Legal Business

‘I mistakenly thought severe anxiety was a good thing’ – Vinson’s London head on opening up about mental health

For Mental Health Awareness Week, Vinson & Elkins London managing partner Nick Henchie talked to LB about recognising mental health issues, seeking support, the importance of openness and honesty, and supporting the next generation of lawyers facing similar challenges

Have you ever experienced mental health issues related to work? 

When I look back on my career, I definitely had mental health struggles from very early on, but I don’t think I properly recognised that I had until I started having some therapy six months ago. There was never a crisis moment as such – worrying, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and stress are things I have lived with for many long years. On the train to work or after work I would often have a little cry to myself, and think, ‘God, I just wish I didn’t feel like this,’ but for decades I just accepted it as being part and parcel of the job – the price you pay.

I also mistakenly thought severe anxiety was a good thing because it spurred me on and motivated me to get up early, work long hours and get out of my comfort zone. This wasn’t instinct for me; it was a fear of failure more than anything.

In therapy, I learnt that this extreme level of anxiety and stress was not normal or helpful. Severe anxiety can lead to not sleeping or eating properly, and not being able to enjoy relaxing outside of work. It’s that churning feeling when you don’t eat because you’re so worried about something, usually irrationally. At times, it became a downward spiral, and my worries were totally out of proportion. Yet I thought it was ok to harness the anxiety to help me focus and work hard, to go above and beyond what others were doing. Until I started therapy, I didn’t realise that, for me, anxiety was not a source of strength, but a constant and overwhelming feeling that was not helping my performance at all but hindering it.     

A couple of months ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD, which can be a real exacerbator of anxiety. Now, with that diagnosis and therapy, a lot of what I’ve experienced over 30 years in the law is starting to make sense for the first time and I have strategies to help. The reason I’m doing this interview is because I hope I can encourage others who are struggling to see a professional. There are so many different types of therapy available which can help others avoid what I have experienced or manage anxiety more effectively. The difference it has made to my life is remarkable.   

 When did you realise it was time to seek support for your mental health?  

When I realised that my way of dealing with my issues was affecting my family, not just me. I could always get up in the morning and get on that 6am train, no matter how I was feeling inside. I always had the mental strength to get to work to help clients and work as hard as I needed to and to win cases. But at the end of the day, I’d come home and it was my family who would get the fallout of that ‘bottling it up’ approach. I was present, but very often not there. I came to realise it wasn’t ok for me to spend all day at work and then the limited time at home to just be wrapped up in my issues living in a black fog. I thought my therapy was home, which can be part of therapy, but sometimes it goes beyond what is fair on the family.   

I would also feel guilty for the way that I felt when comparing my struggles to those of others. What right did I have to worry about anything? But I’ve learnt that you’re entitled to have feelings and it’s not about comparing yourself to everyone. If that were the barometer you might never seek help. If you wake up in the morning feeling despair about the day ahead, that is your reality, and it doesn’t help to compare it to anyone else.  

What advice would you give to lawyers who may be feeling the same way you did?  

There are so many tools, techniques and people out there who can help you. A trained therapist can explain to you how the brain works, and talk you through things, and making sense of these problems makes it feel more manageable. For me, this gave me a boost, especially after 30 years not talking about it meaningfully, and knowing so many others have trodden your same path; you don’t feel alone.   

My real goal now is making sure young lawyers know from early on in their careers that they will turn into businesspeople one day, so that they can start developing the necessary skillset earlier than I did. It wasn’t so much the substance of the work I was doing that worried me – I loved that; it was always more about the future and winning business and thinking more broadly about my career. I’d think, ‘What’s the future going to look like after this or that case? Am I entrepreneurial enough? Am I sustainable?’

As a young senior associate, it can be hard to win business. It becomes less about how good a technical lawyer you are, and more about your business skills. No one goes into law because they want to go out and win business. It’s that awakening as you realise that one day it’s not enough to be a good lawyer in terms of just giving advice and being good with clients. There’s another step to this: if you want a long, sustainable career at a top law firm, you must generate business and be entrepreneurial. That can be very scary.    

