Ukrainian Legal Developments:
Nearly two months since Big Law firms made statements about pulling out of Russia, there are murmurings in the Russian market that the exits aren’t what many had expected. “That’s if they’re leaving at all,” said one skeptical Moscow-based lawyer. “They keep working with the same teams, on the same client matters, and sitting in the same offices.”
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is spinning off its Russia base into a separate, independent law firm and has emphasised it will not maintain a relationship with the new outfit.
Meet Grigory Chernyshov and Konstantin Lukoyanov of CLPLaw—two lawyers who previously worked at major international firms—who are now mounting legal challenges against some of the world’s largest companies in class actions on behalf of Russian consumers.
Eversheds Sutherland has announced that it has completed the transition of its Russian operations, but maintains links to the region via an association with a newly-created firm peopled by former Eversheds staff.
Eversheds Sutherland has hit back at what it has called “an apparent misunderstanding” around its plans for its Russia operations, as law firms continue to finalise their exits from the country. The firm issued a statement on Wednesday to state again that it has ceased its Russia operations, after previously announcing all of its people would transfer to a newly-launched separate offering called Birch Legal.
When all the large international law firms that had a presence in Russia said they were leaving the country it seemed that Big Law was taking an ethical stance against its invasion of Ukraine. But some partners believe there was something else helping to drive their decisions—the difficulty in acquiring indemnity insurance.
Another question arises: will other less controversial clients begin to baulk at their chosen law firm having, for example, polluters on the books? Maybe the lure of simply wanting the best lawyers will override their scruples – but remember, clients have already kicked up a fuss over diversity and managed to drive change within law firms as a result.
Late last year the Pandora Papers shone a light on Baker McKenzie’s role in helping clients navigate the shadowy world of offshore tax dealings. In March, the war in Ukraine prompted extensive scrutiny of law firms that have advised Russian state-backed entities and also emboldened U.K. politicians to begin naming lawyers who have for years been aggressively helping to keep their oligarch clients’ names out of the press.
Dan Oates, Simon Saitowitz, and Angela Becker, all private equity partners, have joined Ropes & Grey from Fried Frank.
Rebecca Ward, private equity partner, has joined Freshfields from Dickson Minto.
Emma Dowden-Teale has joined DLA Piper from Bates Wells.
Julia Smithers Excell has joined ING from White & Case.
Milan Thakker has joined Reed Smith from Novartis, pharmaceuticals giant.
Kelly Jordan has joined WBD’s Newcastle office from Muckle LLP.
Rashpal Soomal has joined Eversheds Sutherland after over 26 years at BCLP.
James Batham has joined Dentons to sit on its executive committee and work as a clients and markets partner.
Paul Ellaby and Victoria Robertson have joined Trowers & Hamlins’ Manchester office from DAC Beachcroft.
Stuart Axford has joined Schulte Roth’s derivatives group from Arnold & Porter.
Sebastian Ritz has rejoined Clifford Chance’s Dusseldorf office after being at Ebner Stolz for 8 years.
Vincent Naveaux, who has previously practiced at White & Case and Allen & Overy, has joined Willkie’s Brussels office.
Julie Gao, former head of Skadden Arps, has joined as CFO at ByteDance, the owner of TikTok.
Damon Lewis has joined Hogan Lovell’s D.C. office from DLA Piper.
Ethan Schultz has joined Latham’s Washington, D.C. office after 16 years at Skadden Arps.
Diane Blizzard, Melissa Gainor and Dan Kahl have joined Kirkland’s Washington, D.C. office as partners.
Elizabeth Boison has joined Hogan Lovells from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Oksana Lashko has joined DLA Piper’s New York office.
Timothy T. Howard has joined Freshdields after 12 years with the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Michael Kurzer has joined Vinson & Elkins’ New York office from Paul Weiss.
James Saling, formerly of Troutman Peper, has joined Katten’s New York office along with one of his associates.
Craig Bleifer, who served as general counsel for Novo Nordisk for 20 years, has joined Akin Gump in New York.
Louis Curcio and David Pisciotta have joined Reed Smith’s New York office from Troutman Pepper.
Gabriel Acri has joined Willkie’s New York office from hedge fund advisor Sovarnum Capial, where he was the chief compliance officer.
Kimberlie Pearlman, formerly of Polsinelli, has joined DLA Piper’s Chicago office.
Michelle Earley, capital markets partner, has joined O’Melveny’s Austin office from Locke Lord.
Cynthia Bai and Nic Frey have joined Sidley’s Palo Alto office from Cooley and Baker Botts, respectively.
Amy Holcroft, formerly of Hewlett Packard, has joined Twilio Inc.
Markus Diethelm will join Credit Suisse as general counsel in July, replacing Romeo Cerutti.
Miriam Kleiner, formerly of King & Wood Mallesons, has joined Ashurst’s Sydney office.
Kim Hodge has joined Squire Patton Boggs’ Perth office from McCabe Curwood.
