LOD moves into Middle East market with Dubai launch

Lawyers on Demand (LOD) has made its Middle East debut with the launch of a base in Dubai.

The flexible lawyering service has opened in the city with a team of seven lawyers, after receiving a licence from the Dubai International Finance Centre.

The base will be led by Middle East managing director Brett Menadue, who joined LOD in May. He was formerly chief legal officer at Mara Global Technology, before which he was also a director of legal and compliance at Nokia in Dubai.

The official launch comes after LOD announced plans to open in Dubai in July this year.

LOD was launched in 2007 by former Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) partner Simon Harper and Jonathan Brenner, BLP’s then head of recruitment, and five years ago became independent of BLP.

The business has grown to over 600 lawyers and consultants in ten years. It expanded into the Asia-Pacific region last year via a merger with AdventBalance, and now has bases in London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney alongside the new Dubai hub.

The model of employment for LOD lawyers varies depending on the office. In London, lawyers are self-employed and set up their own company through which they operate as freelancers, while in Australia, lawyers are retained on a contract.

Bryan Cave and Proskauer increase London promotions for 2017

Bryan Cave and Proskauer Rose have promoted one and three lawyers to partner respectively in London.

Bryan Cave has made up corporate lawyer Andrew Hart, who joined the firm from legacy Finers Stephens Innocent in 2008.

After three years, Hart left to become a senior associate at Clayton Utz in Australia. He returned to Bryan Cave’s London office in 2013.

Hart is one of 13 lawyers promoted to Bryan Cave’s partnership this year. The other promotions are across the firm’s US offices.

Bryan Cave’s partner announcements comes at an important time for the firm, as it continues its merger talks with UK-headquartered Berwin Leighton Paisner.

The firm has not promoted a London lawyer since 2014, when commercial litigator Robert Dougans was made up.

Meanwhile, Proskauer Rose has announced a global promotions round of 14, with three making the cut in the City.

Funds lawyers Edward Lee and Andrew Shore have been made partner, along with corporate lawyer Liam Arthur.

Proskauer Rose last made a promotion in London two years ago when funds and tax partner Catherine Sear was elected.

Partner promotions in full

Bryan Cave

Andrew Hart, London, corporate
Kenneth Achenbach, Atlanta, regulatory
Amy Taylor Wilson, Atlanta, corporate
Karl Marschel, Chicago, real estate
Amy Simpson, Dallas, real estate
Desmonne Bennett, Denver, litigation
Julie Westcott O’Dell, Irvine, employment
Kamao Shaw, Irvine, finance
Alexander Walden, New York, IP
Jessica Edwards, St Louis, tax
Stefan Mallen St Louis, litigation
Michael Schwartz, St Louis, corporate
Megan Gajewski Barnhill, Washington, regulatory

Proskauer Rose

Camille Higonnet, Boston, funds
Matthew McBride, Boston private equity
Ehud Barak, New York, restructuring
Frank Saviano, New York, corporate
Chantel Febus, New York, investigations
Malcolm Hochenberg, New York, tax
Vincent Indelicato, New York, restructuring
Christopher Ahn, LA, corporate
Christopher Wu, LA< corporate

Liam Arthur, London, corporate
Edward Lee, London, funds
Andrew Shore, London, funds

Cedric Jacquelet, Paris, employment
Nicolas Léger, Paris, employment


HSF to launch in Milan with Simmons hire

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is set to open an office in Milan next year with the hire of Simmons & Simmons Italy dispute resolution and intellectual property head Laura Orlando.

The base, which is due to open in early 2018, will be HSF’s first in Italy and its tenth office in Europe.

Orlando (pictured) joined Simmons in 2010 from local firm Trevisan & Cuonzo, becoming partner in 2014. She specialises in contentious and non-contentious IP, with a focus on patent and regulatory law in the life sciences sector.

According to Simmons’ website, her exit will leave the UK firm without another IP partner in Italy and with one disputes partner. Simmons will not immediately replace her in her management roles.

Two associates and one trainee will join HSF alongside Orlando, with the departures leaving Simmons with 30 associates and 10 partners in its wider Milan office. The firm previously closed in Rome in January 2016 to focus its efforts on Milan.

HSF head of UK and US disputes and global head of intellectual property Mark Shillito said: “We decided to start with a specialist IP offering in Milan because there is a clear client demand for it. One of our big areas is pan-European patent litigation, so for the past few years we’ve been thinking about how best to add to a pan-European offering. Laura is someone we’ve worked with for joint clients and referral matters for the last few years and we think she’s the best in the market.”

He added: “London will increasingly support the new office on pan-European work and we expect it to be a busy and profitable part of the practice. At the moment we’re not planning to open in any other practice areas [in Milan] but we are optimistic about future growth.”

HSF chief executive Mark Rigotti added: “We were one of the few international firms of our scale not to have an office in Italy, so it’s always been something we’ve kept under consideration. There are also a lot of strong local firms there, so we had to consider what we could add that wasn’t already there. Why go into a crowded market unless you can stand out?”