Other things have helped me. Exercise and a healthy diet can be great for mental health. I always go for a run when I’m at my lowest. There are some great podcasts that can help. But the best thing I’ve done is to really open up and talk to people and be honest about your struggles. Don’t suffer in silence and take everything home and think you can cope and just ‘man up’ in the office. I did that over a long period, and it was unfair on those close to me. Thankfully, I have a very understanding family that has supported me but I’m in a much better mental space now, having got professional help.  

elisha.juttla@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

‘There is more understanding now’ – how firms are supporting staff with fertility challenges

For International Women’s Day, Vinson & Elkins Europe head of international disputes Louise Woods discusses how her firm has created a more inclusive workplace for staff facing fertility issues and baby loss.

What should firms do to support employees dealing with baby loss or fertility issues?

There’s been a recent nationwide survey conducted by the Fertility Network UK which surveyed more than 3,000 people and revealed the profound impact of fertility challenges on individuals in the workplace. Almost 9 out of 10 respondents said their productivity at work was strongly impacted by fertility challenges. Against this backdrop, it is important that firms support employees dealing with pregnancy loss and fertility issues.

One of the key things to remember in that context as an employer or a manager is that by the time an individual has reached the stage where they are seeking fertility treatment, they may have already spent several years trying to conceive. Their physical and mental wellbeing may already have been impacted.

It is important for employers to have a good understanding of how fertility treatments work and what they can involve. That base level of understanding can really help an employee through what is an incredibly difficult time in one’s life, trying to juggle very personal fertility issues alongside workplace commitments.

Another thing that is important to understand in this context is the timing. Often when these types of issues arise, it is at a time when a woman’s career is taking off. That can be a very difficult personal juggle for the individual going through fertility issues or pregnancy loss. Therefore, having knowledge and understanding of these issues is important.

It is also important to understand that there is not always going to be a positive outcome to fertility treatments. They are often not successful, and ultimately, it may not be on the first attempt or the second attempt or even the third. Education around fertility treatments is very important.

There are other things employers can do, such as offering paid leave for fertility treatments, bereavement leave for employees affected by pregnancy loss, and counselling for their partners as well, because people often forget that there is frequently also a partner grieving.

Employers should also ensure that they have a flexible working policy and that they use it to support employees going through fertility treatments. There are many appointments involved in some of these procedures and having the option to work from home and to facilitate that is an obvious way in which employers can support their employees.

Does V&E have any policies or support networks in place to help employees facing such issues?

Pregnancy loss or unsuccessful fertility treatments can be devastating, whether it happens to you or your partner. V&E is committed to giving all pregnant employees the support that they need. We allow a reasonable amount of paid time off to attend appointments or to support your partner in attending appointments.

We also have a partnership with an organisation called Maven. That’s a digital platform that provides support throughout the family planning process. There’s an app which provides information on vetted clinics and agencies, mental health support, and information for those going through IVF, egg freezing, adoption or surrogacy. Maven also provides support for prospective parents and new parents and specialized care for menopause, which is an important women’s health issue that deserves more airtime and understanding.

Please can you share your own experiences with these issues and how you navigated them alongside your career?

I’ve been very lucky in my fertility journey. I have two healthy children, ages four and eight, but I did experience two early pregnancy losses when trying to conceive. For one of those, I was actually in the workplace when it happened. Obviously, it was very difficult both times because pregnancy loss of any kind takes an emotional and a physical toll on you, and an emotional toll on your partner as well, which I think is often forgotten.

I’m very lucky, I found support in my colleagues and had confidence in the firm’s attitude. That is very much a lived experience for me, not just in terms of my own pregnancy losses, but when anyone in our team here in London suffers a bereavement or has a family member that is ill or going through treatment, ours is the kind of workplace where there is no question that an employee can have some time off. We are very good at supporting each other through those times. My experience, although obviously very upsetting, was overall a positive one regarding my experience at work.

Do you think there is a stigma attached to talking about baby loss or fertility struggles and how does that apply to the legal profession?

The position is improving. It’s a deeply personal experience at a time of great vulnerability. I think, understandably, women don’t feel comfortable sharing their journey with colleagues and their employer. It’s important to understand those struggles will often have been experienced before a person has told their employer they are trying to conceive, and that can affect how much communication there is. I hadn’t told my employer that I was pregnant at the time when I had my pregnancy loss and I think that is probably quite common. So, there is a stigma attached to talking about it, but the position is improving. There is more understanding than there was 10–15 years ago.

