Legal Business

International roundup: Dentons enters Ireland and Cooley steps into Singapore as Winston leaves the Middle East

International roundup: Dentons enters Ireland and Cooley steps into Singapore as Winston leaves the Middle East

Dentons is to enter one of the few European jurisdictions missing from its sprawling international network by launching an outpost in Dublin.

Law firms’ strategies in the Middle East and Asia continue to diverge, meanwhile, with Winston & Strawn concluding its five-year spell in Dubai as Cooley confirmed its third office launch in less than a year by opening in Singapore.

Dentons announced today (8 January) it was launching in the Irish legal market through a couple of lateral hires, a different approach to the firm’s usual international expansion via merger.

Former Ashurst and William Fry corporate partner Eavan Saunders will become Dentons’ Dublin managing partner while Matheson’s finance and capital markets partner Peter O’Brien will become the chair of the new office, which will open in the second quarter of 2020 under the verein firm’s UK LLP.

‘A lot of the larger [Irish] firms have a very international referral-based business model which means they are going to be slightly less focused on the approach we want to take, which is about being able to service our existing and multinational clients and take our platform to the Irish market,’ UK and Middle East chief executive Jeremy Cohen told Legal Business. ‘We felt that building the team ourselves was the best way forward.’

He added the firm had been looking at the Irish market for two-three years: ‘It’s a vibrant market, particularly in the areas we play in strongly: financial services, funds, aviation finance, but also more and more in tech and real estate.’

Saunders said she expected to have a 50-lawyer, full-service team in her office ‘in the not too distant future’: ‘This is not a niche sector play: the ambition is to build a leading international firm. What was very attractive about the Dentons platform is that it’s not a Brexit play. The ambition is greater.’

A number of firms have launched in Ireland in the nearly four years since Britain voted to quit the European Union in June 2016, including Shepherd and Wedderburn, Clyde & Co, Fieldfisher, DLA Piper, Lewis Silkin, Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons.

Moving East, Squire Patton Boggs will pick up the bulk of Winston’s former ten-lawyer Dubai team, including its Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman, just over three years after the M&A veteran joined the firm from White & Case.

Winston’s corporate partner Christopher Skipper and Middle East finance head Shibeer Ahmed will follow Steedman to Squires next week alongside at least four of the firm’s Dubai associates, after the Global 100 top 50 Chicago-bred firm announced it is shutting its only regional branch.

The new additions bring Squires Middle East headcount to around 50 lawyers across four offices, bucking a trend that has seen several Western firms retrench or leave the region altogether over the last few years.

‘We are not a fair-weather player in this market. We have been here and will be here a long time,’ Squires’ United Arab Emirates managing partner Tom Wilson told Legal Business. ‘There have been a number of firms that have opened in the Middle East just before or just after the financial crisis, either capitalising on the economic boom in the region or trying to insulate from difficulties in other markets and some of them are retrenching or refocusing – that’s not us.’

He added: ‘Our presence in the region dates back 40 years through historic relationships and representations of governments and government entities in the Gulf. [Legacy] Patton Boggs was established in the early 60s with the goal of acting for newly minted countries in their relationships with other government and global organisations. Our presence in the Middle East is rooted in more than just the latest economic boom, it’s rooted in deep, long-lasting relationships that carry on.’

The move brings to an end Winston’s quick rise and fall in the region. It launched in the Middle East in March 2015 with the appointment of Stephen Jurgenson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as part of a 15-lawyer hire from the firm. The following year it added Steedman from White & Case, who had previously been legacy Norton Rose’s senior Middle East partner until 2011.

But several major law firms have been retrenching in the Middle East after overinvesting during the oil boom in the 2000s, with Abu Dhabi a primary target. Between 2015 and 2017, firms including Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons, Latham & Watkins, Vinson & Elkins and Herbert Smith Freehills closed their doors to focus on Dubai, just 100km away. Weil Gotshal & Manges left the region altogether in February 2017.

Winston chair Tom Fitzgerald said the firm’s clients were located ‘throughout the Middle East and have cross-border legal needs that reach beyond Dubai – particularly into London’ and that the move equated to a ‘centralisation of resources’ allowing the firm to service clients more effectively.

Finally and further to the East, Cooley has confirmed plans to launch its sixteenth global office in Singapore, moving two of its partners to the city state.

