Big-name partner moves continue to set tongues wagging in the legal world. This year there have been mass exoduses, high-profile magic circle exits and even several partners leaving their firms then changing their minds.
Here are The Lawyer’s biggest lateral hires of 2016.
One of the first major hires of 2016 happened in the US, as Bracewell & Giuliani name partner Rudolph Giuliani exited for Greenberg Traurig. In the latter half of this year, however, Giuliani made headlines not so much for his legal work, but for the active role he took in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The departure of Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) partner Robert Hunter to join boutique Edmonds Marshall McMahon caught our readers’ attention in February. The move marked a significant shift in Hunter’s career after spending the majority of his working life in the City’s top global firms.
In one of The Lawyer’s biggest exclusives of the year, Sidley Austin raided the Kirkland & Ellis London office for a team of six partners. Sidley Austin has been significantly bulking up in the City this year, returning to Kirkland in October to hire restructuring partner Jifree Cader.
Kirkland’s fortunes did not change much as February went on, as it saw high-yield partner Andy Hagan follow in the footsteps of Ward McKimm to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
It was the end of an era in March as Freshfields former litigation head Ian Terry retired from the firm to join One Essex Court as a mediator. Other stalwarts in the legal arena to leave private practice this year include Clifford Chance banking and finance partner James Johnson, DLA Piper senior partner Nigel Knowles and Freshfields M&A partner Mark Rawlinson.
It is hard to single out one of Latham & Watkins’ new starters for 2016, as the firm went hiring crazy this year. But Stephen Kensell’s move from Allen & Overy (A&O) stands out, having been a permanent fixture of A&O’s banking team and losing out on the leadership elections to Wim Dejonghe. The US powerhouse also became one of the only firms in the world to laterally hire from Slaughter and May, recruiting corporate partner Sanjev Warna-kula-suriya in August. It picked up two additional partners from Ashurst – financial regulatory partner Rob Moulton and restructuring partner Simon Baskerville – as well as Debevoise & Plimpton arbitration partner Sophie Lamb.
Few magic circle M&A partners up sticks and leave for US firms. However, a number of heavy hitters said their goodbyes this year, including Clifford Chance corporate partner and banking co-head Patrick Sarch who joined White & Case. Shortly after, Freshfields lost M&A partner Ben Spiers to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in a rare hire by the US firm.
Exits from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) continue to hit the headlines. And it all reached a peak when KWM saw four of its biggest billers resign from the firm on one day. Funds head Michael Halford was one of the quartet, who went on to join Goodwin Procter along with a number of his colleagues. Goodwin Procter sparked the interest of The Lawyer readers as it also recruited private equity specialists Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley from Shearman & Sterling.
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