In a major shakeup in Central America, global law firm DENTONS announced a proposal to open offices in Central America through a combination with MUÑOZ GLOBAL. The Costa Rican-based Muñoz brothers, José Antonio Muñoz and Pedro Muñoz, have split from leading firm Arias & Muñoz, which will now be known simply as ARIAS. Muñoz Global will also include offices in Panama and Nicaragua. Gisela Alvarez de Porras will act as managing partner of the Panama office. Porras acted as managing partner of Arias & Muñoz’s Panama office, but left the firm in April 2016 to serve on an Advisory Committee of Independent Experts for the Government of Panama to review financial practices. The partnership for the Nicaragua office is yet to be announced.
In Brazil, Thiago Rodrigues Maia, an M&A and private equity partner who previously worked at Soares Bumachar Chagas Barros Advogados, joins DEMAREST ADVOGADOS. Meanwhile, TAUIL & CHEQUER ADVOGADOS snagged infrastructure and regulatory specialist Bruno Aurélio from Cascione Pulino Boulos & Santos Advogados. In Mexico, Mexico City-based GALICIA ABOGADOS announced the opening of a new office in Monterrey.
In the US, movement between firms has remained at a steady clip since mid-October, but the biggest news from the past interval wasn’t a practice head or a rising star switching firms, rather, it was the merger of KAYE SCHOLER and ARNOLD & PORTER into Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, a firm with headquarters in New York and Washington, DC that will employ over 1,000 lawyers globally.
Meanwhile in Boston, SIDLEY AUSTIN brought investment funds partner Elizabeth Shea Fries over from Goodwin Procter.
K&L GATES continued the streak of recent activity in Chicago by adding partner Joseph Condo to its energy and infrastructure team. Condo came to K&L from renewable energy company Invenergy.
In Houston, KIRKLAND & ELLIS raided Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s New York office for corporate partner Doug Bacon.
Although New York saw a slight decrease in activity, it was still the site of a couple headline moves. HERBERT SMITH & FREEHILLS lured project finance partner and Latin American markets expert Edward Dougherty from Allen & Overy’s São Paulo office. Elsewhere, FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER added corporate partner Aly El Hamamsy to its New York office from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
There have been some interesting recent developments in the legal markets in Asia-Pacific, with firms making moves that reveal their local and international strategies. In Hong Kong, CLIFFORD CHANCE hired corporate partner Frank Yuen from independent firm Woo Kwan Lee & Lo in a bid to enhance its offering to local clients. Yuen is focused on Hong Kong listings and related public mergers and acquisitions, and last year acted for billionaire Li Ka-shing on a major reorganisation of his $97 billion business empire. Also, London-based law firm RPC hired M&A and private equity specialist Jeremy Cunningham from Mayer Brown in Hong Kong; ADDLESHAW GODDARD strengthened its Asia corporate practice with the hire of Andrew Yang to its Hong Kong office from Goodwin Procter; and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft’s Hong Kong partner Jeffrey Maddox rejoined JONES DAY after Cadwalader's decision to pull out of Asia.
In mainland China HOGAN LOVELLS was emboldened to utilise conditions in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and enter into a formal association with Chinese law firm FUJIAN XIAMEN FIDELITY, becoming only the third firm to do so. Alternatively, UK firm FIELDFISHER has accessed Chinese law capability by merging with Beijing-based boutique JS PARTNERS under a Swiss verein.
Across the Formosa Strait, DUANE MORRIS opened up an office in Taiwan to focus primarily on intellectual property issues. DUANE MORRIS & SELVAM TAIWAN—named after its 2011 joint venture with Selvam—will be based in Taipei. Further north in South Korea, LATHAM & WATKINS received a licence from the Korean Ministry of Justice to open a foreign legal consultant office in Seoul.
Korean firm YOON & YANG opened up a new office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and in Singapore OC QUEEN STREET—Osborne Clarke’s Singapore alliance—added Ralph Lim from Drew & Napier as director and head of its corporate and M&A practice.
In India, KOCCHAR & CO hired a number of partners, including Gautam Bhatikar from ALMT Legal who will be senior partner and co-head of the Mumbai office; corporate partner Sarika Raichur from Yuti Law; and corporate and arbitration specialist Nikhat Sardar Khan, who joined the Dubai office from SunEdison. LUTHRA & LUTHRA’s Delhi projects partner Rajesh Chavda left the firm after just 18 months to take up an in-house role at IDFC Alternatives. ECONOMIC LAWS PRACTICE’s associate partner Sumit Rai became an independent counsel in October, and the firm absorbed Akshay Kishore from Ashurst’s Singapore office an associate partner at its Mumbai office, specialising in alternative dispute resolution. Ashurst also lost its corporate partner, Alastair Holland, to CURTIS MALLET-PREVOST. Also, HAS ADVOCATES brought in Amit Jajoo from PKA Advocates and Atulya Sharma from Apollo Tyres to its Mumbai and Delhi offices.
