UK & Ireland
A Ropes & Gray London partner has left the firm after nearly four years, The Lawyer has learned. Carol Van der Vorst has exited the US firm’s finance group, having joined in 2018.
Kate Davies QC joins Skadden from the magic circle firm, where she has spent the last nine years. She was promoted to partner in 2016 and started out her career at WilmerHale.
DLA Piper has hired two tax partners from Pinsent Masons in London, including its tax litigation head. Partners Stuart Walsh and Clara Boyd will join the firm’s tax practice on August 8, leaving Pinsent Masons after over a decade at the outfit.
Winfried Carli was a long-term Shearman lawyer, spending 22 years at his previous firm before joining Goodwin’s Munich outpost.
Watson Farley & Williams is forming a new dispute resolution practice in Madrid just weeks after the firm launched the same practice in Paris. The firm has hired Baker McKenzie partner Victor Mercedes to head the practice.
Goodwin Procter has hired Shearman & Sterling finance partner Winfried (“Winni”) Carli for its private equity practice in its Munich office, which was opened earlier this year.
Squire Patton Boggs has expanded its data privacy practice on the East Coast with the addition of two lawyers from Arent Fox Schiff and BakerHosteler. Julia Jacobson joins Squire from Arent Fox as a partner in New York, while Shea Leitch joins as of counsel from BakerHosteler in Washington DC.
Norton Rose Fulbright has hired veteran corporate lawyer Rajiv Khanna from US national firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney to bolster its cross-border transactions team. Khanna joins as a partner in the firm’s New York office where his practice will focus on M&A deals and special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) work. He regularly advises clients in the tech and life sciences sectors on cross-border M&A, securities offerings, corporate finance matters, project finance and real estate.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has hired Baker McKenzie’s former global chief information officer to take up the CIO role at BCLP. Dan Surowiec joins in Chicago, bringing with him more than a decade of experience as a CIO and vast expertise in designing and delivering technology systems to support the provision of legal services.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has hired longtime Baker McKenzie global chief information officer Dan Surowiec to serve as its next CIO, rejoining his former colleague Jason Marty, who came aboard as the trans-Atlantic firm’s chief operations officer in 2020.
Afro-Brazilian lawyers have long been underrepresented in the legal field in Brazil. But Mattos Filho is trying to change that. The firm has hired nine Black lawyers, who will join seven different practice areas.
Stella Castro joins in São Paulo from Pessoa Advogados, where she was also a partner.
Sara Mackie has joined Elida Beauty after eight years at French Connection.
Lisa Sewell stepped down from her post in March 2022 and has now joined FTSE 100 Irish betting and gaming company Flutter Entertainment. She is the business’ new chief people and operations officer.
Promotions & Appointments:
Spencer Collins has been named in the role after five months of being the business’ interim general counsel.
Top 50 UK listed law firm Ince is parting company with its chief executive and embarking on an £8.6m fund raising as it responds to ‘financial difficulties’ fuelled by the impact of Covid-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a costly cyber attack.
The Paris Arbitration Week association (PAW) has reshuffled its leadership by adding a trio of new members to its board for three-year terms. Diamana Diawara, Elsa Paparemborde and Vanessa Thieffry join the existing members of the board, replacing Yasmin Mohammad, Alexander Fessas and Clément Fouchard, whose terms ended this year. Mohammad, Fessas and Fouchard are founding members of PAW, having served on the board since the organisation was established in 2020.
Real estate and private wealth law firm Forsters has appointed property litigation partner Natasha Rees as senior partner ahead of a move to new London headquarters next year. Rees is set to begin the role in September and succeeds Smita Edwards, who is stepping down after eight years at the helm.
King & Spalding has appointed a new Singapore managing partner as the firm continues its push to diversify its sector expertise in the city-state. Debt finance and restructuring partner Andrew Brereton, who joined the firm in 2019, will take on the new role, succeeding project finance lawyer Kelly Malone.
WeirFoulds, a mid-size Canadian law firm, has decided that two co-managing partners are better than one. Denise Baker will join Wayne Egan as the new Co-Managing Partner. Wayne has acted as the Managing Partner since he was appointed to the position in 2018.
Covington & Burling has appointed an arbitration partner with roots in Chile to lead its Latin America initiative after the group’s former regional practice head decamped for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Nicole Duclos will coordinate efforts related to the region alongside the co-chairs of Covington’s Latin America practice.
Office Openings & Closing:
UK law firm Kennedys had hired a trio of energy insurance partners from local rivals to open its ninth US office, in Houston. Doug Wheat, formerly of Wheat Oppermann, has joined alongside Candace Ourso and Callie Murphy, both from Schouest Bamdas Soshea & BenMaier. Associate Amanda Farley has also moved over from Wheat Oppermann.
Specialist insurance law firm Wotton + Kearney has poached an eight-member team from Australian firm Sparke Helmore to open a new office in Australia’s capital, Canberra, as it expands following a recent private equity investment. Catherine Power and her team will join the firm on Monday as it seeks more government work.
Withers is offering a one-off payment of £1,000 to staff to help with the increase in the cost of living, as other firms reveal additional wage boosts for their staff. In addition to Withers’ one-off pay bump, Freeths has boosted salaries for fee-earners and non-fee earners in the firm, while also handing out all-staff bonuses.
The firm’s PEP has grown from £1.91m to £2.07m, while the firm said turnover had risen by 10 per cent to £1.7bn on constant exchange rates. For 2020/21, however, The Lawyer reported a revenue of £1.59bn for Freshfields, which equates to a 7 per cent rise.