Hired last year from Gunderson Dettmer, corporate specialist Ferish Patel will relocate from Hong Kong to become the partner in charge of the new outpost, while emerging company and venture capital co-chair Matthew Bartus is moving from Silicon Valley.

San Francisco-bred Cooley has picked up the pace of its international expansion lately off the back of booming business in its West Coast tech heartlands, its global revenue surging 14% to $1.23bn in 2018.

Last year it launched in Hong Kong and opened its first continental European base in Brussels.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Hogan Lovells and Gibson Dunn expand on continent, McGuireWoods appoint to London, Winston to Dubai

Revolving doors: Hogan Lovells and Gibson Dunn expand on continent, McGuireWoods appoint to London, Winston to Dubai

Firms have strengthened their global practices, as Hogan Lovells appointed a key Paris partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher recruited in Munich, McGuireWoods hired in London and Winston & Strawn brought in a new Dubai managing partner.

Hogan Lovells have recruited heavyweight antitrust Francois Brunet in Paris, after a 26-year career building Cleary’s antitrust practice. His practice focuses on complex merger cases and cartel investigations.

Hogan Lovell’s global head of antitrust, competition and economic regulation Suyong Kim said Brunet ‘has won the loyalty of clients through his strategic acumen and his capacity to bring innovative solutions to the handling of their antitrust issues’.

Brunet chaired the Competition Commission of the French Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce since 2010, and has been a member of the board of the French Competition Lawyers Association since its creation.

McGuireWoods continued the expansion of its corporate practice in London with the addition of M&A partner Jeremy Davis from K&L Gates.

Davis’ M&A experience has involved US investments in Europe, amid the metals, packaging, manufacturing and information technology sectors. Last year, he advised Cyprus’ leading pharmaceutical company Remedica’s shareholders on their sale to South Africa-based Ascendis Health for €335m.

Chair of McGuireWoods M&A, corporate and technology department Scott Westwood said Davis’ ‘full-service M&A capabilities and extensive cross-border experience strengthen our corporate practice in London to the benefit of our U.S. and European clients’.

Gibson Dunn hired Sebastian Schoon from Ashurst as a financer partner in the firm’s Munich office. Schoon has been a partner at Ashurst since 2011, and his practice focuses on banking and finance law.

‘Following the recent opening of our Frankfurt office, Schoon’s addition will be a vital step in building our transactional practices in Germany,’ said Gibson Dunn’s chairman and managing partner Ken Doran.

Meanwhile over in Dubai, Winston & Strawn took on Eversheds’ UAE managing partner and head of dispute resolution Ben Bruton in the firm’s litigation department in the area.

During his tenure as UAE Managing Partner, Bruton led the development of Eversheds’ Dubai office over a three-year period. His practice involves high value arbitration and court proceedings in the UAE and internationally across sectors like financial services, engineering, energy and infrastructure, real estate, and construction.

Winston’s Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman said his arrival ‘will add significant value as we continue to expand upon the strong business connections between Dubai and other global business hubs to better serve our clients.’

Georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

US financials: Turnover flat at Winston as Goodwin Procter increases revenue by over 5%

US financials: Turnover flat at Winston as Goodwin Procter increases revenue by over 5%

As the latest firm to report its global financial results, Winston & Strawn had revenue growth of less than 1% last year to $823m, while Goodwin Procter saw its revenue increase by 5% to $912m as the firm made a series of lateral hires in 2016.

After a strong 2015, Winston’s profits per equity partner (PEP) last year also rose by 1% to $1.83m, as net income fell by the same amount. The US firm shrunk headcount by 10 lawyers from 808 to 798.

This month, Winston has also made a number of lateral hires globally, most recently taking on 21 partners in Dallas and hiring Shearman & Sterling’s former global chair of tax controversy and litigation Lawrence Hill. The firm also took on King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) finance partner Ian Borman in London in December last year, after making more than 20 job offers to partners of the collapsed EUME arm of KWM.

Meanwhile at Goodwin PEP remained relatively flat at $1.98m, a $10,000 decrease on 2015 as the US firm made a splash in Europe in 2016 taking on a number of notable partners. Goodwin opened in Paris with the hire of six partners in April from KWM. Shearman & Sterling partners Arnaud Fromion and Frederic Guillox also exited their firm for Goodwin’s Paris office in 2016, while in London the firm also confirmed Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley would join following their resignation from Shearman, while the firm’s Frankfurt office also received a boost with the hire of Ashurst tax partner Heiko Penndorf.

