2022 In Review:
Major teams and star individuals moved firms throughout the year, with exits still grabbing the market in the final weeks of 2022. There has been no let up when it comes to talent moves within the U.K.’s legal industry in 2022, with both individual partners and teams in hot demand. Hiring kept up pace throughout the year, with some major partner moves occurring just in recent weeks.
Dozens of law firm heads have opened up about the biggest issues they faced this year. In the 12 months prior, firms had turned record profits as the industry bounced back from successive lockdowns, the deal market had never been in ruder health—M&A soared, IPOs flowed—the ‘new normal’ of hybrid working soon seemed old, and corporate lawyers reaped the benefits. But no law firm leader could have predicted the trouble that lay ahead. In February, Russia invaded Ukraine, adding fuel to a developing pandemic-driven energy crisis that continues to rattle the world, with recession and stagflation stalking. A dissatisfaction was rising among people on both sides of the return-to-office debate and a shortage of lawyers was pushing wages even higher.
Technology, media and telecommunications will continue to be the most appealing sector for cross-border deals, according to a new report from Dentons Canada and Mergermarket. The “Shifting Tides of Cross-border M&A,” released this week, showed 72% of U.S./Canada respondents and 93% of their peers outside North America predict they’ll be involved in transactions in the TMT sector. Financial services, cited by just over half the respondents, was the next most popular industry, followed by pharma, medical and biotech (PMB).
UK & Ireland
Clyde & Co’s former senior partner is leaving the firm. Simon Konsta will leave Clydes for DAC Beachcroft next year. Konsta was the senior partner of Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) from 2008 until Clydes merged with the insurance firm in 2011. That same year, Konsta was appointed Clydes’ global head of insurance.
Several lateral hires have been made by international law firms in Dublin as the year end approaches, as a number of outfits continue bolstering their ranks. Pinsent Masons has been hit again for its talent in the city, with the exit of intellectual property partner Michael Finn to fellow London-headquartered Bird & Bird.
McDermott Will & Emery has bolstered its private equity offering in Paris with the hire of a team from Dentons led by partner Guillaume Panuel. Panuel has joined the firm along with associates Houda Bourrich, Agathe Marcelin and Bréa Kamtcheu. McDermott said the team brought extensive fund structuring experience and would develop secondary transactions capabilities in collaboration with its existing private equity team, which in Paris comprises 10 partners and nearly 50 lawyers.
Eversheds Sutherland has hired a founding partner of a Dutch boutique for its Amsterdam office as part of its strategy to boost its litigation offer. Marie-Hélène co-founded the Amsterdam-based boutique firm TOON Advocaten in 2020 and which advises on employment law and civil law. Before joining TOON Advocaten, Berghuijs worked as a senior litigation associate at Rutgers & Posch, according to her LinkedIn profile. She spent nine years as an associate at the Benelux firm Stibbe prior to that.
Clyde & Co has hired a senior M&A partner to its Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, in the latest boost to its global corporate & advisory practice. Mohamed Barakat joins from Baker McKenzie, where he was a longtime corporate partner. He is a U.S.-qualified lawyer with more than 17 years’ experience working in the U.S. and the Middle East, according to the firm’s statement. He advises clients on complex M&A and restructuring transactions in the energy, financial services, infrastructure and real estate sectors.
Cooley has expanded its cross-border strategic investment advisory capabilities in Asia with the hire of corporate partner Ruomu Li from Morrison & Foerster for its Shanghai office. Li has a legal career spanning more than 15 years specializing in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, private equity deals and venture capital investments, with a particular focus on global technology and life sciences markets.
International law firm Ashurst has hired real estate partner Kitty Vo for its Sydney office as it seeks to expand its offering to developer and investor clients. The hire is a return to Ashurst for Vo, who spent 14 years at the firm before joining Australian firm Hall & Wilcox as a partner in 2019.
Life sciences business consulting and services company Trinity Life Sciences has added in-house veteran Paul Lucchese as its first general counsel. Lucchese has joined the Waltham, Massachussetts-based company after seven years as vice president and general counsel at software development company EnterpriseDB and brings 30 years’ in-house legal experience at technology companies.
London fintech company Hi Group has added a senior finance lawyer with experience at international firms including McGuireWoods, White & Case and Mayer Brown as its general counsel. Cullinane has joined the startup, which offers a service financing companies’ payrolls to boost their liquidity and provide employees with flexible access to their pay, having most recently led the EMEA finance group at US law firm McGuireWoods’ London office.
