UK & Ireland
A Kirkland & Ellis partner is joining Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson as the latter’s private equity rebuild continues. Rachel Wolfenden is making the move, having been at Kirkland for seven years. She joined in 2015 as an associate and made partner in 2020. Prior to switching to Kirkland, Wolfenden worked at Taylor Wessing, where she also trained.
Brown Rudnick has added a partner from Fieldfisher in London to lead its UK and European intellectual property practice. David Knight has joined the firm just days after it emerged Brown Rudnick’s former lead partner for UK and European IP, Steven James, had left with three colleagues to build the UK contentious IP practice at US rival Morrison Foerster.Knight’s practice covers the full range of IP rights, with a particular focus on patents. He advises companies on both offensive and defensive patent litigation and on corporate matters, including structuring, transactions and licensing.
Morrison Foerster (MoFo) has hired a four-strong team from Brown Rudnick in London to build a contentious IP practice. The group is led by Brown Rudnick’s former lead partner for UK and European IP, Steven James, along with counsel Ruth Arkley, senior associate Hattie Chessher and paralegal Rebecca Jenkins.
Ashurst has strengthened its contentious competition practice in the U.K. as it adapts to the changing post-Brexit regulatory climate. London partner Anna Morfey joins Ashurst from specialist litigation firm Hausfeld, which in recent years has taken on several major class actions in the U.K.
DLA Piper has strengthened its real estate offering in London. Andrew Yates joins DLA Piper’s real estate team from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, where he has been a partner since 2008. Prior to that he had also been a partner at Pinsent Masons, and also spent time at Ashurst and U.K. elite firm Slaughter & May
Osborne Clarke and Morrison & Foerster have added to their ranks across their U.K. offices. Osborne Clarke has added PwC legal director Tom Lewis as its head of corporate structuring and simplifications. Tom Lewis is the second partner to join Osborne Clarke from PwC in two months.
Two DLA Piper asset finance partners are leaving to join the legal arm of Big Four firm EY. The duo are led by Alan Cunningham, who heads DLA’s asset finance practice in the U.K. He first joined the firm as a partner in 2011 from DWF and previously worked as an associate in Norton Rose Fullbright’s Paris office, Reed Smith’s Hong Kong office and at Harbottle & Lewis, according to his Linkedin profile.
DLA Piper has bolstered its Africa offering with the hire of an international projects partner in London from UK rival Watson Farley & Williams. Titus Edjua brings a strong track record in advising on Africa-related transactions in both civil and common law jurisdictions to his new firm, which he has joined after three-and-a-half years as a partner at Watson Farley. His practice spans all aspects of project development and finance, including advising on conventional and renewable power, mining, gas, infrastructure, brownfield and greenfield projects, as well as general financing and commercial transactions. He also brings expertise in policy, regulatory and governance advice.
Ashurst has swooped for King & Spalding partner in the UAE. Simon Rahimzada has over 20 years’ experience in cross-border M&A, private equity and joint venture transactions, the firm said in a statement.
Bratislava-based firm Hillbridges has claimed a five strong team of ex-White & Case lawyers after the latter firm exited Slovakia last year. The move comes within a year of White & Case pulling out of the Slovak market in March, spinning off its Bratislava office, with the 11 lawyers at the time continuing to operate under the mantle of independent firm Aldertree.
Cuatrecasas has expanded its white collar criminal law practice with the hire of a senior Jones Day partner in Madrid. José Bonilla, who leads Jones Day’s investigations and white collar defense practice in Madrid, will join the Spanish law firm as a partner on New Year’s Day 2023.
Ashurst has expanded its restructuring and insolvency team in Asia with the hire of a former Addleshaw Goddard partner in Hong Kong. The firm has hired corporate restructuring partner Lance Jiang after Addleshaw shuttered its Hong Kong office earlier this year.
King & Spalding has added Kirkland & Ellis’ government and internal investigations partner Richard Sharpe to its Singapore stead. Sharpe has relocated from Hong Kong to Southeast Asia for his new role. Sharpe advises clients on investment-related risk, the design and implementation of compliance programs, anti-bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering, and international sanctions. He has experience in acting for private equity funds, financial institutions, and individuals who are under investigation by Hong Kong and U.S. regulators.
CMS Grau, the Peruvian arm of global law firm CMS, has hired as a partner a former government vice minister at the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines, as the firm anticipates greater demand for advice on energy matters. Eduardo Guevara Dodds was appointed in 2018 as the Peruvian government’s vice minister of hydrocarbons, responsible for developing sustainable policies including those related to the social impacts of extractive industries.
Scottish Rail Holdings has added its next general counsel and company secretary. Emma Dixon has joined the company, which is owned and controlled by the Scottish Government. There have been a number of notable in-house moves in recent months across the industry.
Promotions & Appointments:
TotalEnergies (formerly known as Total) has reduced its global panel by 25 per cent, appointing six firms instead of eight to the new list. The firms that have gained places on the panel are Clifford Chance, Gide Loyrette Nouel (itself and with the Lex Mundi network), Jones Day, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose Fulbright and White & Case. Gide has been a long-standing firm for TotalEnergies, and its position on the panel alongside the network Lex Mundi will allow TotalEnergies access to a large network of high-quality local firms. The company said this is particularly attractive for its low-margin renewables sector, which requires firms with strong local presence with specific local knowledge.The new panel will run from 1 January 2023 for a period of three years.