One of the reasons for that is people are more comfortable now speaking up and talking about their own experiences. One of the things I will now do is talk to colleagues about fertility because I want them to feel empowered to know they can share their experiences with me and that they will have my support if that would be helpful.

Do you think health issues traditionally considered to be ‘women’s health issues’, such as baby loss or menopause, have an impact on women’s career progression?

I haven’t seen any examples of it, but it’s probably going to be the case that other people will say that is their lived experience. Like mental health, there is more of a dialogue now, and things are improving. My lived experience was a positive one, and I have never felt that my own career progression was hampered in any way.

Holly.McKechnie@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Time to Talk Day Q&A: Andrew Nealon, Vinson & Elkins

For this year’s Time to Talk Day (1 February), which aims to encourage workplaces to start a conversation about mental health, we sat down with Vinson & Elkins energy and infrastructure partner Andrew Nealon (pictured) to discuss the impact of law firm culture on mental health and some of the positive industry changes he has witnessed over the course of his career so far.

LB: How prevalent are mental health issues in the legal profession?

Andrew Nealon: Mental health issues are prevalent in society, and the legal industry is no exception. A career in law is often very fast paced, service oriented, high performance and intense, both in terms of pressure and the workload itself. This pressure is often exacerbated by sustained periods of all those factors, and, at times, you can be going for weeks or even months with those pressures bearing down on you.

Are there aspects of workplace culture specifically in law firms that exacerbate mental health issues?

Law firms operate in an environment of high achievers who are all driving to excel. Given that environment, there can be a reluctance, especially by the people themselves, to recognise the warning signs when the stresses of life plus work are getting too much. It leaves potential for people to push themselves too far before seeking help.

One of the greatest parts of working in a law firm is the camaraderie around it. For instance, when you start as a trainee in a law firm, your fellow trainees become your allies and friends and working in a real team produces the most satisfying results. But at times, it can lead to team members not wanting to let down their colleagues, which is another thing that can push people past their limits. If you combine those factors with the high-pressure environment, with the high-value work that people are normally working on, it’s not surprising that some of these issues do arise. As managers of law firms and workers in law firms generally, it’s key for us to be looking out for our team members and be on the lookout for signs that people might be suffering in silence.

What mental health initiatives does V&E have in place?

V&E is invested in the well-being of its people and takes a very holistic approach to providing resources and benefits. We see physical health, mental health, social, personal, family health all as priorities for all of our people. We have employee assistance programme for mental health, whereby everyone in the firm gets eight complimentary sessions per year with a therapist or coach to deal with anything from everyday concerns to serious problems, including burnout, anxiety and dealing with stressful work situations.

We also take our lawyer development incredibly seriously. In my opinion, one of the triggers for people experiencing mental health issues within a law firm context is not feeling fully supported with their growth and feeling out of depth with what they’re doing, while being required to work very hard. We have a very robust development programme which equips our associates with mentorship, coaching, and the support they need to acquire the relevant skills and experiences.

The way I like to view it is that we have a swim policy, not a sink-or-swim policy at the firm. The long-term goal is to help our lawyers really become the best versions of them, both professionally and personally.

Do you think there is a stigma attached to talking about mental health and how does that apply to the legal profession?

People may think there is a stigma, but I feel I’ve never had someone come and talk to me about a mental health issue that they were having who left the discussion regretting raising it.

People are much more receptive to listening to their colleagues that have problems and trying to help them address those problems than perhaps people expect. Perhaps the stigma is still perceived, but people that reach out early often find that there’s no the reality behind it.

Throughout your legal career, have you observed any changes in the industry that have positively impacted mental well-being?

For me, the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is how much more prevalent the discussion about the topic is now than it used to be.

When I started as a junior lawyer it was an incredibly stressful, life-changing moment. Most juniors including myself seemed to suffer from stress and anxiety. At that time, there really was a perceived expectation that you would just push on and keep doing your job. Today it’s totally different. If I walk into our firm café here today, there’s a whiteboard up, saying: ‘Let’s talk’. There is always an initiative making people more cognisant of mental health. That didn’t exist when I started and it is a great development that people understand that we are humans, and humans suffer from mental health issues, which is potentially exacerbated by a high-pressure career.

