With banks as 17 out of its 20 biggest clients worldwide, Linklaters is following the money trail ?to New York. The UK law firm has had an office in New York for 35 years, but it is only in the past four years that the firm has been bulking up its team in the US. From about 30 lawyers in 2003, it now counts 140 lawyers at its Avenue of the Americas location, or six percent of its 2,500 lawyer headcount worldwide.
?The development of the office in New York really arises as a result of the firm's global strategy,? says Paul Wickes, US managing partner at Linklaters. ?A major thrust of the firm's activities around the world today is on the private equity side, both in terms of representing buyers and sellers in private equity transactions and also to a significant extent representing our finance clients in the financing of private equity transactions.?
Linklaters is counting on its geographic reach of 30 offices in 23 countries and mix of corporate, financing and litigation work to differentiate itself from its competitors. The firm is one of the ?magic circle? law firms in the UK, and also counts strengths in Europe, Brazil and Asia.
In New York, the firm counts one third of the partners are in litigation, and the balance in corporate, funds, banking, capital markets, and structured finance and derivatives.
Linklaters has been hiring aggressively to build its private equity practice. In the US, it recruited Scott Bowie from Latham & Watkins in 2005, which also marked the firm's establishment of its US investment practice. Bowie now heads Linklaters' US private equity funds and investment management practice in New York. The firm's other investment management partner in New York is Stephen Culhane, who joined from King & Spalding in 2006.
More recently, in a round of firm-wide partner promotions in April 2007, the firm promoted Joshua Berick to partner, also in New York. Berick, who focuses on corporate/M&A transactions and private equity, joined from Debevoise & Plimpton. Five other partners practicing private equity were promoted in Amsterdam, Beijing, London and Paris, out of 38 promotions in all.
Although Linklaters counts a degree of success in private equity, such as advising Kohlberg Kravis Roberts on the listing of its private equity vehicle in Amsterdam and on the closing of KKR's second European buyout fund, it has had its share of losses in Europe. Last year, its private equity head Graham White and partner Raymond McKeeve left for the London office of Kirkland & Ellis.
But the firm's global ambitions are serious. It bagged a rising private equity star, Ian Bagshaw from Clifford Chance, this past February, to work alongside Richard Youle in London. Bagshaw's key clients ?The Blackstone Group and Macquarie ?would be a welcome addition to Linklaters' private equity client roster, which includes AIG, The Carlyle Group and Sun Capital Partners.
Skadden Arps promotes 29 globally
New York-headquartered law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom celebrated its 59th anniversary by announcing the promotion of 29 partners. Four of the new partners are in Europe, three are in Asia, and the rest in the US. At least four new partners practice private equity. Pascal Bine in Paris has represented French and US private equity investors in connection with public and private leveraged buyout acquisition and direct financings. Dimitri Kovalenko, one of the co-heads of Skadden's Moscow office, has represented Renaissance Capital. Edward Lam in Hong Kong focuses on corporate finance, M&A and private equity in emerging markets, particularly Southeast Asia. Rossie Turman in New York focuses on banking and institutional investing, and corporate; Turman has worked with The Blackstone Group, Kelso and Harvest Partners.
SJ Berwin promotes seven in private equity
European law firm SJ Berwin has made 16 partnership promotions, of which seven were in the firm's private equity practice. Of the seven, three promotions were made in London, and one each in Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin. In London, Nigel van Zyl has worked with HgCapital, Vision Capital Partners, The Blackstone Group, Segulah, BENCIS and Adams Street Partners. Ed Harris focuses on multi-jurisdictional M&A and leveraged buyouts. Nicholas Plant has advised Advent International, Apax Partners, the Barclay Brothers, Clearbrook Capital Partners, Doughty Hanson, Duke Street Capital, Graphite Capital and HgCapital on completed buyouts. Isabel Rodriguez in Madrid specializes in structuring funds for Spanish and international clients. Jér^me Jouhanneaud in Paris is involved in venture capital, LBOs and acquisitions of public and private companies. Christian Cornett in Frankfurt advises on corporate transactions and corporate law, while Andreas Wuesthoff in Berlin focuses on venture capital investments and M&A.