Revenue at Leeds-based Walker Morris grew 10 per cent over 2021/22, as the firm sets its sights on achieving £70m in turnover within the next two years. The firm reached £60.7m over 2021/22, a jump on results reported the previous financial year. While turnover grew from £55.2m to just under £61m, the firm’s net profit has increased by a similar amount of 11.5 per cent. This took it from £22.6m in 2020/21 to £25.2m for the last financial year.
Fieldfisher’s profit per equity partner (PEP) has hit £1.05m after increasing 22 per cent in 2021/22 from £860,000 in the previous year. Elsewhere, the firm’s UK revenue has jumped up 17 per cent and firm-wide revenue has grown by 15 per cent – increasing to a total revenue of £330m.
The firm has seen its average profit per equity partner increase from £2.085m to £2.484m, a 19 per cent increase over the year. Turnover is up 16 per cent from £261m to £303.7m, while operating profit has jumped 15 per cent to £164.2m. Last year, the firm reported single-digit percentage rises in revenue and PEP. Operating profit rose by 12 per cent in 2020/21.
Kingsley Napley has reported a 17 per cent rise in revenue for 2021/22, a significant increase from the previous financial year, which saw a 2 per cent drop. The firm reported a rise from £47.1m to £55.2m, the highest in its history. Managing partner Linda Woolley was re-elected for another three-year term in May 2022, and she has held the role since 2007.
Shepherd and Wedderburn has reported 5% growth in fee income in the year to 30 April against a moderate 3% rise in net profit. The increases have seen revenue at the Edinburgh-based firm, which does not disclose profit per equity partner, hit £62.2m as profit reached £26m.
Chief legal offices and GCs in the UK take home base salaries that are around $60,000 lower than the global average. Pay has also been rising at a much slower clip in the broader Europe, Middle East and Africa region, with salary growth hitting just 2% since 2020 compared to 15% in the US. GCs in EMEA and Asia Pacific earn $354,000 a year on average in total compensation (including bonuses), compared to $578,000 in the US. Part of the reason for that disparity is down to the elevated role GCs have in US boardrooms compared to the UK.
The Big Law arms race for top attorneys has been a defining feature of the legal industry lately. But many law firm leaders still aren’t totally sure how to reconcile the rising cost of talent with the need to stay profitable. As a result, analysts say, the cost of legal services could continue rising; there could be a slowdown in hiring or even a loss of talent at firms geared toward the middle market; and both trends could exacerbate an already-growing compensation gap between the most profitable firms at the top of the Am Law 200 and everyone else on the list.
Despite law firm profits soaring in the last year, firm partnerships are increasingly uncertain about the future. As a result, according to new survey results, law firms are now doubling down on financial fundamentals such as pricing, clients development and talent.
Technology & Innovation:
Zoom took over in the remote work environment, and it’s here to stay in today’s increasingly hybrid landscape. Could the virtual world of the metaverse be the next iteration of this? That’s just what Washington, D.C.-based AG Immigration is betting on. The boutique law firm announced its foray into the metaverse this week, with a new office that it expects to enhance interactions with existing and potential clients around the globe.
Diversity & Inclusion:
Squire Patton Boggs has hired two female associates as part of the Diversity Lab’s OnRamp 200 Fellowship initiative to restart the careers of women lawyers who have taken extended breaks from the profession. The duo are Ayana Partee and Chrystie Swiney, who join the firm’s public and infrastructure finance practice in New York and Washington DC respectively.
Eight US law firms including Reed Smith and Morgan Lewis and thirteen individual practice groups have been named ‘inclusion champions’ by Diversity Lab for their commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion within their ranks in 2022. The successful firms were selected out of the 240 participating firms that signed up to Diversity Lab’s Inclusion Blueprint programme, which measures firms with a score out of 100 across four areas, namely current diversity representation based on average or above-average thresholds, year-over-year diversity representation progress, diversity representation tracking and meaningful inclusion practices and activities.
Europe’s share of the global litigation funding market is projected to reach nearly 16% of a total of $18bn by 2025, according to new research. Litigation Funding from a European Perspective, by Brussels-based litigation funder Deminor, noted that there were no precise figures for the size of the global litigation funding market but estimated that the UK contributed around $1bn to a global addressable market of around $11.2bn as of 2020.
Hailing from the home of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s top-ranked men’s national rugby team, Emily Jackson’s sport of choice used to be rugby. A “groundswell of emotion” has built around women’s sport, Emily Jackson said.
Disability is one of the most overlooked diversity metrics in the legal industry. But that could be set to change as the proportion of disabled people in the trainee ranks stands at over 20% at some of the largest law firms, according to research by Law.com International. The survey, which canvassed 68 of London’s largest U.K. and U.S. firm’s, asked about the proportion of disabled people in the partnership, among newly qualified lawyers with two and three years post-qualification experience, and at trainee level.
Fossil Fuel companies are using a 1990s investment agreement treaty to recoup investment losses suffered as a result of governments’ plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. NGOs have called the treaty a “climate action killer” and lawyers say it has created a regulatory chill.
We face urgent and escalating challenges testing the boundaries of our planet and upheaving social norms. These include the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a looming global economic crisis, but also existential threats to the fabric that sustains life — our climate, biodiversity and natural systems.
Ukrainian Legal Developments:
Recent events – including the war in Ukraine – have brought the legal and ethical issues surrounding international commercial surrogacy into sharp focus. The practice refers to the buying and selling of surrogacy arrangements, with the child’s mother receiving payment from the intended parents. An absence of coherent regulation across jurisdictions means that people seeking international commercial surrogacy services, surrogates and service providers can face difficulties, particularly if circumstances change unexpectedly.