Baker & Mckenzie

Baker McKenzie to integrate eight EMEA offices into single profit pool

Baker McKenzie is set to bring its London office and seven others offices across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) into a single profit pool, taking the firm a step closer to full financial integration in the region.

The newly integrated business will be led by Bakers’ Brussels-based global antitrust head Fiona Carlin, who will take up the role on 1 July 2018 when the integration goes live. She was elected to the post earlier this month.

The new structure will have about 1,000 lawyers and include 250 partners, with London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Madrid, Johannesburg, Bahrain and Qatar all sharing profits. Key parts of Bakers’ European business – such as Paris and Germany – will not be included.

The move towards greater financial integration, which is part of the firm’s 2020 strategy, marks a significant departure for Bakers, which has faced criticism in the past for its loosely integrated ‘franchise’ model.

Baker McKenzie global chair Paul Rawlinson said: “Integration is happening in the firm at all levels, to align ourselves around our global brand. Regional integration is one aspect of that and it is a policy which seeks to make it easier for our offices in the regions to work across borders. We see this as a continuing implementation of our entire global strategy through to 2020.”

One London partner said: “There has been criticism levelled at the firm that we’re not financially integrated. People say Bakers is just a franchise with a few offices thrown together. Anything that is done to address that has to be a good thing.

“The disappointing thing is we haven’t got more offices in there. If it was a true success we would have everyone in a single profit centre. I suppose let’s see how it works with this first wave of offices.”

Further offices are expected to join the pool over time, with Carlin’s role expected to include moving the EMEA region closer to full financial integration.

The change means Bakers will have four separate profit pools in Europe once it goes live. Roughly 130 lawyers in Russia are part of an integrated pool with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Similarly, the firm’s Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Duesseldorf and Austrian offices also share profits. The Paris arm is currently integrated with Luxembourg.

One German partner said the firm’s intention was always to move to a more financially integrated system, with former chair Christine Lagarde initially raising the subject during her tenure from 1999-2005.

The German partner added: “Lagarde realised that this needed to happen at some point – the intention has always been there. We will do it and get to it but only when we can. There are a lot of compliance issues and you cannot play around with compliance.”

The firm brought its North American outposts into a single profit pool in 2013 but needed to broker special arrangements for the Dallas and Washington DC offices before they agreed to join.

Bakers’ 17 offices across the Asia-Pacific region are split across five different profit pools.

Reed Smith tax team quits for DLA Piper

DLA Piper has hired a three-partner tax team from Reed Smith, just 12 months after they joined from the collapsed European arm of King & Wood Mallesons (KWM).

Paris tax partners Sylvie Vansteenkiste, Fanny Combourieu and Raphael Bera have all left Reed Smith to join DLA. The trio were part of a 50-strong team, including 17 partners, hired by Reed Smith across offices in London, Paris and Germany following the administration of KWM’s European arm.

Vansteenkiste had joined Reed Smith as head of its Paris tax team and previously co-led the European and Middle East tax practice at KWM prior to its collapse. Her practice covers tax audits and litigation, with a particular focus on complex tax structuring of investment funds.

Combourieu acts on private equity transactions, acquisitions and disposals and restructurings, with a particular focus on personal tax for high-net worth individuals. Prior to joining KWM she was a lawyer with Freshfields in Paris, before joining legacy SJ Berwin as a partner.

Bera worked at US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in both Paris and New York before joining legacy SJ Berwin. His practice covers tax litigation and audits, with a focus on investment fund structuring.

ASHURST

Ashurst grows Australia with double hire

Ashurst has grown its government and public sector capability with two partner hires from Norton Rose Fulbright and HWL Ebsworth.

Norton Rose dispute resolution partner Melanie McKean and HWL Ebsworth TMT partner Angela Summersby will join the firm’s Canberra office.

McKean acts for governments, corporate and private clients and has experience conducting major investigations for the Australian Government.

Summersby’s practice focuses on Australian Government contracting, information and communications technology contracts, intellectual property, privacy and business process outsourcing.

