Ward McKimm to exit Freshfields after three years

Ward McKimm, the high yield star that made Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer break its lockstep, is leaving the firm after three years.

In a shock lateral move, McKimm is rejoining his old firm Shearman & Sterling as a partner in the capital markets practice.

At the time of his joining Freshfields, The Lawyer reported that a condition of bringing McKimm on board was to tweak the firm’s lockstep to offer him superpoints equivalent to those handed to partners hired in Freshfields’ New York office.

The firm altered its 17.5-50 point lockstep in 2014 allowing a small group of partners to earn between 10 and 30 per cent over the plateau level, which at the time stood at £1.63m for UK partners.

His exit comes after a lockstep revamp at the magic circle firm, which took effect at the start of the this financial year.

McKimm will be Freshfields’ second high-profile exit since December, after private equity heavyweight David Higgins joined Kirkland & Ellis.

McKimm will rejoin Shearman after a seven-year absence, which included a stint at Kirkland & Ellis. McKimm moved to Kirkland in 2011 as part of a push by the firm into the banking market. He was previously co-head of Shearman’s corporate group.

At Freshfields, McKimm was the co-head of the European leveraged finance group and led the high-yield practice on the issuer and sponsor side.

At Kirkland McKimm acted for a number of global banks and financial institutions including BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered Bank, Citigroup, UBS and Bain Capital. At Freshfields, he advised Carlson Wagonlit Travel, CVC Capital Partners, The Carlyle Group and Oaktree Capital Management.

Shearman’s senior partner David Beveridge said: “We are delighted to welcome Ward back to the firm. He has an excellent reputation in the market and will be a fantastic addition to our London office.”

David Dixter, head of the firm’s European capital markets practice, said: “Clients continue to turn to us to help them navigate the most complex and innovative transactions, and Ward will be a major asset in providing our clients with a top of market legal service.“

Freshfields London head of transactions Julian Pritchard said: “Ward helped us build out the high yield piece of our leveraged finance team which advises many of the most sophisticated financial investors in the market.

“We are proud that our market-leading private equity and leveraged finance team supports these clients in delivering outstanding results. We wish Ward well in his new role.”

new york city

Japan’s Nishimura & Asahi enter U.S. with New York office

Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi is set to open an office in New York City, its first in the Western Hemisphere.

The office, which will be launched in the autumn of 2018, will be led by senior corporate partner Katsuyuki Yamaguchi and have eight other lawyers. It will provide legal services across all aspects of Japanese law, including cross-border transactions, business formations, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, licensing of intellectual property, real estate, banking and finance, as well as dispute resolution, including complex, large-scale and highly specialized litigation and arbitration.

The New York City office will also advise on issues involving governmental investigations, white-collar crime, labour and employment, and insolvencies. It will build on N&A’s history of advising clients in the US as well as working closely with different American law firms.

Apart from four offices in Japan, N&A has branches in Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Yangon. The firm also has representative office in Dubai, associations in Jakarta, and an affiliate office in Hong Kong.

Jones Day London exits mount with Travers set to make rare lateral hire

Partner exits from the US firm’s City office rise to five this year

Jones Day real estate partner Alex Millar is set to leave the firm to join Travers Smith, Leaders-in-Law understands, in the latest exit from the US firm’s London arm.

DLA Piper confirms Dublin launch plan

DLA Piper is set to open an office in Dublin with the hire of corporate partner David Carthy from Irish firm William Fry.

The move, which has been in the works for at least 18 months, will see the firm launch a new base in the Irish capital that will initially focus on the financial services, technology and life sciences sectors.

Global co-CEO Simon Levine said: “We have been evaluating Dublin for some time and through consultation with our clients (a number of whom currently operate in Ireland or are looking to) and our partners, have decided now is the right time for DLA Piper to enter the Irish market.”

Carthy, who heads up William Fry’s foreign direct investment and life sciences and healthcare groups, has acted on major corporate deals including advising King Digital Entertainment on its $5.9bn acquisition by Activision Blizzard in 2016.