Promotions & Appointments:
O’Melveny has elevated 11 lawyers to partner across the US in its latest promotions round, which is dominated by litigators. The round is a slight dip on last year, when the firm elevated 13, and unlike in 2021, when there were promotions in the firm’s offices in Beijing and Shanghai, this cohort includes only US lawyers.
Seyfarth has announced that Lorie Almon is to be its next chair and managing partner, making her the first woman to lead the firm in its 77-year history. Almon, a partner in labour and employment, will initially serve as chair-elect alongside current chair and managing partner Pete Miller prior to his stepping down in the second half of 2023.
Mason Hayes & Curran has elected the head of its financial services team to succeed veteran managing partner Declan Black. Will Carmody will begin his three-year term 1 January 2023 at the end of Black’s nine years at the helm, during which the firm more than doubled revenue and size to become one of Ireland’s largest law firms by lawyer headcount and opened its fourth office globally in San Francisco.
Sidley Austin has announced its round of partner promotions for 2022, unveiling a record number of additions to its partnership. A total of 44 lawyers have been elected partners, the majority of which are based across the firm’s U.S. offices, including nine at its Chicago headquarters. The total, the firm’s largest partnership class, marks an increase from last year’s 42. In 2020 it promoted 28.
Norton Rose Fulbright has tapped Scott Atkins, the firm’s Australia chair, to serve as global chair effective Jan. 1, 2023, succeeding London partner Farmida Bi in that global leadership role. Atkins, who will serve a one-year term as global chair, will continue as chair in Australia, global co-head of the restructuring team, and the Australian head of risk advisory.
Herbert Smith Freehills has become the latest firm to appoint a female leader in Australia, with the announcement that Sydney intellectual property partner Kristen Stammer will become executive partner Asia and Australia next year. Stammer, who has been with the firm for 25 years, will succeed incumbent Andrew Pike on May 1 next year.
Mergers & Alliances:
The London office of Anglo-Scottish boutique Dickson Minto has secured a US deal with Milbank after talks with Fried Frank fizzled out. Dickson Minto’s London team will be joining Milbank’s City operations, led by Suhrud Mehta and Julian Stait. The Edinburgh office of Dickson Minto will remain independent.
Office Openings & Closing:
A former partner at UK magic circle firm Allen & Overy (A&O) has launched a business and human rights focused boutique in London with a team of seven other lawyers, including a trio who were previously at A&O. The new firm, named Paxus, will offer strategy, due diligence and dispute resolution services to corporate and government clients in the areas of international law, international arbitration and transnational law.
Mayer Brown is opting for a more “efficient” Frankfurt office as it plans a move to the city’s banking district, as several international law firms review their real estate offerings. The U.S. headquartered firm is slightly trimming the space it currently occupies, from 5100 sq m to 4700 sq m, for the move in early 2024.
Australian law firm Mills Oakley is to open an office in Adelaide after poaching a real estate partner from corporate law firm MinterEllison to lead the new office. The firm already has several lawyers based in Adelaide and said the hire of Stephen Hill has provided the impetus for a permanent office which is expected to have 15 lawyers and staff at launch.
Technology & Innovation:
Companies developing or using artificial intelligence systems in the European Union need to act now to mitigate the risk of bias ahead of new regulation.
Diversity & Inclusion:
A panel at the Law Firm Marketing Summit explored how the legal profession should respond to the need for businesses to deliver more than just profits
Globalization isn’t dead, but it is evolving. The Global Lawyer looks at how the legal industry is adapting as governments increase protectionist measures, as well as how sometimes the changes that occur in the industry seem as if they were a long time coming.
Newly released recommendations in a report titled “Towards a Health and Sustainable Practice of Law in Canada” call on law schools and firms to better prepare young lawyers psychologically for the stresses of legal practice. Key recommendations include better mental health training in universities and doing away with the billable hour for lawyers in their first two years of practice.
Ukrainian Legal Developments:
The creation of the new firm, called Nextons, completes a plan announced by Dentons in March following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Dentons will complete the spin-off of its Russian practice effective Jan. 1, 2023, with the creation of an independent law firm under a new name, Nextons. Present in the country for more than 30 years, with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Dentons originally announced in March that it planned to separate from its Russian operations following the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.