The new office is the second launch announced by HSF this year after confirming plans to open in Kuala Lumpur in May, marking the firm’s ninth base in Asia.



Linklaters hire Latham & Watkins investment funds co-head

Linklaters has made a key addition to its City investment management group, with the hire of Latham & Watkins investment funds co-head Tom Alabaster.

Alabaster, a specialist private equity fund formation lawyer, has been at Latham since 2014, when he joined from the Carlyle Group. He will join Linklaters next month.

At the private equity firm he was a senior counsel, working in both London and New York, focusing on issues such as fund formation, marketing and structuring, as well as various EMEA regulatory and compliance matters. He was also previously an associate at Slaughter and May and Debevoise & Plimpton.

He has a particular focus on advising US institutions operating in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The hire of Alabaster is part of a new strategic focus on financial sponsors and funds for Linklaters.

Investment management head Matthew Keogh said: “Tom is one of the UK’s brightest young private equity fund formation lawyers, with specialist global expertise that sits squarely at the heart of the private equity and financial sponsor sectors.

“His cross-Atlantic experience and global outlook make him a perfect addition to our team, supporting our continual prioritisation of financial sponsors and investors.”

Other recent London lateral hires for Linklaters include Ropes & Gray restructuring partner James Douglas, who the firm hired in May, and Goldman Sachs restructuring lawyer, who joined the firm as a partner in March.

The firm recently launched a client committee chaired by banking head Tony Bugg to coordinate the work it does for its biggest key clients, a move described by managing partner Gideon Moore as “one of the cornerstones” of the firm’s new strategy.



Latham hires Corporate Law partner from A&0 in New York

Latham & Watkins has hired long-serving Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate partner Peter Harwich in New York.

Harwich was made partner at A&O in 2001 and has since led on a range of high-profile M&A matters for the magic circle firm.

These include advising A&O client SAP on its announced $3.4bn purchase of cloud computing company SuccessFactors in 2011, as well as GE Healthcare’s $1bn acquisition of NASDAQ-listed Vital Signs in 2008.

He also worked on Elster Group’s $2.3bn takeover by Melrose in 2012 and Misys’ sale of its Diagnostic Information Business to Vista Equity Partners.

Other new joiners to Latham’s global corporate department in the past year include Linklaters’ German partners Nikolaos Paschos and Rainer Traugott.

The US firm also recruited from A&O in London earlier in 2017, taking corporate partner Ed Barnett and finance partner Stephen Kensell.

A&O has been recruiting heavily in the New York market in the past year, prioritising growth in the finance practice. It took on four lateral partners to its finance team. The three laterals were from White & Case and Proskauer Rose, while Milbank associate Todd Koretzky also made the move.

Months later, the magic circle firm also hired from Paul Hastings finance group, recruiting former head of leveraged finance Bill Schwitter, alongside partners Michael Chernick and Jeffrey Pellegrino.

Former A&O US senior partner Kevin O’Shea nevertheless left the firm for Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy along with two real estate partners last November. The departure saw litigation head Tim House relocate to the US as the firm’s new senior partner this year.



Dentons combines with Ugandan firm KAA

Dentons is set to combine with Uganda’s largest law firm Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), as the expansive firm continues its push for global coverage.

The proposed combination, announced today (27 September), will see Dentons add 26 lawyers  including 12 partners in Uganda, with the KAA brand to disappear as a result.

If approved by partners, the deal will be the latest in a string of tie-ups announced by Dentons in recent months, with a union with Scotland’s Maclay Murray & Spens announced in July, a combination with Boekel in the Netherlands announced in March, with planned openings in Myanmar and Peru announced in May.

KAA is the biggest law firm in Uganda according to Dentons, with the combination expected to go live before the end of the calendar year, subject to securing partner approval over the coming weeks.

When it goes live, Dentons will have more than 8,500 lawyers worldwide. Legal Week sibling title the American Lawyer’s annual 2017 Global 100 ranking showed the firm to be the largest in the world by headcount, with numbers  provided before any of the latest combinations putting Dentons some 1,200 lawyers ahead of China’s Yingke.

Global chairman Joe Andrew said: “With this combination we are truly poised to become one of the leading and fastest-growing firms in Africa. It’s our goal to be the first truly pan-African law firm, through a blend of full-firm combinations and our network.”

KKA managing partner David Mpanga added: “The proposed combination with Dentons, with its polycentric philosophy, will enable us to maintain our deep connections in the local community while embracing and building upon the attributes of the firm that helped us become one of the elite in East Africa.”

News of the combination comes after Dentons appointed  Noor Kapdi as Dentons’ chief executive officer for Africa over the summer. At that time, Andrew said: “We have a clear strategy to become a truly pan-African law firm by growing, as we have in other regions, through whole firm combinations.”

Simmons head of China quits to set up Advisory firm

Simmons & Simmons’ head of China Davis Wang has left the firm to set up his own advisory firm focusing on corporate governance and proxy management.

Wang left Simmons after seven years as the Beijing managing partner and head of China practice. He joined the firm in 2010 from Chinese firm King & Wood (now King & Wood Mallesons) to open and lead the UK firm’s Beijing office. He was promoted to China country head in 2012.