The office does not yet have a specific launch date, with Carthy set to work out his notice at William Fry.

A string of law firms have sought to create a presence in Ireland ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union next year.

Simmons & Simmons opened for business in Dublin earlier this month after recruiting asset management and investment funds partners Niamh Ryan and Elaine Keane from Irish firm A&L Goodbody, while Pinsent Masons and US firm Covington & Burling have also launched in the city.

Levine added: “Dublin is an important legal market and a key global hub for the financial services and technology sectors, in addition to being well located to support our global tax practice, and will continue to be so, particularly in the context of Brexit, as we expect more institutions to have or develop a presence in the country.”

The news comes after DLA Piper recently lost more than 20 partners to McDermott Will & Emery, as well as the co-chair of the firm’s US private equity practice, Steven Napolitano, who is set to join Kirkland & Ellis alongside Chicago co-managing partner Brendan Head.

Freshfields Paris office head exits for Jones Day

Elie Kleiman is reunited with Freshfields’ former French real estate team who joined the US firm last year.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Paris head Elie Kleiman has joined Jones Day in the French capital.


Clifford Chance 

Clifford Chance Continental European managing partner steps down

Clifford Chance has found a replacement for Continental Europe managing partner and former leadership contender Yves Wehrli.

Charles Adams
Charles Adams
Yves Wherli
Yves Wherli

The firm has pegged former Italy managing partner Charles Adams to return to the European platform after spending two years in its New York office, where he worked at growing Clifford Chance’s Americas practice. He is still head of the firm’s Italy finance and capital markets group.

From 2007 until 2014, Adams was the office managing partner of Clifford Chance’s Italian practice, and was a Continental European representative on the firm’s management committee between 2013 and 2014.

Initially appointed for a four-year term, Adams stood down earlier than originally expected when the then-new managing partner Matthew Layton disbanded the management committee as part of his new strategy.

At the time of his initial election in 2013, Layton beat off competition from Wehrli and real estate finance partner Andrew Carnegie for the top job.

Wehrli, who had completed the maximum number of terms in his role, is expected to continue as Paris office managing partner after the change.

Adams said: “Nurturing our position in this strategically important region is a priority for the firm. That includes ensuring that we forge ever-stronger bonds with our colleagues in other regions, notably in the Americas and Asia Pacific.

“Europe’s future is intertwined with that of the wider global economy, and we are better placed than any other law firm to help clients capitalise successfully on the opportunities that brings.  It is an exciting time to take on this role and I look forward to working with our teams globally to reinforce our position as market-leaders.”

HSF has re-elected James Palmer to a second term

erbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has re-elected James Palmer to a second term as the firm’s chair and senior partner until 2021.

He faced competition from Mark Shillito who stepped down from his position as UK/US head of disputes to challenge Palmer.

Shillito’s resignation as practice head came as a shock and opened the door for Damien Byrne Hill to step up to his former position.

James Palmer HSF
James Palmer

The race was a markedly different contest from Palmer’s first time running. In 2014, four challengers rivalled him for the role with ex-HSF Australian deputy senior partner Mark Crean falling to Palmer at the final hurdle.

Crean left the firm one year later to join Jones Day as the firm’s head of M&A. Of the four who stood in the 2014 election, only Palmer remains at the firm.

Palmer said: “I look forward to working with all our colleagues and our leadership team in pursuing our strategy and ambitions. The firm continues to perform well in our markets globally and remains superbly placed to strengthen still further.”

Palmer’s reappointment will not be the only election at the firm in 2018.

HSF partners voted to overhaul its lockstep at the end of last year, though a vote will be held to expand its remuneration committee. An annual vote will also take place as the firm looks to fill up to four spots on its global council.

Palmer sits on the remuneration committee alongside HSF CEO Mark Rigotti who said changes to to the committee will be central to its strategic shift in focus toward Asia and EMEA.

On Palmer’s election win, Rigotti said: “The re-election of James will bring a degree of stability and continuity to the implementation of our strategy.  I look forward to continuing to work closely with James in our vision to become a world class professional services business bringing together the very best people to achieve the best results for our clients.”