Dechert has announced that two of its leading corporate lawyers will succeed chair Andy Levander as part of a wider leadership shake-up that will also see the firm replace the CEO role with joint global managing partners. Partners David Forti and Mark Thierfelder will take over 1 July 2023 from Levander, who has served as chairman of the top 35 US law firm since 2011. At the same time Henry Nassau, who has served as Dechert’s CEO since 2016, will step down, after which the firm will retire the role.
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has appointed Mike Flockhart as the new joint managing partner for its global corporate practice and the UK/US regional head of practice. Flockhart will begin in his new role 1 December and succeed fellow London-based partner Stephen Wilkinson, who returns to full-time practice after four years in the role. Flockhart will work with fellow corporate managing partner Carolyn Pugsley, who is based in Melbourne, maintaining a UK-Australia axis that reflects the firm’s key jurisdictions.
Mergers & Alliances:
Beijing-based Han Kun Law Offices has established a local law firm in Hong Kong following a merger between the firm’s Hong Kong office and its associated law firm in the city, Miao & Co—a move designed to bolster its ability to work across Greater China. The newly merged firm, which will go by the name Han Kun Law Offices, began operating on Nov. 28. The Hong Kong branch will be headed by Felix Miao, a U.S.-qualified lawyer who founded Miao & Co and previously worked at Morrison & Foerster, Latham & Watkins and Linklaters, according to his bio on Han Kun’s website.
Ashurst is to become the first international law firm to practise local law in South Korea after securing a joint venture with domestic firm HwaHyun. The move also signals the Anglo Australian firm’s launch in Seoul, where a number of its rivals have operated representative offices for several years.
Following a hiring frenzy which saw firms onboarding from the bottom up with unrelenting pace and eyewatering salaries, it seems the curve has now peaked. With potential stormy waters on the horizon for law firms, the legal hiring market has been met with some turbulence over the past few months. Whilst it is no surprise that firms have become a lot more strategic given the volume of hiring last year, the struggle to attract quality talent remains prevalent.
Tech-focused law firm Cooley is laying off 150 employees in the US including 78 attorneys, blaming the move on a market downturn that is expected to continue into next year. The move was revealed by chairman and CEO Joe Conroy in an internal memo yesterday, which was obtained by Above the Law, in which he conceded that the firm’s aggressive hiring during 2020 and 2021 had backfired in light of an ‘unexpected economic downturn’.
Restructuring lawyers sometimes have a reputation for being doomsayers. The economy is due a downturn, they frequently say, and insolvencies are soon to pick up. Those forecasts can be wrong for a long time before they become right. But there is a strong feeling that this economic downturn time really will lead to increased restructuring & insolvency activity, especially in the U.K.
Technology & Innovation:
Gowling WLG has created an innovation and legal tech seat for trainees across its UK offices, The Lawyer has learnt.The optional programme sees trainees split their six-month seat between the firm’s innovation team and on secondment to Avail – an artificial intelligence (AI) start-up with a focus on transactional real estate teams, with which Gowling has a joint venture.
Recent hacking incidents involving the phones and mobile devices of prominent UK politicians can serve as a valuable learning exercise for firms looking to shore up their data protection and cybersecurity practices.
Diversity & Inclusion:
The Law Society of England and Wales has welcomed the final report from the City of London’s Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, which calls for half of senior leaders from the financial and professional services sector to come from a non-professional background by 2030. The report provides a roadmap that Law Society president Lubna Shuja said sets out how employers can speed up progress and achieve equity of progression.
Working parents will know – winter bug season is already upon us. With the NHS warning of a ‘twindemic’ and encouraging certain demographics to get both their Covid and flu jabs, some headlines have warned of an illness-filled winter ahead and for working parents this means months of dreaded calls from nurseries to collect children and school absences. For many working parents, these winter months can be full of intense juggling periods of trying to keep up with work and care for sick children but of course, being a working parent, especially in the legal sector, can be difficult and stressful no matter what time of year it is.
Jeantet has recruited a 14-person team, including three partners, from a rival French firm to create a new multidisciplinary department dedicated to energy transition and sustainable development. The move is part of a growth strategy for Jeantet, an elite firm with headquarters in Paris and offices around the world.
Ukrainian Legal Developments:
DLA Piper’s UK pro bono manager has been recognised by London’s legal community for her work coordinating a project to provide free legal advice to Ukrainian refugees. Associate Olivia Clark is this year’s recipient of the Wig & Pen Prize, which is jointly awarded by the City of London Law Society (CLLS) and City of London Solicitor’s Company and celebrates the pro bono legal work of City lawyers. She secured the award for her work coordinating the Ukraine Advice Project, which connects Ukrainians fleeing the war with lawyers who can advise about legal pathways to the UK. The portal has provided information to more than 4,300 Ukrainians and their families and has linked more than 1,500 Ukrainians with pro bono immigration legal support.