Revolving Doors: HSF and SJ Berwin hire finance management team as Covington and Cleary bring in litigation partners


Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has filled its two most senior finance slots with the hire of Kirkland and Ellis finance chief Nick Willmott as its new chief financial officer (CFO) and Paul Roberts from BDO as its finance director.

Wilmott, who will join HSF in September, will be responsible for overseeing integration at the recently merged firm from the perspective of the global business finance function. He has been at Chicago-based Kirkland since 2004, before which he held senior finance positions at Pepsi and real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, where much of his work was focused on merger integration. Continue reading “Revolving Doors: HSF and SJ Berwin hire finance management team as Covington and Cleary bring in litigation partners”

SJ Berwin creates new COO role with hire of McKinsey’s Baumgartner

Top 25 City firm SJ Berwin has announced the hire of Rick Baumgartner as the firm’s first-ever chief operating officer (COO). Baumgartner will join on September 9 from leading management consultancy group McKinsey & Company.

Baumgartner has over ten years’ experience with McKinsey, prior to which he worked at the Australian stock exchange and has held senior roles at accountancy giants Ernst & Young and Deloitte. Continue reading “SJ Berwin creates new COO role with hire of McKinsey’s Baumgartner”

Litigation watch: SJ Berwin wins IP battle for Sky against Microsoft


SJ Berwin has scored a significant victory in the important tech area of intellectual property rights in cloud data storage, successfully representing broadcaster Sky on its successful trade mark infringement claim against US software giant Microsoft.

In a dispute dating back to 2011, the High Court ruled last week that the IT giant’s ‘SkyDrive’ cloud service infringed Sky’s brand in the UK and Europe. Sky had filed a claim over a breach of UK and Community trade marks following Microsoft’s use of ‘SkyDrive’ for cloud storage solution. Continue reading “Litigation watch: SJ Berwin wins IP battle for Sky against Microsoft”

To soar or crash with an Asian giant

If you are going to finally do a global merger, it would be fitting for one of the most distinctive City practices to hook up with the great outlier of the Global 100. That is what is on the agenda for SJ Berwin as it this summer mulls an outline deal to combine with King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), the ground-breaking union between the top commercial law firms in China and Australia.

And what an outlier KWM is. When large mergers happen in the profession, a received wisdom among clients and peers soon takes hold. But since KWM was formed in March 2012, creating a 2,100-lawyer Asia-Pacific giant, consensus has resolutely failed to emerge. For some, it is a world-beater with an unmatchable position in the most powerful economic region of the 21st century. For others, it is a desperate act by two firms who had saturated their domestic markets and faced the awkward reality that their businesses won’t easily go global. After all, Australian and People’s Republic of China law travels badly and the increasingly heavily-lawyered and fee-sensitive Asia-Pacific region is currently struggling to live up to expectations.

Continue reading “To soar or crash with an Asian giant”

SJ Berwin reveals turnover increase of 2% as partnership expansion hits PEP


SJ Berwin has become the latest leading UK law firm to release its 2012-13 financial results, with its unaudited accounts revealing an increase in revenue of 2% to £184.6m, exceeding last year’s growth figure of 1.1% to £180.1m.

Profit figures have yet to finalised but early indications suggest that net profit has risen slightly at the top 25 UK firm, although profits per equity (PEP) partner have contracted by up to 10% in light of expansion to the partnership over the past year, falling from £635,000 to around £570,000. Continue reading “SJ Berwin reveals turnover increase of 2% as partnership expansion hits PEP”

SJ Berwin pays out delayed partner profits

As partnerships continue to take a cautious approach to profit distribution, SJ Berwin has confirmed that it has released profits that it withheld in February.

The firm’s profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 1% between 2011 and 2012 to £635,000 with revenues up 1% to £180.1m. According to the firm, the February distribution was held back as a matter of caution in light of a large tax bill in January.

The practice is becoming increasingly commonplace – in March, Field Fisher Waterhouse withheld their partner distribution, citing the firm’s investment plans as the reason for the delay. The firm saw its PEP drop by 16% in 2011/12 to £434,000 against a revenue increase of 4% to £97.6m.

Continue reading “SJ Berwin pays out delayed partner profits”

SJ Berwin is latest international arrival in Luxembourg


SJ Berwin announced the opening of its twelth office in Luxembourg at the start of the year, in what was described as an ‘obvious’ choice of jurisdiction for the firm given the strength of its European fund formation practice.

The firm launched its office through the hire of two new partners: former Allen & Overy (A&O) lawyer Alexandrine Armstrong-Cerfontaine and tax specialist Geoffrey Scardoni, from Benelux firm Loyens & Loeff. Armstrong-Cerfontaine said the new office would focus on corporate, finance, private equity, funds and tax, and concentrate on building its relationships across the region.

Continue reading “SJ Berwin is latest international arrival in Luxembourg”