Since joining legacy Herbert Smith in 1986, Palmer has spent his entire career at the firm as a corporate lawyer. He was made up to partner in 1994, taking over as global head of corporate in 2010.

His key clients at the firm include FTSE100 heavyweights BP, British American Tobacco and National Grid.

The announcement follows quickly on from real estate partner Jeremy Walden taking over from Don Rowlands as head of the UK/EMEA practice.

He will work alongside David Sinn who heads up the Australia/Asia real estate team.

Bryan Cave posts falling revenue and partner profits before BLP merger

Bryan Cave saw both revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP) dip in its last full financial year before its merger with Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), a deal the US firm is expecting to turn its financial performance around.

The St Louis-based firm firm saw gross revenue dip 2.5% to $592.6m in 2017 as PEP fell nearly 7% to $804,000. Revenue per lawyer remained flat at $700,000.

Bryan Cave’s top-line figure has now fallen four straight years by a total of 7.8% since it topped out at $643m in 2013.

A firm spokeswoman issued a brief statement noting that Bryan Cave is “very pleased” with the “extremely strong” financials.

A decrease in mortgage litigation work and slightly shrinking headcount (down 2.6% to 847 lawyers) partly accounted for the gross revenue dip, the statement said.

“We expect the pending combination with BLP to grow revenues and boost profitability as a direct result of our improved ability to provide our clients with broader and deeper legal services,” said Bryan Cave in its statement.

This year will be the last set of financial figures reported by Bryan Cave before it becomes Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP). That merger is expected to create a combined firm of some 1,600 lawyers with more than $900m in gross revenue.

A firm with $900m in gross revenue last year would have ranked 37th in the most recent Am Law 100 list and 44th in the Global 100 rankings, directly between McDermott Will & Emery and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy in both tables.

For its part, BLP saw revenue rise 7% to £272m (roughly $376m at current exchange rates) during 2016-17, its last full financial year, as PEP fell nearly 8% to £630,000 ($871.000).

Bryan Cave last year trimmed its non-equity partner ranks by 6.2% down to 166. The firm’s equity partner ranks grew by 2.5% to 204, up from 199 the year before, helping to explain some of the PEP decrease.

BLP’s partners will be interested in that figure, as the combination they are entering into is one of the few fully financially integrated transatlantic law firm mergers. In an earlier interview, Bryan Cave chair Therese Pritchard said the single-profit pool structure made it easier to reward partners for working together across geographies than a Swiss verein construction.

“In our mind it provides the incentives to find the best people in the firm to service the clients’ needs,” Pritchard said. “And we think at the end of the day that is a better way to operate. We are all in it together.”

Allen and Overy logo

Allen & Overy litigation chief stands down after 10 years

Allen & Overy (A&O) has made its first change in litigation leadership for over a decade, with global head Tim House handing over to Karen Seward.

The move follows House’s appointment last year as A&O’s US senior partner. House relocated to New York for the role, but said he would continue as the firm’s global litigation chief returning to London on a monthly basis.

He put his name forward in the firm’s management election race in 2016, but lost out to senior partner Wim Dejonghe.

The global litigation head role will be taken on by employment partner Karen Seward, who joined the magic circle firm in 2000 from Pinsent Masons.

She was tasked with building an employment practice at A&O, which now consists of eight partners in London.

It is the first major leadership shift at the helm of A&O’s litigation department, which has been run by House for over 10 years.

Seward, who will start her new role in May this year, said: “Tim will be handing over the reins of an incredibly successful practice.

“Tim has brought us a very long way over the past ten years, while revenues have tripled. The core values he personified, and that have underpinned that success, will remain and we will continue to seek out the most talented, diverse and ambitious litigators for even greater success.”

House said: “Karen has an exceptional practice advising boards and institutions on their most difficult senior executive and employment issues, has excellent relationships with key clients of the firm, and has a bold vision for the future strategic direction of the litigation practice.

“Karen will be a formidable leader for a changing world.”

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.