Goodwin has continued its growth trajectory in 2017 with the firm confirming the hire of a six partner KWM funds team including influential partner Michael Halford in January, alongside 15 associates and five trainees.

Other US firms which reported earlier this month are Latham & Watkins which saw revenue grow by 7% to $2.8bn as PEP broke the $3m mark for the first time, while Reed Smith’s global revenues fell for the second consecutive year in 2016, by 4% to $1.08bn.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Texas rangers: Gibson Dunn and Winston & Strawn launch new offices in the Lone Star State

Texas rangers: Gibson Dunn and Winston & Strawn launch new offices in the Lone Star State

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Winston & Strawn have both added to their footprints in Texas this week, simultaneously announcing new offices in Houston and Dallas respectively.

Gibson Dunn confirmed yesterday (6 February) that it had opened a new Houston office with eight partners, while Winston & Strawn has taken on 23 new partners from eight different firms and has launched an office in Dallas.

Among Winston’s new hires are Norton Rose Fulbright’s head of US business law, Tom Hughes; six partners from Fish & Richardson, including one made up from of counsel; seven from Dallas firm Locke Lord; three from Jones Day; and one each from Greenberg Traurig, Squire Patton Boggs, K&L Gates and Miller, Egan, Molter & Nelson. The Dallas office will be led by managing partners Bryan Goolsby, who is already with the firm, and Thomas Melsheimer, who joins from Fish & Richardson.

Winston has also picked up two real estate partners, Douglas Yeager and Jeffrey Smith, who will join the firm’s existing Houston office from Locke Lord.

Co-chariman Jeffrey Kessler said: ‘The firm’s ability to complete large lateral acquisitions within a short period of time, attracting prestigious attorneys from different law firms, highlights our commitment to strategic growth and integration within key practice areas and markets.’

Gibson Dunn, meanwhile, is yet to confirm which eight partners will be joining the new office in Houston but said the team would have ‘the full range of energy transactional experience’, covering public and private M&A, asset acquisitions and divestitures, and joint ventures; debt and equity capital markets; finance and restructuring; tax and regulatory matters.

The firm already has a presence in Dallas and office head Rob Walters said: ‘Our new Houston office will be initially focused on energy transactions, but we expect the office to work closely with the Dallas office and other lawyers throughout our firm to attract restructuring, litigation, appellate and regulatory opportunities.’

2016 saw both Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and UK firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) opening in Houston, 13 partners joined Orrick for the launch including McDermott Will & Emery’s global head of energy Blake Winburne, and DLA Piper’s co-chair of global and US patent litigation Claudia Frost. In November HFW confirmed it had taken over eight-partner Houston litigation firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, giving it a US presence.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Middle East moves: Corporate heavyweight Steedman to exit White & Case

Middle East moves: Corporate heavyweight Steedman to exit White & Case

Winston & Strawn has hired Middle East M&A heavyweight Campbell Steedman from White & Case to head up the firm’s practice in the region.

As well as being head of the firm’s Middle East office, Steedman is also responsible for M&A, ECM and corporate finance work across the Middle East, Indian sub-continent and sub-Saharan African regions.

Steedman has 25 years’ experience of working in emerging markets and was previously senior partner of Norton Rose legacy Middle East offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Having moved to White & Case after 13 years at Norton Rose in 2011, Steedman spent five years at the US firm. He has worked on corporate finance work across the Middle East, central Europe, Africa and India.

He takes on the role of Middle East managing partner just over a year after Winston & Strawn swooped for a series of mass hires. The firm launched in the Middle East in March 2015 with the appointment of Stephen Jurgenson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as part of a 15-lawyer hire from the firm. Winston & Strawn also added London-based energy and infrastructure partner James Simpson and New York-based projects head Jeffrey Stern.

Steedman was Norton Rose’s senior Middle East partner until 2011 when the firm suffered a series of departures with four exits from its Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices. Dominic Harvey and Jonathan Brufal both left for Vinson & Elkins and Anthony Pallett also left for Latham & Watkins that year.

Winston & Strawn’s latest financials saw the firm increase global turnover by 4% for 2015/16, up to $818.5m.

matthew.field@legalease.co.uk

Read more on the region in: ‘Running on empty – how to survive in the Middle East in the era of cheap oil’

Legal Business

Winston & Strawn makes double partner hire from Simmons in aviation finance boost

Winston & Strawn makes double partner hire from Simmons in aviation finance boost

US firm Winston & Strawn has swooped on City rival Simmons & Simmons to take aviation finance duo Mark Moody and Christopher Boresjo.

