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Proskauer rising

Boston-based Proskauer Rose follows its clients to London, Paris and São Paulo.

Anyone concerned that the credit crunch is slowing private equity activity isn't thinking globally. Consider Proskauer Rose. The Boston-based law firm has just opened new two new offices in Europe and Latin America, and hired new partners in four locations.

In the past couple of months, Proskauer Rose has announced the launch of offices in London, to be headed by former O'Melveny & Myers private equity partner Matthew Hudson, and in São Paulo, headed by corporate partner Antonio Piccirillo. The addition of the two offices brings the firm's total office count to 10 globally.

Recent hires include private equity partners Daniel Schmidt and Olivier Dumas from Schmidt Gicqueau Dumas Mull-Jochen in Paris; hedge fund and private equity partner Timothy Clark from O'Melveny & Myers in New York; corporate partner Trevor Chaplick from Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in Washington DC; and real estate partners Louis Eastman and Douglas Frank from Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw in Los Angeles.

?Our strategy for expansion has always been very simple: we find the best individuals or groups of individuals that are at the top of their game and work around them,? says Robin Painter, a corporate partner and co-chair of the private investment funds group in Boston.

Private equity, according to Proskauer Rose chairman Alan Fagin, is one of the cornerstones of the firm's strategy. The firm's 125 private equity professionals service an enviable client list, consisting of JPMorgan Private Equity, Adams Street Partners, Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, Circle Peak Capital, Ares Management, Charterhouse Group and New Enterprise Associates, among many others. Recent representations on private equity transactions include the $33 billion acquisition of HCA and the $8 billion acquisition of Extended Stay Hotels.

About 25 percent of the firm's private equity work comes from non-US clients, but that proportion could change quickly in light of recent developments. Does Proskauer Rose have plans to open more offices? ?Our clients view the opening of a London office as responsive to their needs, and future Proskauer expansion in Europe and elsewhere will also be driven by the demands of our client base,? says David Tegeler, a corporate partner and co-chair of the private investment funds group.

Simpson Thacher hits $1,000 per hour
According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, the hourly rates of top lawyers in the US have reached $1,000. New York based law powerhouse Simpson Thacher & Bartlett raised its top rate to $1,000 from $950 per hour on September 1. Among the partners who will be commanding the new base rate is Richard Beattie, Simpson Thacher longtime chairman and partner. Beattie, who specializes in M&A, leveraged buyouts and corporate finance and law, has a long history of working with The Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Other members of the $1,000 or more per hour club include Simpson Thacher litigator Barry Ostrager and antitrust lawyer Kevin Arquit; Susman Godfrey co-founder and litigator Stephen Susman; and Venable commercial litigation partner Benjamin Civiletti.

Dewey and LeBoeuf agree to merge
New York-based law firms Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae have agreed to merge. Dewey, which earlier this year failed to merge with West Coast law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, will bring its highly respected M&A practice and LeBoeuf its noted energy and insurance practices. Key Dewey clients include Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Lloyds, while LeBoeuf has relationships with Zurich, Shell and Scottish Re. The combined firm, which will be known as Dewey & LeBoeuf, will have more than 1,300 lawyers in 12 countries and revenues approaching $1 billion. The deal is subject to partner approval and is scheduled to close on October 1. Separately, LeBoeuf Lamb has launched a new office in Hong Kong that will serve as the firm's regional hub for Asia. The 10-lawyer Hong Kong office is co-headed by LeBoeuf London partner William Marcoux and former Simmons & Simmons partner Daniel Liew.

Weil Gotshal opens Hong Kong office
New York-based law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges has announced plans to open an office in Hong Kong in October. Akiko Mikumo, a senior corporate partner in New York and a member of Weil Gotshal's management committee, will become managing partner for Asia and the head of the Hong Kong office. Mikumo specializes in M&A and private equity. Two other partners will be relocating to the Hong Kong office: Peter Feist, a corporate partner from New York who focuses in private equity and M&A, and David Meredith, a corporate partner from Shanghai who specializes in cross-border financing transactions and M&A. Weil Gotshal Chairman Stephen Dannhauser said in a statement: ?Hong Kong will provide the platform for Weil Gotshal's expansion into other Asian markets, including India and Japan.? The firm already has an office in Shanghai, and is in the process of applying for a license to open an office in Beijing.

Latham & Watkins hires in New York and Tokyo
Los Angeles-based law firm Latham & Watkins has added Taurie Zeitzer as a partner in its corporate practice in New York and Ryan Dwyer as of counsel in its corporate practice in Tokyo. Zietzer, who joins from O'Melveny & Myers, focuses on M&A and has advised private equity investors with respect to the management of their portfolio companies, including management equity and incentive plans, corporate governance, financings and follow-on acquisitions. Dwyer has a broad practice that includes cross-border M&A, private equity, domestic and international joint ventures, international dispositions and investments, foreign direct investment into Japan and by Japanese companies overseas, and private placements. Dwyer joins from DLA Piper.