Elisha.Juttla@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

V&E hires energy and infra partner de Cintré from Milbank in the City

Vinson & Elkins has hired Milbank’s Kilian de Cintré as a partner into its corporate and finance practice in London, the firm announced today (13 November).

The move builds on the hire last month of energy and infrastructure finance partner Chris Taufatofua, also from Milbank, to its corporate and finance practice in London.

At Milbank, de Cintré spent almost eight years in the London office. His wealth of experience encompasses representing sponsors, development finance institutions, commercial lenders, and export credit agencies on the development, structuring and financing of complex natural resources, infrastructure and energy projects internationally.

He has been recognised in The Legal 500 as a rising star, playing a support role on a number of key oil and gas mandates. He also brings with him extensive knowledge of project development and commercial documentation.

He has served as an associate at Winston & Strawn, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Linklaters earlier in his career.

Head of V&E’s London corporate practice, Ben Higson, commented: ‘With his cross-industry experience and approach to working across practice groups, Kilian is a natural complement to the firm’s London corporate and finance practice and culture.’

Higson added, ‘Alongside Chris Taufatofua, he is another very valuable addition, especially as demand grows for investment in, and financing for, projects in the energy transition space.’

elisha.juttla@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘It means business in London’: V&E takes Hogan Lovells’ Higson as City corporate head

Hogan Lovells’ London M&A partner Ben Higson has been appointed as Vinson & Elkins’ London head of corporate.  

He takes up the role after 15 years at Hogan Lovells, including eight years as head of the corporate team. He also served as an elected member of the firm’s global management board between 2014 and 2020.

Higson’s experience includes energy, infrastructure, natural resources and diversified industrials transactions. He recently advised Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation on its $735m acquisition of Bahia Minerals and ExxonMobil on its $1.75bn disposal of the North Sea assets of Mobil North Sea and other projects.

Speaking to Legal Business, Higson said: ‘Vinson & Elkins is clearly one of the world’s leading firms in energy and infrastructure, and has always been in that position, so there was a natural synergy with the practice that I already had.  

‘Energy and infrastructure is an area that is continually evolving and what Vinson & Elkins has achieved in following and staying ahead of the trends is impressive. It is at the forefront of some of the cutting-edge deals including those supporting the energy transition and moving from a carbon-heavy to a carbon-neutral world.’

Kaam Sahely, V&E’s co-head of corporate, added: ‘During 2022, we have seen increasing demand from our private capital and strategic clients for our experience in infrastructure transactions across the digital, transportation and energy sectors, including specifically energy transition.

‘Ben’s experience in these areas together with his ability to lead deal teams make him a perfect fit.’

Higson’s arrival follows that of former colleagues Roberta Downey and Angus Rankin, who joined V&E’s international construction disputes practice as partners from Hogan Lovells in October 2021. 

Higson concluded: ‘We will be looking to build the practice up at partner level as well as associate level. For people doing this type of work, the firm presents a really attractive proposition and I hope with me joining the market will see that Vinson & Elkins means business in London.’ 

megan.mayers@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Milbank continues City hiring spree with Shearman high yield guru Gkoutzinis as Vinson nabs Jones Day finance partner

High-yield specialist Apostolos Gkoutzinis is to join Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy from US rival Shearman & Sterling, a move which marks the firm’s fifth hire in the space of a week.

The recruitment of Gkoutzinis, Shearman’s head of European capital markets, is another sign of Milbank’s ambitions to make its mark in City finance, coming just days after it secured a four-partner restructuring team from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

That move – which included Cadwaladers’ global financial restructuring co-chair Yushan Ng, and partners Jacqueline Ingram, Karen McMaster and Sinjini Saha – was a significant boost to Milbank’s City finance team, which counts among its clients Oaktree, KKR, Centerbridge Capital Partners and Blackstone.

Gkoutzinis (pictured) was made up to partner in Shearman’s European capital markets group in 2011 having joined the firm in 2005 as an associate.

He specialises in US federal securities law, high-yield debt offerings and general debt and equity capital markets transactions across leveraged finance, SEC-registered offerings, restructurings, recapitalisations and privatisations. Since 2005, Gkoutzinis has acted on the majority of IPO and high-yield bond transactions in the Greek market brought about the country’s sovereign debt crisis.

