that moving to Liverpool was an opportunity to invest more in the team.

The Liverpool team will initially be working in flexible premises until a permanent office space is found, with the next steps to be announced next year. The office will assist lawyers with opening new client matters, as well as carrying out due diligence and conflict review.

Managing partner Tim Eyles said he saw the new outpost as ‘a catalyst for long-term reinvention to continue to deliver a better service, being smart with our resources and continuing to invest in more people – we will need them’.

He told Legal Business: ‘We did a lot of research and we concluded there is a great pool of talent across the North West, great connectivity and a whole spirit of creativity and innovation around Liverpool as a tech hub, consistent with one of our focus areas.’

The firm chose Liverpool because of the local talent pool, universities and its reputation as one of the fastest growing technology hubs in the country.

The Liverpool launch comes off the back of a strong financial year at Taylor Wessing, which in 2017/18 posted 12% revenue growth to £144.6m for its UK business and 12% growth in its international network to £301.5m. UK profits per equity partner (PEP) grew 20% to hit £579,000.

A number of firms have launched low-cost centres in the UK recently, with Clifford Chance entering Newcastle through the acquisition of Carillion’s in-house legal arm, while Reed Smith opened an outpost in Leeds.

The low cost centres have inevitably impacted City business support staff, with Hogan Lovells announcing last month it will cut 54 of its circa 500 business support jobs in London in favour of new roles in Johannesburg, Louisville and Birmingham.

Ashurst also launched a redundancy review in May which could result in 80% of its 100-strong secretarial team in London being axed, while Pinsent Masons began a consultation on cutting 100 non-legal jobs last year. Ince & Co announced in June it was to cut 30 roles, primarily impacting its business service ranks.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing’s UK PEP shoots up 20% as global revenue exceeds the £300m mark

In another early sign of a good 2017/18 for UK firms, Taylor Wessing has followed up on a disappointing performance last year with a solid 12% revenue growth to £144.6m for its UK business.

In what UK managing partner Tim Eyles (pictured) described as the firm’s ‘best year yet’, UK profits per equity partner (PEP) rebounded to grow 20% and hit £579,000 after last year’s 6% drop to £481,000.

‘We achieved superb growth across our key sectors, especially in technology media and communications, life sciences, and private wealth,’ said Eyles of the last results he will oversee as managing partner. He is to step down after nine years at the helm in October and will be replaced by litigation co-head Shane Gleghorn.

In further evidence that the recent regulatory changes were a good source of business for tech-focused firms in the UK, Eyles also pointed to Taylor Wessing’s work on GDPR as an area of ‘particular success.’

The verein firm’s global revenue grew 12% to £301.5m, again, a stronger performance than last year’s 6% rise to £269.8m.

It was a year marked by changes for the firm. As well as electing Gleghorn last month, the firm appointed a new senior partner in December, with Dominic FitzPatrick replacing Adam Marks after six years.

Gleghorn and FitzPatrick receive a confident handover from Eyles, who took charge in 2009 in the midst of a recession and in the wake of a 7% fall in revenue for the 2008/09 financial year. Eyles is credited with hugely expanding the firm’s international network and giving it a clearer brand, building its non-IP disputes business and its private client offering.