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.


Hogan Lovells appoints first German partner as chair

Hogan Lovells has appointed a new global chair of the firm to replace long-serving partner Nicholas Cheffings.

The firm has elected its first German partner in the role, with Hamburg IP litigator Leopold von Gerlach set to take the reins from May this year.

Von Gerlach fought off competition from three other Hogan Lovells partners. His term lasts for three years, with members able to serve as chair for two terms only.

The process sees Hogan Lovells’ board put forward a number of recommendations to partners following soundings from members. The partners then vote on that final recommendation.

As chair, von Gerlach will head Hogan Lovells’ 12-strong board, which advises the CEO and international management committee on strategy, management and operating decisions.

He has been a member of the board since May 2014, acting as the representative for continental Europe. He further worked on the firm’s partner advancement committee, with responsibility for the promotion of associates and counsel.

Von Gerlach replaces real estate specialist Cheffings, who first took up the role in 2012.


Clifford Chance hires litigation partner in New York office

Clifford Chance has hired a new litigation partner in its New York office, bringing its total number of partners to 59.

Clifford Chance boost revenues in all major jurisdictions in 2016/17

lifford Chance’s (CC’s) top management team took home £16m during 2016-17 after a strong year for the firm which saw it boost revenues across all major jurisdictions.

The firm’s recently filed limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts show its executive leadership group received total remuneration of £16m, £1m up on the previous year’s figure of £15m.

However, the increase came on the back of the group growing from 12 to 13 members with the addition of London managing partner David Bickerton, meaning average pay for the group has fallen from £1.25m to £1.23m.

Bickerton has since passed on leadership of the London office to City finance head Michael Bates, who officially took up the regional managing partner role yesterday (1 January).

The LLP accounts also show staff costs increased by 14% during 2016-17 from £609m to £694m, primarily as a result of total salaries and remuneration rising 15.6% from £482m to £557m.

Average headcount fell by 2% to just over 6,065, with associates and other fee earners falling 53 to 2,262 and support staff headcount dropping 50 to 2,731, while the number of partners increased by one to 568.

Last July, the firm announced that profit per equity partner (PEP) had risen by 12% to £1.38m, with revenue rising 11% to £1.54bn.

Broken down by geography, the firm Asia-Pacific operations saw the sharpest turnover increase, rising 23% from £224m to £276m.

US revenues grew 15% to £202m, while Continental Europe revenues grew 12% from to £506m, but UK growth was harder to come by, with domestic revenues up 4% from £489m to £507m.

CC recently re-elected Matthew Layton as global managing partner after the firm’s partners voted to hand him a second four-year leadership term, which will begin on 1 May next year.

handshake deal

Kraft Heinz names New York Gibson Dunn partner as global GC

Rashida La Lande will join the US packaged food conglomerate in January

Kraft Heinz has appointed Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Rashida La Lande as its new global general counsel and corporate secretary. The New York corporate lawyer will join the company in mid-January at its Chicago offices.

La Lande, who was not available for comment, replaces general counsel Jim Savina, who the company said in the announcement of the new GC’s hire was leaving to “pursue other opportunities”.

La Lande joined Gibson Dunn in 2000 and focused her practice on complex commercial deals, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, private equity transactions and joint ventures. She represented Kraft Foods in its 2010 acquisition of Cadbury. More recently, she represented Verizon in its $4.5bn (£3.4bn) acquisition of Yahoo, which closed in June.


US law firm launches probe into MultiChoice, news channels saga

MultiChoice has been accused of paying millions to the SABC and ANN7 in exchange for political influence in the ongoing digital migration matter.

JOHANNESBURG – The MultiChoice saga has now attracted an international investigation and a possible class action lawsuit while Icasa is still deciding whether or not to probe the multi-million rand payments to news channels.

MultiChoice has been accused of paying millions to the SABC and ANN7, formerly owned by the Guptas, in exchange for political influence in the ongoing digital migration matter.

Naspers, which owns a large portion of MultiChoice, issued a statement last Friday, saying the persistent baiting for the group to intervene in the affairs of MultiChoice is not conducive to an open democracy.

Shares in Naspers were down 4% on Tuesday.

US law firm Pomerantz has launched a probe on behalf of shareholders.

TV critic and journalist Thinus Ferreira said: “This law firm is now doing their own investigation and going straight to Naspers and they’re asking them whether they want to join the possible class action lawsuit in America. Naspers is obviously an international company.”

Meanwhile, former Communications Minister Yunus Carrim says he has no doubt that Naspers and MultiChoice tried to sway government on the digital migration matter.

At the same time, African National Congress national executive committee member Jackson Mthembu says he supports calls for an independent investigation.

“Because if you want to benefit and you then want to influence government policy towards your benefit as a private citizen, or corporate citizen – indeed you might be trying to capture the state.”


US law firm Sedgwick announces closure in early January

US law firm Sedgwick has announced that it will close down in early January, following a string of partner departures and office closures.

“We have concluded that the best way to allow our lawyers to continue providing great service to our clients is by ceasing operations and moving to other excellent law firms,” the San Francisco-based firm said in a statement. “We are pleased that most of our lawyers and staff have opportunities with very fine firms.”

Two sources familiar with Sedgwick said a large number of lawyers and staff may be hired by Clyde & Co. One source said that representatives from the UK firm will be meeting with Sedgwick in the coming weeks to assess which of the firm’s lawyers and staff it will hire. Another source said that some Sedgwick employees would be out of a job as early as 1 December.

Michael Knoerzer, Clyde & Co’s New York managing partner and a member of the firm’s global management board, said his firm would not comment about potential acquisition targets.