This is the fourth partner exit for Norton Rose since its merger with Henry Davis York in December 2017. The first of these, Sydney financial institutions head, Chris Redden, exited the firm to join Ashurst two weeks before the merger went live.

Norton Rose corporate partners Anthony Latimer joined Bird & Bird and Iain Laughland joined local firm Mills Oakley.

These are the first hires for Ashurst in Australia this year, as the firm focused instead on bulking up its Asia banking practice. The firm hired a banking duo from Allen & Overy and Fangda earlier this month and launched in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The firm also hired White & Case partner Damien Whitehead to join as a local partner in its finance practice.

john lewis

John Lewis recruits Smiths Group GC as new head of legal

Retail giant creates new partnership secretary role to supersede general counsel post.

The John Lewis Partnership has appointed a new legal head, following the departure of general counsel Keith Hubber.

 

Bracewell former London head exits for Akin Gump

Bracewell’s former London managing partner Julian Nichol is joining Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s City office, Leaders in Law has learned.

Linklaters to open it’s fifth office in Hamburg

Linklaters will open its fifth office in Hamburg in the first quarter of this year to capitalise on an increase in banking work for German clients.

The firm has made no lateral hires with the launch, instead transferring two existing partners from Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.

The partner from Frankfurt is tax lawyer Jens Blumenberg, while the partner from Dusseldorf is Wolfgang Sturm, who specialises in corporate law. They will be joined by six associates from the two offices.

The news was first reported in Juve.

Linklaters said it had decided to launch in Hamburg on the strength of the work it has won from clients in its existing jurisdictions. The firm has recently advised on projects for Hamburg-based clients including HSH Nordbank, Hapag Lloyd, Beiersdorf and Berenberg Bank.

A Linklaters spokesperson said: “For several years, we have been increasingly working with many Hamburg-based clients – we would like to further expand that work and are, therefore, very much looking forward to opening an office in Hamburg next spring.”

The new office adds to the four offices that the firm currently has in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Munich. The office in Frankfurt has a particular focus on real estate, while the Munich office is focused on media and telecommunications and the Berlin office on regulation.

Exits for Freshfields as firm shrinks Germany partnership

Three senior Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Germany partners are leaving the firm to establish a public law boutique with offices in Berlin and Duesseldorf.

The three partners are Berlin public affairs head Wolf Spieth, Duesseldorf environment and regulatory partner Herbert Posser and Berlin disputes partner Benedikt Wolfers.

A&0 New York finance heavyweight joins Mayer Brown

Allen & Overy (A&O) global leveraged finance co-head Scott Zemser has left the firm to join Mayer Brown’s New York office.

Zemser joined the magic circle firm in the US less than two years ago from White & Case.

He joined the magic circle firm alongside two other White & Case partners, Alan Rockwell and Judah Frogel.

A&O broke its lockstep to recruit some of the team, which the firm hoped would be a turning point for its US offering and its global finance practice.

Speaking to Legal Week shortly after the hires, A&O’s global co-head of banking Philip Bowden described the moves as a “game changer” for the firm’s finance practice. In total the firm hired five lawyers at the time, including the three White & Case partners, Proskauer Rose banking finance partner Rajani Gupta and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy associate Todd Koretzky, who joined as a partner.

With the exception of Zemser, they all remain at the firm.

Later that year, A&O’s New York office was hit by the departure of a trio of real estate partners, including the firm’s former US practice leader, to Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.

However, it boosted its presence with a three-partner finance and securities team from Paul Hastings in February last year.

Zemser joins Mayer Brown’s New York office this week.

Mayer Brown global banking and finance co-head Paul Jorissen said: “Scott is highly regarded as a market-leading leveraged finance and restructuring lawyer.”

He added: “His extensive knowledge of both US and global leveraged finance markets, exceptional reputation representing financial institutions as lenders in leveraged finance and acquisition finance transactions and restructuring, and deep relationships in the financial community, will enhance our cross-office, cross-border and cross-practice finance offerings.”

A&O US senior partner Tim House said: “We would like to thank Scott for the contribution he made during his time here and wish him all the best for the future. Our US finance and corporate practices experienced substantial growth in 2017, and we expect that trend to continue this year.”