In another key City move by a US firm, Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has added Jones Day acquisition and leveraged finance partner Paul Simcock to its London finance bench. The move follows V&E’s hire last year of Clifford Chance finance partner John Dawson.

Simcock joined Jones Day in 2014 having previously been a partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner. He was previously counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for seven years after training at Allen & Overy.

He has acted for private equity sponsors, alternative credit providers, banks and corporations across a range of debt restructurings, distressed transactions, refinancings and other syndicated and bilateral lending projects. Recent mandates have included advising L1 Retail, the retail investment arm of LetterOne, on the £900m senior financing underpinning the acquisition of heath retailer Holland & Barrett from The Nature’s Bounty Co. and The Carlyle Group.

He has also advised Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II (MEIF II) on deals including the refinancing and sale of National Car Parks group (NCP) and the refinancing of Condor Ferries Group, an operator of passenger and freight ferry services.

‘Our corporate team has been growing rapidly, and with the addition of another top-tier hire, we’re positioned to push even further into one of the leading finance capitals of the world,’ said London-based Jeff Eldredge, co-head of V&E’s corporate department.

‘Paul is an extremely accomplished lawyer whose strong relationships and energetic approach to client service are exactly what we look for at V&E’, Eldredge added.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

For more on Apostolos Gkoutzinis’ career, read ‘Life during law: Apostolos Gkoutzinis, Shearman & Sterling’

Legal Business

20% hike at Vinson pushes associate starting pay to £120k as US leaders heat up City talent market

Vinson & Elkins(V&E) has increased its London associate and trainee solicitor salary levels, boosting newly qualified salaries 20% to £120,000 and first-year trainee salaries by 11% to£50,000.

The firm announced the rates this week (20 July), alongside its second-year associates pay. They will receive a pay rise of 15% to £127,000 (from £110,000 previously), while the firm boosted third-year salaries to £140,000, a 17% increase from £120,000 last year. Meanwhile, the firm hiked second-year trainee salaries 17% to £55,000.

All of the associate salary increases at V&E were implemented on 1 July 2017, while the trainee increases take effect from 1 September 2017.

In January 2017, when V&E published its financial results, its revenues were up 4% to $653.9m. PEP was $2.03m for the year.

The new compensation structure follows V&E’s move in January 2016 to increase all of its London-based associate salary levels and raise its newly qualified salaries to £100,000, then a 25% rise.

At the time, second-year associates also received an overall pay increase of 22% to £110,000, while third-year wages grew 20% to £120,000. The Texas firm last increased salary levels to £45,000 for first-year trainees in September 2015, and £47,500 for second-year trainees.

V&E’s London managing partner Alex Msimang said it is very important that the firm attracts and retains top talent at every level.

‘This is a highly competitive market, and we believe these compensation adjustments exemplify our appreciation for the hard work and excellent service that our associates and trainees provide to our clients every day,’ he added.

Earlier this month, Akin Gump also increased trainee salaries by 12% and 8% for first and second years respectively, raising incoming first-year trainee pay from £43,000 to £48,000, and second-year salaries from £48,000 to £52,000. NQ pay at Akin remains at $180,000 which is £140,000 at current exchange rates, as the firm last increased NQ remuneration levels in September 2016 from £100,000.

Also in this year’s pay review, Jones Day boosted their junior lawyers’ pay by 18%, rising to £100,000, £15,000 up from last year.

Georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Clifford Chance loses City finance partner to Vinson & Elkins

Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has hired London Clifford Chance (CC) finance partner John Dawson, as the US firm strengthens its push into the City.

With clients such as Bridgepoint, Electra and Vivacom, Dawson has experience of public and private acquisition financings, restructurings, unitranche, loan–to-own and acquisitions of loan portfolios. He joined CC as a trainee in 1999 and was made up to partner in 2010.

Dawson’s appointment brings the US firm’s UK partner headcount to 15. He joins a number of recent hires the US firm’s City office has made in the last eighteen months, as it bolsters its private equity capability.

In October 2016, V&E brought in Ashurst’s former Singapore head, private equity specialist Shaun Lascelles. Earlier in 2016, V&E hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Ian Frost and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft deal-maker Paul Dunbar.

Dawson is one of several London partners to exit CC for a US firm over the past year. This May, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan turned to the Magic Circle firm for London-based tax investigations and disputes head Liesl Fichardt.