Sedgwick managing partner Michael Healy, who assumed leadership of the firm in early 2015, did not immediately return a request for comment about its talks with Clydes, which earlier this week expanded into Malaysia.

In its statement, Sedgwick expressed pride in its lawyers and staff. “While this news deeply saddens all of us, we are very proud and appreciative of all those who helped make Sedgwick the great firm it has been since 1933,” the firm said. “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank our clients, attorneys and staff for everything you have done for us for decades, and we wish anyone who has ever crossed paths with this wonderful law firm the best and brightest future.”

From Austin, Texas, to Washington DC, and Chicago to New York, Sedgwick has seen a number of its offices dwindle or close this year. More recently, the firm has seen departures from its San Francisco headquarters.

The latest lawyers to leave the firm in San Francisco were partners Steven Roland and Randall Block, who this month joined local firm Burke Williams & Sorensen. Both ex-Sedgwick partners declined to comment about their decision to leave the reeling firm, which The American Lawyer reported in June had lost 20% of its revenue this year due to partner defections, an exodus that quickened after the January departures of 40 lawyers in New Jersey and Texas.

Roland had served in management positions at Sedgwick for more than 15 years, including leading the firm’s commercial litigation practice.

Other recent departures include appellate litigation partner Agelo Reppas in Chicago, who recently joined local firm BatesCarey. Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani also recruited Sedgwick civil litigation partner Kendra Canape in Irvine, California, while Bullivant Houser Bailey brought on Sedgwick products liability partner Rachel Tallon Reynolds in Seattle.

UK firm Kennedys has recruited six partners from Sedgwick in New York and Chicago in recent months, including New York and Chicago managing partners John Blancett and Eric Scheiner.

Sedgwick’s Bermuda associate Sedgwick Chudleigh also recently split from the faltering US firm to join Kennedys’ global network.

The departures have slashed Sedgwick’s headcount to fewer than 160 lawyers, a 39% drop from 12 months ago, according to data compiled by ALM Legal Intelligence. That is by far the largest fall in headcount among Am Law 200 firms during that period. Sedgwick has lost at least 49 partners, 60 associates and 19 counsel within the past year.


Clifford Chance New York partner Ed O’Callaghan departs

Clifford Chance New York white collar partner Ed O’Callaghan has left the firm to join the US Department of Justice.

O’Callaghan started his new role – as principal deputy assistant attorney general – today (13 November) in the DOJ’s National Security Division. He will responsible for helping to shape US national security and enforcement priorities.

He exits after six years, having joined in 2011 as a partner in the firm’s government investigations and white collar criminal defence practice.

Previously, O’Callaghan worked for US firm Nixon Peabody for just over two and half years, where he headed up the firm’s government investigations and white collar defence group.

Before that, he worked for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he was co-chief of the terrorism and national security unit.

During his time with CC, he represented senior executives and officials of JP Morgan in connection with $6.2bn (£4.7bn) of trading losses in 2012; O’Callaghan acted for Achilles Macris, who was head of the London branch of JP Morgan’s chief investment office, where the trader nicknamed the “London Whale,” Bruno Iksil, worked.

He also acted for former top FIFA official Jeffrey Webb who was arrested for corruption charges in 2015. Webb, who pleaded guilty later that year, was among several officials arrested in 2015 on corruption charges following an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In addition, he helped secure a major win in Washington, DC for Dutch aerospace firm Fokker Services in 2014 in a case relating to alleged US sanctions violations.

A CC press spokesperson said: “Although he will be missed by our firm, this is a great opportunity for Ed as he returns to government service…We want to thank Ed for his many substantive contributions to our firm, notably in connection with high-profile global investigations.”

Appleby defends business model in leaked documents probe

Offshore giant Appleby has admitted that some of its clients’ data was “compromised” in a data security incident last year, but insists its practices and clients’ businesses are legitimate.

The fourth largest offshore law firm Appleby has come under the spotlight as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) launched an investigation into the business of the firm’s clients via leaked documents.

The ICIJ enquiries come following a data security breach in the Bermuda-based firm’s IT system in 2016 and concern the firm’s business and the activities conducted by some of its clients.

It is reported that a number of media organisations are preparing to release details of the leaks over the coming days.

Appleby issued a statement last night in response to the ICIJ allegations, although it did not specify what the allegations were.

“These enquiries have arisen from documents that journalists claim to have seen and involve allegations made against our business and the business conducted by some of our clients,” said the firm.

The firm said it took any allegation of wrongdoing “extremely seriously”, and found “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients” having investigated the allegations itself.

“We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour,” said the statement.

“It is true that we are not infallible. Where we find that mistakes have happened we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities.”

In light of intensifying scrutiny on law firms’ cyber security and data protection systems, Appleby added that: “We are committed to protecting our clients’ data and we have reviewed our cyber security and data access arrangements following a data security incident last year which involved some of our data being compromised. These arrangements were reviewed and tested by a leading IT forensics team and we are confident that our data integrity is secure.”

The firm expressed the view that it was “disappointed” that the media may choose to publish material “obtained illegally” and said this may result in “exposing innocent parties to data protection breaches”.

“Having researched the ICIJ’s allegations we believe they are unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector,” it concluded.

According to The Lawyer’s 2017 Offshore Top 30 report, Appleby is the fourth largest offshore law firm by number of lawyers. In 2016, it had 464 staff, including 223 fee-earners, 60 of whom are partners.

The firm has adjusted to being a stand­alone law firm following the disposal of its fiduciary business in December 2015. Following the sale, Michael O’Connell was re-elected to managing partner in January 2016 for a three-year term.