Legal manoeuvres: PE lawyers’ latest moves – February 2012

Hogan Lovells lays claim to playing a part in the first ever leveraged buyout of a UK law firm, while Reed Smith continues to poach SJ Berwin talent as private equity practices look to strengthen their teams.

PE Manager provides a round-up of the latest people moves and office openings within the private equity-focused legal community. See the links to your right for past coverage of private equity lawyer moves.

· US law firm Reed Smith continues its raiding of SJ Berwin’s private equity group as it names Justus Binder as head of its German private equity practice.

Just a few months previously, Reed Smith poached SJ Berwin London partner Perry Yam to launch the firm’s private equity practice in the UK.

· Hogan Lovells has built up its private equity M&A practice in Paris with the addition of incoming partner Xavier Doumen from rival US firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Meanwhile, Hogan was legal advisor to a consortium of banks in the first ever leveraged buyout of a UK law firm, according to a statement. Earlier this month private equity house Duke Street took a majority stake in insurance law firm Parabis, a move made possible by recent passage of the UK’s so-called ‘Tesco law’, a bill allowing law firms to sell stakes to private equity funds and other outside investors. Duke Street was advised by SJ Berwin, with partners Tim Wright and Ian Borman leading.

· Middle East-focused M&A lawyer Hardeep Plahe is leaving Linklaters to join Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Dubai office. The hire follows the recruitment of Chézard Ameer from Ashurst in October 2010 to head the firm’s international funds practice.

· At a time when the US department of Justice is ramping up its investigation of bribery abroad, Kirkland & Ellis has beefed up its Washington DC office with the appointment of famed white-collar and financial services lawyer Neil Eggleston from peer firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

Eggleston’s most notable work is perhaps serving as defence counsel for former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the corruption prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

· Three private equity deal lawyers are leaving Baker & McKenzie to bolster the Frankfurt office of rival firm Paul Hastings. The lawyers, Regina Engelstaedter, Jan Gernoth and Ali Sahin, all join as partners.

· Joshua Kaye, a McDermott, Will & Emery lawyer who advises private equity firms on healthcare transactions, has left to join DLA Piper. Kaye left the firm alongside four other colleagues to build up his new employer’s Miami office, including healthcare regulation lawyer Michael Austin who joins as partner.

· US law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is beefing up its London office with the addition of two funds lawyers. Tim Pearce and Ian Meade join the firm from Simmons & Simmons.

· Pinsent Masons has absorbed Scotland-based law firm McGrigors into its name brand following a partner vote. The combined firm now employees some 1500 lawyers, 500 of whom will be based in the group’s London headquarters. Pinsent is expected to launch offices in France and Germany over the course of the year.

· Offshore law firm Mourant Ozannes has increased its Asia footprint with a Hong Kong office opening, which will initially focus on investment funds, corporate and finance work.

Meanwhile, Daniel Birtwistle succeeds Jonathan Rigby as managing partner of Mourant’s Jersey office.

Know of any private equity lawyer career moves we might have missed? If so, email PEM editor Nicholas Donato at