Moody, who has been a partner at Simmons & Simmons for over a decade, is a member of the asset finance and leasing group at the City firm and specialises in cross-border asset financing in the aviation industry. A leading individual in The Legal 500 for asset finance, Moody will arrive at Winston & Strawn before the end of this month.

Moody has worked closely with Boresjo for nearly a decade and their arrival bolsters Winston & Strawn’s finance team. Boresjo’s arrival date is still to be confirmed. The pair will also be joined by associate Manolis Hatziapostolou, who will be promoted to counsel upon joining Winston & Strawn.

The arrival of Moody and Boresjo come as part of a wider play in the finance market. The team hires come a year after Winston & Strawn took 11 partners from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman which saw a large finance team arrive in the US and co-head of energy, infrastructure and projects James Simpson arrive in the City.

Late last year Winston & Strawn rejigged its global executive committee, with London board member and disputes partner Michael Madden replaced by corporate partner Zoe Ashcroft, signalling a shift in focus for the US firm. At the time managing partner Tom Fitzgerald told Legal Business the firm wanted to commit more resources to London and diversify its offering, having previously focused on disputes.

In March the Winston & Strawn lost co-head of arbitration Joe Tirado to Garrigues, which hired the English-qualified lawyer to launch an arbitration practice in London.

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

Winston & Strawn disputes heavyweight joins Garrigues to launch City arbitration team

Winston & Strawn disputes heavyweight joins Garrigues to launch City arbitration team

Garrigues has hired its first English-qualified partner in the City with the arrival of Winston & Strawn‘s co-head of international arbitration, Joe Tirado, to launch its practice in London.

The move sees Tirado become co-head of international arbitration as the firm seeks to provide a London hub for disputes in Latin America, where international arbitration has become commonplace following a series of investor-state disputes stemming from the nationalization of energy assets across the continent in the 1990s. Tirado will join Garrigues’ sole partner in the London office, corporate lawyer Ignacio Corbera. 

Garrigues, which is regarded as one of Spain’s leading law firms alongside Uría Menéndez, has 20 offices across that country but is lightweight in the rest of Europe. Tirado, who was head of international arbitration at Norton Rose before joining Winston & Strawn in 2012, arrives as part of a wider play for Latin American disputes. Garrigues has five offices across Latin America, adding Chile to its network spanning Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Brazil earlier this month through the addition of local firm Avendaño Merino.

A Spanish speaker, Tirado’s practice is largely centred on Latin American disputes and provides a City bridge to Garrigues’ expansion with a huge number of corporate contracts referring disputes to the London Court of International Arbitration. Tirado, a solicitor-advocate with full rights of audience before all English civil courts, will lead the international arbitration practice alongside Madrid-based Carlos de los Santos.

‘I have been impressed by how the firm’s international arbitration has developed, its culture and its plans for future global growth,’ said Tirado.

Santos added: ‘As a highly experienced practitioner and a fluent Spanish speaker, Joe bridges the cultural divide between the common law and civil law traditions perfectly.’

Tirado left Winston & Strawn at the end of January after the firm shifted its attention away from disputes as it sought to build a credible corporate practice, which resulted in the raid of an 11-partner team from US rival Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman at the start of last year. It proved something of a strategy reversal for Winston, which hired Tirado shortly after the high profile arrival of Ashurst’s former disputes managing partner Michael Madden with the firm shutting its arbitration-focused Geneva office last September.

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Winston & Strawn elects corporate partner Ashcroft as London board member as Madden steps down from global executive

Winston & Strawn elects corporate partner Ashcroft as London board member as Madden steps down from global executive

US firm Winston & Strawn has shaken up its global executive committee, and replaced London board member and disputes partner Michael Madden with corporate partner Zoe Ashcroft, signalling a shift in focus for the global 100 firm.

Madden is understood to have stepped down from the 26-partner committee, which handles strategy and governance, in recent weeks but will continue to serve as the managing partner of the firm’s London office.

Ashcroft, who is one of the founding partners of London office, currently heads the firm’s UK and cross border business & finance practice. Ashcroft and Paris managing partner Gilles Bigot are the only European members of the executive committee.