Andrew Neito, formerly of Creel Abogados, has joined Norton Rose Fulrbight.
Promotions and Appointments:
HSF has promoted 34 lawyers to partners, with 12 of them in London.
Stephenson Harwood has promoted ten lawyers for 2022, with eight of them based in London.
Allen & Overy have promoted 39 lawyers, 13 of them being in London.
Ashurst has promoted 25 lawyers, its largest ever round, with all but three being in the London or Australian offices.
Clifford Chance has made their largest ever round of promotions with 37 lawyers being promoted internationally.
DLA Piper has promoted 74 of its lawyers to partner in its 2022 cohort, with appointments spanning 38 of the firm’s offices across 21 countries.
This year’s round comprises 13 lawyers from seven countries across the UK, Europe and Asia, and consists of the same number of promotions that were announced in 2021.
David Esseks has been appointed as global co-head of litigation alongside incumbent Karen Seward
A BLM spokesperson told The Lawyer that it decided several months ago to delay its partner and associate promotions until the merger with Clyde & Co goes live at the start of July. They said: “Any discussion or decision making with regards to this process will take place after this date.”
Penningtons Manches Cooper’s CEO David Raine is to step down in October after nearly 15 years at the helm. He will be succeeded in October by Helen Drayton, the head of the firm’s business services division and a current member of its managing board.
Mergers & Alliances:
In Bolivia, Kennedys has linked with López del Solar, a decades-old firm that services insurance companies, while in Ecuador it has associated with Tobar ZVS, a firm with a highly regarded insurance unit.
Whilst the pace of law firm mergers is yet to match pre-pandemic levels, 2022 has seen an uptick in merger activity in the U.K. market with the Clyde & Co and BLM merger (combined revenue approximately £700m) being the largest to be announced to date.
Office Openings & Closings:
A trio of energy and infrastructure lawyers, led by Joseph Kim, have joined Greenberg Traurig ahead of plans to open their third office in the region.
A five-lawyer team, led by Julianne Abelman and Marie Anne Mastrovito, have joined from Abelman Frayne & Schwab to open a New York office, their 20th in the US and 27th worldwide.
Littler Mendelson’s Spanish affiliate, Abdon Pedrajas Littler, has hired a six-layer team from Cuatrecasas to open in Valencia.
A six-strong team from Winston & Strawn have joined Greenberg Traurig to open a new office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Norton Rose Fulbright announced that the global law firm is expanding to Chicago as its 12th US location and 53rd office worldwide. Norton Rose Fulbright will be the first major law firm to base itself in Chicago’s vibrant Fulton Market District. The new office will be a modern and progressive workspace with a focus on collaboration and innovation.
Weils global revenue has increased 12% to $1.86bn, while their London revenue has increased 43% overall.
Keystone Law’s revenue increased 26.5 per cent from £55m to £69.9m during the past financial year.
Stephenson Harwood is cutting pay for its people choosing to work remotely full time, as the firm rolls out its hybrid working policy. During the pandemic the firm hired lawyers who were not based in London for resourcing reasons, according to a person at the firm. Those hires working remotely full-time were paid reduced packages, the person added. That remote working deal has now been extended to all existing employees at the firm as part of its hybrid working policy, which comes at a 20% cost to their take home pay.
When Fenwick & West chair Richard Dickson looks back at his firm’s outstanding growth in profitability over the last several years, he finds the story isn’t necessarily about certain practices delivering outsized results. Corporate work and litigation have both been on an upward trajectory, but it’s easy for any law firm leader to say he’s focused on growing these twin engines.
Technology & Innovation:
Building technology for lawyers is hard. Building tech that lawyers will use instinctively is even harder. So far, law’s technical evolution has involved cracking the former, but looking ahead, how can we ensure that using legal technology becomes a habit?
Diversity & Inclusion:
Leading UK law firms have been scrambling to improve their diversity records through the publication of targets, the launch of new initiatives and also by appointing more women to top positions. The growing influence of the ESG movement and particularly its impact on clients – who are increasingly demanding more progress from their advisers – and recruitment seems to have jolted the profession out of its complacency. The fact that UK law firms are required by law to publish gender pay gap data has also been a major catalyst.
“I often thought about quitting law altogether. Was the stress of lawyering causing my infertility? I struggled, juggling appointments (medical, acupuncture, counselling, coaching) with deadlines, and ‘visibility’ in the office. Tired, of disguising my injections in lunch boxes and administering them in the loo. Fed up, with hiding tears from colleagues when I got bad news (often).”
Businesses have “long way to go to truly embed real change” when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion, a report has claimed, but as FTAdviser’s Diversity in Finance Awards 2022 shortlist proves, great strides have been made by some.
Almost half of corporate lawyers in the UK are actively looking for a new position as attitudes towards traditional work models in the legal profession continue to shift, according to research by legal services provider Axiom Law.