Dual qualified in PRC and the US and his practice had a focus on foreign investment, M&A, private equity and fund formation in the TMT sector.

In his recent move, Wang will retire from law and lead ZD Corporate Governance & Proxy Management Advisory, where he is a co-founder.

Simmons & Simmons has made slight changes to its China practice leadership team following Wang’s exit. It has named Beijing corporate partner Eric Lin as the Beijing office head, while Hong Kong based Asia head Paul Li has taken on the management responsibilities of the Shanghai office.

Lin joined the firm in 2011 as a partner from Allen & Overy, where he was a senior associate.

The firm’s Beijing office now has four partners, while the Shanghai office is much smaller and with no resident partner.

In March 2017, a team of five lawyers left Simmons’ Shanghai office to join Morgan Lewis. The team was led by employment and investigations partner Lesli Ligorner, who joined the firm from Paul Hastings in 2012.

Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore told The Lawyer the firm has no plan to consolidate or close an office in China and on the contrary it has plans to grow.

“We have several lateral hires in the pipeline in China that will come through in the autumn. We will continue to invest there,” said Passmore.

“China is a really important market for us and we need to be in both Beijing and Shanghai. Although there’s increasing competition in the market and it has its challenges, there are a number of areas where we see good opportunities, such as funds, asset management and areas in relation to fintech and TMT,” he added.

With more international firms taking the plunge to enter into association with local Chinese firms or set up a joint operation office in Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Passmore said his firm too is following closely on this development and considering the pros and cons of all the options. But he said Simmons currently has no plan to act on it and will decide in due course.


First Brexit-era financial results

The 2016/17 UK law firm financial reporting season has kicked off with a bevy of notably healthy results from the mid market.

West End corporate and property firm Fladgate has unveiled provisional turnover results showing a 15 per cent rise to £49.2m, the sixth consecutive year the firm has posted a double digit rise in revenue.

Fladgate chairman Charles Wander said the firm’s new three-year, “2020 vision” plan would result in it adding a further 40 per cent to the top line, taking it to around £65m-£70m turnover. “That would represent a 200 per cent increase in revenue since our move to Covent Garden,” added Wander.

Freeths has also announced another consecutive year of growth, with annual fee income rising to £72m, a 12.7 per cent increase on last year, while ABS Knights reports a 64 per cent rise in revenue over the past 12 months to £33.5m.

The latter firm’s biggest ever annual increase follows a sustained period of investment with the recruitment of more than 100 professionals and specialist teams.

In the personal injury sector Minster Law has reported a 50 per cent rise in turnover from £37.2m to £55.8m, its first set of accounts since BHL (UK) Holdings acquired it from BGL Group last year. Under the terms of the transfer of ownership, BGL agreed to write off the balance of an outstanding loan of £39.8m.

The results are the first to become public since the Brexit vote, an event that most firms agree significantly impacted trading levels during calendar year 2016.

Weightmans and Ward Hadaway call off merger talks

Weightmans and Ward Hadaway have abandoned plans to merge after four months of talks.

A tie-up would have created a northern-headquartered firm with a turnover of around £130m.

However, both firms said their strategies were not sufficiently aligned for a merger to work.

Weightmans managing partner John Schorah said: “We have many common interests, but after discussions it became clear that we each want different things from our respective futures.

“We sensibly agreed between us it was better to focus on those things.”

Ward Hadaway head Jamie Martin meanwhile added: “We wish to continue to pursue our strategy of developing a ‘Northern Law Firm for National Business’ across our three offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester and our focus on providing legal services to Northern-based businesses.”

Weightmans would have been the larger of the two firms, with turnover reaching £95m in 2015/16.

Ward Hadaway’s revenue totaled £35.8m but its average profit per equity partner would have been over £100,000 larger than Weightmans at £352,000.

When merger discussions began in January, Schorah said: “The legal market is changing and it is always sensible to look at opportunities that might benefit a business, its clients and its staff.”

He added: “We have shared strategic objectives and a significant number of shared clients.”


Clifford Chance’s Simon Davis wins Law Society presidential election

Senior Clifford Chance litigator Simon Davis will become president of the Law Society in 2019 after winning its latest election.

He will take office as deputy vice president in July, before becoming vice president in 2018 and president the year after.

Davis is a Clifford Chance lifer, joining the firm in 1982, qualifying in 1984 and making partner 10 years latter. He was the firm’s recruitment partner between 1995 and 2000, and spent two years as president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association.

In 2014, he was asked by the Financial Conduct Authority to lead an investigation after the body leaked an announcement of a pension market probe to the Telegraph newspaper in April, wiping billions off the value of life insurers.

Last year, he was instructed to investigate allegations of bullying in the Conservative party which found that senior party officials were unaware of bullying of junior members, taking on the job.

Davis said: “It is a great privilege to have been elected to represent the profession. I intend to represent the Law Society’s broad spread of members as I represent my clients – finding out and resolving the challenges they face, permitting our members in turn to devote their energies to representing the clients who depend on them.”