The firm shuffles its executive committee every three years with a nominating committee that assesses a range of candidates. Managing partner Tom Fitzgerald recently told Legal Business the firm was looking to ‘grow and commit resources’ to its City office, as recently evidenced by the hire of project finance partner James Simpson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in March.

Having primarily focused on disputes, the firm is seeking to diversify its offering and Fitzgerald said: ‘We need a larger London office. I don’t believe our clients will allow us to grow our London office, like New York right now is 200 people, we don’t have the client base to grow London to that number but clearly the office has to get bigger just to serve our existing client base.’

Other managerial changes saw the firm elect litigation partner Jeffrey Kessler as co-chair alongside long serving head Dan Webb. Kessler, who recently represented New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in his successful challenge of a National Football League imposed four-game suspension, will serve a three-year term until September 2018 with Webb, who has been leading the firm on his own for the last decade.

Constituting the firm’s first chair from the New York office, which has grown rapidly during 2015, Kessler will serve in other management positions including sitting on the executive committee as chair of the antitrust/competition practice, and as co-chair of the sports law practice.

On his election, Kessler said: ‘Dan and Tom Fitzgerald have led the firm to great global renown during the past decade, and I look forward to working with them to continue building upon this record of outstanding achievement and success.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Strategy reversal sees Winston & Strawn shut 22-year old Geneva office to focus on London and Paris

Strategy reversal sees Winston & Strawn shut 22-year old Geneva office to focus on London and Paris

After more than two decades operating in the Swiss city, Winston & Strawn is to shut its Geneva office at the end of September as the firm looks to service arbitration work from London and Paris.

The US firm’s 23-partner executive committee, the only body within the firm that has the power to open and close offices, undertook a review of the Geneva office and decided to close the five-lawyer outpost from 30 September. London managing partner Michael Madden and Paris managing partner Gilles Bigot are the only European members of the governance body.

Spearheaded by office managing partner Ricardo Ugarte and centred on international arbitration, the office turns a profit but the committee does not view Geneva as a growth prospect due to the centralisation of Europe-based arbitration work in London, where the firm’s global co-head of international arbitration Joseph Tirado resides. The firm’s standing in the Swiss city also took a hit when then Geneva managing partner Marc Palay left in 2010 to join Sidley Austin as global co-head of international arbitration.

The firm said in a statement to Legal Business: ‘Winston & Strawn has decided to consolidate its European international arbitration resources into its London and Paris offices. Accordingly, the partners of its Geneva office will continue to serve existing and future clients from those locations. This will allow the firm to provide more efficient and cost effective service to clients. As a result, the firm will close its Geneva office on September 30, 2015.’

Franz Stirnimann, who returned to Winston & Strawn’s Geneva office as a partner three years ago following a stint at local firm Lalive, is the firm’s other partner in Geneva. Winston & Strawn is seeking to relocate US-qualified Ugarte and Stirnimann, with the latter also able to practice in England and Wales. Ugarte already splits his time between Geneva and Chicago.

Geneva’s closure will leave the firm with just four European offices, with Paris and London processing the bulk of the region’s work and small outposts operating in Moscow and Brussels. Paris and London house 20 partners between them, with London up to nine following the addition of James Simpson through Winston & Strawn’s 19-partner raid on Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Thomas Fitzgerald, managing partner at Winston & Strawn, told Legal Business: ‘We regularly look at the intersection of our clients’ needs and our practices and locations. With the increase in international arbitrations being brought in London and Paris, it made sense to reallocate our resources to better fit the current environment. We believe this approach will create greater efficiency for the firm and our clients.’

Few international law firms have ventured to Geneva, despite decades of internationalisation, and those that did enter the city seeking to capture international arbitration and World Trade Organization disputes work have often found it difficult to grow beyond a small team of lawyers. Nonetheless, Winston & Strawn’s US rival Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe became one of a handful of global firms to enter Geneva with a one-partner arbitration launch in June. This followed the closure of two of its four German offices and a reduction in the size of its European presence.

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Winston & Strawn pulls in corporate and finance teams

Winston & Strawn pulls in corporate and finance teams

Mass hire from Pillsbury sees 15 partners defect.

Winston & Strawn, which had been looking to bolster its finance and corporate teams, pulled it off in a single move last month by hiring 15 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman partners across five offices. The bulk of the hires were senior figures, including global finance chief Mats Carlston and London-based co-head of energy, infrastructure and projects, James Simpson.