In October, CC corporate finance heavyweight Patrick Sarch, head of CC’s global banking sector team, left the firm for White & Case.

To compete with high-paying US rivals, CC last month voted through another round of changes to its remuneration structure, two years after last bringing more flexibility into its pay system.

The firm’s management can now raise select partners to 150 points or 130 points and a bonus. This hike is greater than the 115/130 points previously available for CC’s top earners.

The points ranged initially between 40 and 100 before 2015, with a discretionary gate at 70 points, aimed primarily at the Magic Circle firm’s European offices.

CC thanked Dawson for his contribution to the firm. V&E declined to comment.

madeleine.farman@legalbusiness.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Legal Business

‘Ready to hit the ground running’: former Ashurst PE player Lascelles joins Vinson & Elkins

legal-business-default

Private equity specialist Shaun Lascelles, the former Ashurst Singapore head whose departure was announced last month, has joined Vinson & Elkins (V&E) in the City, it has been confirmed today (3 October).

Leaving just over a year after being hired to recharge Ashurst’s private equity practice, Lascelles (pictured) joined in 2015 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom where he co-headed its global private equity practice. With a particular focus in M&A and private equity, Lascelles advises a broad range of private equity firms, hedge funds, state-owned investment funds and other investment funds.

Lascelles follows former colleague counsel Simon Rootsey who moved to V&E from Skadden in July. While at Skadden, the pair both guided Doughty Hanson through its £935m sale of cinema operator Vue Entertainment to OMERS private equity and AIMCo. Also at Skadden, Lascelles’ team was shortlisted for the Legal Business Private Equity Team of the Year in 2014 for advising BlackRock on the purchase of Credit Suisse’s exchange-traded funds division, giving the client an important footing in Europe.

‘Shaun has earned an excellent reputation in London and beyond as a leading private equity adviser, and his practice perfectly complements our existing client base,’ said Jeff Eldredge, V&E’s head of corporate for Europe, Middle East and Africa. ‘We are focused on strategically growing our group with lawyers just like Shaun.’

Lascelles said: ‘It’s a very exciting opportunity to further expand the M&A and private equity group in London. The firm has been looking to expand its capability in these areas and the senior team in London has more than doubled with the addition of Paul Dunbar, Simon and me and with Daniel Graham being made up to counsel.’

He added: ‘The firm has historically been very strong in energy and Africa, which has been where much of my work has been over the past few years, so it is a very good fit.’

Earlier this year, V&E hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Ian Frost and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft deal maker Paul Dunbar to bolster its offering in the burgeoning City private equity market.

News of Lascelles’ exit from Ashurst came the same day (15 September) as it was revealed it had lost its Abu Dhabi head Alastair Holland to US firm Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle and its Hong Kong managing partner Lina Lee joining Allen & Overy.

As well as losing Lascelles, Ashurst lost his predecessor, corporate partner Keith McGuire from its Singapore office following his decision to join PwC Legal.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Middle East consolidation continues: V&E latest to pull out of Abu Dhabi

legal-business-default

In the midst of volatile oil and gas markets, energy-focused firm Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has become the latest firm to close down its Abu Dhabi office.

Following a strategic review of the firm’s Middle East operations, the firm’s management committee voted to shut its entire Abu Dhabi base and transfer its offering to V&E’s two offices in Dubai and Riyadh.

Energy transactions and projects partner Rob Patterson and other staff will relocate to Dubai while V&E chairman Mark Kelly said the firm is working ‘closely with all of [its] Middle East practice staff to ensure a smooth transition’.

The Abu Dhabi office will officially close for business at the end of March this year, leaving the firm with 14 international offices. Having opened in 2007, the Abu Dhabi office provided advice to clients in the oil and gas sector mostly complex energy projects in the region.

Kelly said: ‘The Middle East remains a key part of our international practice, and we expect this consolidation will have minimal impact on our ability to serve clients in the region.’

Another firm to recently pull out of the region was Simmons & Simmons which announced last month it will close its Abu Dhabi office affecting five lawyers including three partners. The closure means the firm will service clients from its Dubai office which is its largest office in the region.

While shrinking in the Middle East, V&E expanded in London earlier this month after it hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Ian Frost and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft deal doer Paul Dunbar in an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning City private equity market.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk