Weekly Update – 14th of August 2023

Moves:

UK & Ireland

One in One Out at MoFo as London Hiring Market Hots Up

The latest moves follow a wash of partner activity that signifies growing confidence in London’s hiring market. Morrison Foerster’s London office has parted ways with a finance partner who joins McDermott, Will & Emery, but has gained a senior tech partner. Partner Vlad Maly is leaving the firm after over seven years to join rival U.S. outfit McDermott, expanding the firm’s London transaction offering.

BNP Paribas’ UK Disputes Head Joins Norton Rose Fulbright

The latest hire is also the President of the UK’s Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Alison Kellett joins the firm as a partner. At BNP Paribas, she also headed up the bank’s Channel Islands region, and oversaw legal investigations and litigation and legal financial security, according to NRF’s statement.

Mishcon Partner Exits for CMS in London

Neil Baylis has joined CMS’ antitrust, competition and trade practice. He leaves Mishcon after four and a half years with the firm as a partner, having joined from K&L Gates in 2019.

EMEA

Reed Smith Frankfurt Founding Partner Moves to Deloitte

Simon Grieser joins the Big Four giant as a partner next month. He will join as a partner on September 1, 2023 and will advise in particular credit and financial services institutions as well as national and international investors, and will also work closely with the corporate and litigation service lines.

Jones Day Adds Veteran Baker McKenzie Partner in Munich

Michael Bartosch brings almost two decades of experience to the firm. The veteran partner joins Jones Day’s corporate practice, which, according to the firm, brings together its transactional work worldwide, encompassing mergers and acquisitions and private equity.

White & Case Doha Managing Partner Walks to Mayer Brown

The partner had been with White & Case for nearly 20 years, and had been managing partner of its Doha office since 2020. Anne Wicks had been with White & Case since 2004, and relocated from the firm’s London office to its Abu Dhabi base in 2013. She became managing partner of White & Case’s Doha office in June 2020, according to a person with knowledge of the hire.

APAC

Another Partner Leaves PwC Legal, Joins DLA Piper

DLA Piper has hired renewables partner Luke Westmore from PwC, the second Australian partner to leave the beleaguered accounting giant this month. Westmore, who joins DLA’s projects and infrastructure team in Sydney, has 15 years’ of experience in large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia and internationally. His clients are a mix of international and Australian companies.

Australia’s Gilbert + Tobin Adds Ashurst Renewable Energy Lawyer to Partnership

Strong demand for projects and infrastructure lawyers. Australian corporate law firm Gilbert + Tobin has hired Ashurst lawyer Lixian Liang to join the partnership in its energy and infrastructure team in Sydney.

Atsumi & Sakai, White & Case, Baker McKenzie Add New Partners Across Asia

Most of the hires have been promoted into partnership at their new firms. Tokyo-based Atsumi & Sakai has bolstered its mergers and acquisitions, and labor and employment offerings with the hire of Tomotaka Tokuno, who was most recently an associate at Allen & Overy, as an of counsel.

Clyde & Co Cuts 10 Lawyers in Australia as Economy Slows

In addition to the 10, the firm has also parted ways with an insurance partner of seven years.

The Americas

Paul Weiss Lands Wilson Sonsini Antitrust Head in DC

Scott Sher said his practice has remained “busy on all fronts” in the current regulatory environment.

Akin Hires Chair of Lowenstein’s Emerging Managers Practice

Max Karpel, who joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner in New York on Monday, represents emerging and established investment managers and also has a family office practice.

Lateral Partner Moves in Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville Increasing

”Atlanta has really matured as a legal market. I think very clearly now it is a major legal market.” said Decipher chief data officer Greg Hamman.

California Trial Boutique Launches Austin Office With DLA Piper Team

Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg tapped trial lawyer Amy Ruhland to lead the new office.

Hogan Lovells Partner Trio Jumps to Alston’s Litigation Team

Each new partner has a practice consisting of longtime clients, “which we believe will follow the team to Alston & Bird,” James Sullivan, the partner in charge of Alston’s New York office, said. Michael Hefter, Seth Cohen and Ryan Philp moved from Hogan Lovells to Alston as partners in its litigation and trial practice group.

King & Spalding Taps Sidley Antitrust Co-Head to Lead Global Practice

Sean Royall will have a presence in the firm’s Houston, DC and Brussels offices as he looks to expand its global antitrust and consumer protection practice.

On the Move: Nelson Mullins Expands REIT Practice, Jones Day Adds White Collar Defense Lawyer

Howard Hirsch joined Nelson Mullins’ REIT practice, while Jill Keller Hengen moved from King & Spalding to Jones Day’s investigations and white collar defense practice.

Freshfields Lands Schulte Litigation Co-Head

Gayle Klein, the litigation co-head at Schulte Roth & Zabel, has decamped for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, joining the firm’s U.S. dispute resolution practice in New York as a partner.

Allen & Overy Hits Paul Hastings for US Energy Private Equity Head

The partner joins ahead of A&O’s tie-up with Shearman & Sterling. Kfir Abutbul has joined A&O as head of its U.S. energy private equity and a partner in its U.S. corporate private equity and M&A practice.

In-House

Coca-Cola In-House Leader Picked as World Cup 2026 General Counsel

Curtis Franks announced his hiring Monday morning on LinkedIn, writing “Looking forward to being a part of the largest sporting event ever!” Since March, FIFA has been scouting for a general counsel, a role it calls “high-profile and demanding.”

Auto-Parts Giant Fills CLO Post by Hiring Alum

For the second time in her career, MaryAnn Kanary has come back to a firm where she previously worked to become legal chief.

27-Year Lloyd’s of London Veteran Steps Down as GC to ‘Pursue Fresh Challenges’

The insurance and reinsurance marketplace has appointed Claire Schrader, a 23-year Lloyd’s employee, to serve as interim general counsel while it seeks a success for the departing Peter Spires.

Ex-Tegna GC Takes Legal Reins at Global PR Firm FGS

Akin Harrison, who left Tegna in June after its $5.4 billion sale fell through, is joining a New York-based PR powerhouse formed through the merger of four firms last year.

Promotions & Appointments:

Potter Anderson Partner Elected Vice Chair of Delaware College of Art & Design Board of Trustees

Joy A. Barrist, a partner in Potter Anderson & Corroon’s real estate group, has recently been elected vice chair of the Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) board of trustees.

Viet Dinh Exiting as Fox Legal Chief, Will Receive $23M Payout

Dinh is leaving after a tumultuous year in which the company paid $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit.

Baker McKenzie Promotes London Partner to EMEA Chair

The firm has also appointed its Stockholm managing partner to its executive committee. Kirsty Wilson, a corporate partner with over 30 years experience, will assume the role later this summer, according to a person with knowledge of the promotion. She continues in her roles on the firm’s executive committee as well as its global inclusion, diversity and equity committee, according to a statement from the firm.

Mergers & Alliances:

Dentons Ends Dacheng Combination in China

The breakup is due to an evolving regulatory environment for Chinese law firms in China including new mandates and requirements relating to data privacy, cybersecurity, capital control and governance.

Will More U.S. Firms Need to Follow Dentons in Backing Away From China?

The country’s heightened national security focus, among other geopolitical issues, could prompt the mass withdrawal of international law firms.

Shearman, Simpson Guide KKR’s $1.6B Buy of Simon & Schuster

While most of the chatter around Shearman has been around its pending merger with A&O, the firm is still doing the good work while the vote looms.

Office Openings & Closing:

Schnader Partners Vote to Formalize Dissolution Plan

The firm’s wind-up committee will be led by current managing partner and executive committee member Theresa Loscalzo, former firm CEO and chairman David Smith, and the firm’s general counsel and DEI co-chair Keith Whitson.

Schnader Set to Close Doors at End of August

“We have this month now to hopefully have partners transfer [to other firms] with their books of business, hopefully taking staff with them,” said Duane Morris partner Les Corwin, who’s overseeing the dissolution effort.

Japanese Law Firm Launches in India

The Bar Council of India (BCI) announced in March this year the liberalization of the Indian legal market after more than two decades of restrictions.

Financials:

Countercyclical Work Elevates Most of Legal Industry in Q2

Overall demand at midsize firms was up 3.7%, while Am Law 100 (0.3%) and Second Hundred (0.2%) firms are still below 1%.

Big Law and Midsize Firms Are Charting Different Paths to Growth

Am Law 100 firms have tried to cut head count and expenses, midsize firms have sought to bolster revenue, and the Second Hundred have sought “to find a Goldilocks zone between the two,” says a new report.

CMS Sees Slowdown in Global Revenue Growth

The firm has promoted a record number of partners globally over the past year. CMS has reported a global revenue growth of 6.2%, a reduced figure on the 18% growth made by the firm in 2022. The international law firm’s global revenue now stands at €1.86 billion—up from €1.75 billion recorded the year before.

Technology & Innovation:

Spain May Be an Emerging AI Hotspot, Leading the Way for a Spike in Cross-Border M&A

Spain’s artificial intelligence market has flown under the radar. But with several homegrown AI startups likely to excel in Spanish-speaking countries, U.S. tech companies sense acquisition opportunities.

Can AI Help Law Firms Solve the Boom-Bust Hiring Cycle?

“Most law firms typically haven’t used a lot of data in these decisions,” one lawyer said. “But increasingly, I think they’ll make investments to enable the use of data regarding how associates work and are deployed to solve for one variable in the demand equation.”

Dentons Head of Innovation on Why and How the Firm Built Its Own Gen AI Chatbot

Legaltech News caught up with Joe Cohen, UKIME head of innovation at Dentons to discuss fleetAI, the firm’s newly released proprietary version of ChatGPT.

Filevine Launches ImmigrationAI, Using AI to Help Streamline Document Filing

The AI-powered document filing tool is meant to cut down on time and redundancies for immigration attorneys filing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration forms for their clients.

Opus 2 Launches Transaction Management Platform, Focusing on M&A Work Collaboration, Management

The new offering is built on the same technology leveraged by the Opus 2 Case Management platform.

The Intersection of Generative AI and Copyright Law

Whether prompted to write a corporate slogan, create music, generate works of art and advertisements, or summarize a book — GAI can do it all. However, its increasing popularity means that users of GAI programs face substantial intellectual property risks — particularly when businesses use GAI for marketing and other public-facing purposes.

Inside Track: How to Grasp AI’s Legal Landscape and Not Have Your Head Explode

“Regulating a misleading claim published in a newspaper in 1914 entails the same analysis as regulating a misleading claim about the capabilities of a company’s AI,” Holland & Knight said in a report on how the Federal Trade Commission will oversee the emerging industry.

Diversity & Inclusion:

‘Landmines Everywhere’ for Employers’ DEI Programs, Prompting Big Law Response

Three major law firms have announced the formation of industry groups to address rising DEI scrutiny in the wake of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.

A Slippery Slope: The Erosion of DEI in the Legal Profession and Beyond

There are three developments that should be particularly troubling to those who value the smorgasbord of ideas generated when collaborating with colleagues from varied backgrounds: the end of affirmative action in education; the banning of books in schools; and the censorship of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Gender Diversity: Firms Must Jump Off the Bandwagon and Focus on What Works

Next 100 Years founder and former lawyer Dana Denis-Smith calls for a more strategic look at diversity initiatives, focusing on the changes that make a real difference.

Market Commentary:

Five Indicators Mediation Is at a Tipping Point

More and more, countries, courts and states are turning to mediation to solve more complex disputes due to its collaborative, cost-effective, and confidential process. It allows all parties greater control over the outcome and greater speed to resolution. Mediation is proven to help courts decrease case backlogs and help businesses resolve legal disputes quickly and efficiently.

The Staying Power of Small and Midsize Firms

For the firms that seek to maintain long-term independence, remaining true to who they are and their original goals helps ensure their staying power, allowing them to remain a consistent partner to clients.

As More Partners Leave, Stroock Votes to End Pension Obligation

A five-partner restructuring team is the latest to leave Stroock for Morgan Lewis. Meanwhile, the New York firm said it has secured the votes needed to end its pension obligation, removing an obstacle for a merger.

Ethics and the Razzle Dazzle of Seeking ‘More Time’

How far can attorneys go to get an adjournment from a judge, even where extra time is in the client’s best interests or where the client simply wants a postponement, before they could face disciplinary action?

Dechert to Let Current Summers Defer Start Date to Fall 2025

Up to 20 associates can chose to “explore, study, travel or experience another opportunity.”

The Hidden Reason Behind Big Law’s Layoffs

It is too easy to blame all the job cuts on market conditions, there is something else going on and it is more worrying for juniors, writes the Global Lawyer.

West Coast Big Law Associate Deferrals ‘Bleed Into East Coast’

“The largest driver of cost savings would stem from a reduction in the size of a firm’s new associate class,” Decipher’s Greg Hamman said.

Kirkland Is Now the Largest ‘New York’ Law Firm by Attorney Count as Big Apple Offices Saw Head Count Gains

Even in a down year for cap markets and M&A, Big Law in New York still added head count.

In Big Law, ‘Flexibility’ Is A Word For All Seasons

“I’m starting to hear ‘flexibility’ along with just being thoughtful about how do you become a bit more rigid about mandating people to come in?” noted Williams Lea’s Joe McSpadden.

Quinn Emanuel, Fried Frank Tell UK Lawyers to WFH Throughout August

The firms are continuing a new, mostly US-firm-led tradition of allowing staff to work remotely during the summer.

What’s Next for the Saudi Regional Headquarters Program?

As the Saudi government looks to attract multinational groups to the Kingdom, Marco De Leo, managing partner of BonelliErede’s Dubai office, considers what they should be mindful of.

London Legal Recruitment Market Suffering Quietest Spell For Years

‘M&A is down, so roles are down,’ say recruiters and partners, as research shows a steep drop in hiring.

How a Rupture Tore Right Through East-West Law Firms

The East-West political rupture is particularly consequential for Dentons’ brand. But this doesn’t mean that other international law firms won’t be thinking about China on a constitutional level, argues The Global Lawyer.

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