Simpson Thacher opens in Beijing with Freshfields hire
New York-headquartered law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has opened an office in Beijing. The office, Simpson Thacher's third in Asia after Hong Kong and Tokyo, is headed by former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer China head and M&A partner Douglas Markel. In Beijing, Simpson Thacher's team of seven lawyers will focus on M&A, private equity and capital markets transactions for Chinese companies and for international companies and financial investors interested in China. Pete Ruegger, chairman of Simpson Thacher's executive committee, said in a statement: ?[Markel's] experience will significantly enhance our ability to offer sophisticated M&A advice to our clients in China and throughout the region.? Markel has been practicing in Beijing for 16 years and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He will join other Simpson Thacher China lawyers Chris Lin, who is relocating from Hong Kong; Leiming Chen in capital markets and Shaolin Luo in M&A. Chen was hired from Shearman & Sterling and Luo from Fangda Partners.
Freshfields names Winfield London banking head
European law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has appointed David Winfield head of the banking group in London. Winfield, who has been a partner at Freshfields since 1995, takes over the role from Edward Evans. Evans held the role for nine years and will continue as a member of the group. Winfield focuses on leveraged acquisition finance, and has worked on project finance and property finance. Among his work was advising on the financing of CVC Capital Partners' purchase of a controlling stake of the Formula 1 motor racing series. Commenting on his appointment, Winfield said in a statement: ?We have had a very successful year, which has seen strong growth in our lender and private equity practices. Our partners continue to raise the profile of the practice and to work with our restructuring team on complex workouts.? Freshfields also promoted Martin Hutchings in London to partner in its banking group. Hutchings specializes in leveraged finance, acquisition finance and property finance.
Herman joins Gowlings in Toronto
Following the dissolution of Canadian law firm Goodman & Carr, former partner Michael Herman has joined Gowlings as a partner in its corporate finance department. Herman is an active figure in the Canadian private equity legal field, where he has been representing both companies seeking capital and private equity funds making acquisitions and investments. For the past four years, he has been the co-editor of the annual Private Equity Report Canada. Herman is a strategic advisor to a broad range of clients, in particular entrepreneurial, privately held companies, and midmarket investment and financial institutions. He provides counsel to matters relating to private equity, M&A, corporate development and corporate finance. Goodman & Carr, a Toronto-based law firm formed in 1965, entered into an orderly wind-up in March after suffering the loss of a number of partners.
Wachtell Lipton steals Segal
New York-based law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz has brought on Michael Segal in a rare lateral hire for its executive compensation group in New York. Segal was previously co-chair of the employee benefits and executive compensation group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison, where he advised executives and employees on senior-level remuneration matters, many of whom were part of private equity transactions. The lateral hire, only the third such in Wachtell's history, comes after the firm lost two lawyers in its executive compensation practice in recent months. Adam Chinn left for investment banking boutique Centerview Partners, while Michael Katzke left the industry altogether to pursue a social work career. The two other lateral hires the white shoe firm has made were antitrust partner Ilene Knable Gotts from Foley & Lardner in 1997 and tax partner Peter Canellos from Cravath, Swaine & Moore in 1977.
Ashurst nabs Ameer from Debevoise
UK law firm Ashurst has hired Chezard Ameer from Debevoise & Plimpton in London. Ameer, who was a senior associate at Debevoise, becomes partner at Ashurst. He specializes in private investment funds, where he has helped clients structure pan-European private equity funds and institutional investment products. Ameer has particular expertise in shari'ah compliant private equity funds. Geoffrey Green, senior partner, said in a statement: ?Chezard's extensive experience of Islamic fi-nance also allows us to grow our funds offering in the Middle East, an area where we continue to make significant progress as a firm.? Ameer's hiring comes alongside the promotion of investment funds associate Piers Warburton to partner. Ashurst now counts eight partners in its London-based investment funds group, including five specialist funds partners and three tax partners.