There has been plenty of activity in Australia as PwC hired former Clifford Chance partners Mark Pistilli and Danny Simmons to its Australian legal arm. Also, HOGAN LOVELLS hired corporate partner Matthew Johnson from Clayton Utz to its office in Perth; SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS strengthened its real estate team in Sydney with the hire of partner Dannelle Howley from Allen & Overy; and WHITE & CASE opened up two new offices in Melbourne and Sydney, bringing in three more lawyers from Herbert Smith & Freehills—senior associates Adeline Pang and Ged Cochrane, and ex-special counsel Michelle Keen.
In the Balkans a number of firms announced alliances or firm acquisitions. In Serbia GECIĆ LAW acquired Colic Law Office, an M&A and litigation boutique with Ognjen Colic taking up the role of head of corporate. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, KARANOVIĆ & NIKOLIĆ announced its expansion into the Republic of Srpska through a cooperation with Banja Luka based Goran Babic, a finance partner and former lawyer at Hypo Alpe-Adria. Finally a new alliance – SOUTH EAST LEGAL ALLIANCE (SELA) – was formed in the Balkans by DIMITRIJEVIĆ & PARTNERS (Bosnia and Herzegovina), ŽURIĆ & PARTNERS (Croatia) and BOJOVIĆ & PARTNERS (Serbia).
In Estonia, former Sorainen lawyer Kadri Kallas has joined VARUL/TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE as an associate partner. The addition of a financial law specialist to the team is notable as the firm, heavily involved in the recent seismic changes to the Estonian legal market, has more of a reputation in the litigation space.
There was a lot of movement in France over the last month and a half, mostly in the corporate space. Laurent Faugerolas joined the M&A team at DECHERT; the capital markets specialist moving from his own boutique, LF Advising. Faugerolas previously left Weil Gotshal & Manges to establish the firm in 2013.
Other interesting developments in Paris saw David Lacaze, a corporate lawyer in the real estate sector, join HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS from Paul Hastings, and corporate partner Emmanuelle Porte leave boutique firm Redlink to join BIRD & BIRD. Porte specialised in venture capital and corporate finance transactions within the healthcare and life sciences sectors. Elsewhere Guillaume Berruyer returend to FTPA to head the banking and financial services department, after nearly seven years of service at Jeantet.
Among the recent moves in Germany was insolvency boutique KÜBLER’s hiring of King & Wood Mallesons’ counsel and restructuring specialist, Tillman de Vries, as partner. The move was not supposedly related to the recent financial difficulties at the firm’s EMEA offices.
In Poland, DLA PIPER bolstered its banking practice in Warsaw with the addition of Mariusz Hyla from Hogan Lovells. Hyla had been at Hogan for 17 years. German firm NOERR was also active hiring 11 lawyers including three partners and a counsel from DJBW - Daniłowicz Jurcewicz Biedecki & Partners. Ludomir Biedecki (capital markets, M&A), Radosław Biedecki (M&A) and Witold Daniłowicz (M&A and arbitration) are the relevant financial and corporate hires.
There was one particularly impressive move in Portugal that saw PLMJ snap up Diogo Perestrelo. The experienced corporate lawyer joined the team from Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, and brought a team of five other lawyers with him. Elsewhere Jorge Salvador Gonçalves joined the real estate team at GARRIGUES, switching from Jardim Sampaio Magalhaes & Silva & Associados.
In Romania, STRATULAT ALBULESCU ATTORNEYS AT LAW added three new partners in the form of Leontin Trifa, Otilia Petrescu and Ioana Bratu. Trifa focuses on finance, Petrescu on real estate and Bratu on environmental law.
Moscow has seen the incorporation of two new firms in the recent past. This has included a team from Vegas Lex breaking away to establish a new firm: TRUBOR. Meanwhile, Jeanne Tomashevskaya, a former partner at O2 Consulting, founded TOMASHEVSKAYA & PARTNERS in the same period.
In the Slovak Republic ČECHOVÁ & PARTNERS expanded its M&A, real estate and employment capacity in Bratislava with the addition of Lenka Šubeníková from Wolf Theiss.
The most significant news coming out of Switzerland recently was the departure of a team of five partners and five associates moving from Froriep in Zurich to the local branch of international firm BAKER & MCKENZIE. This included corporate and M&A partners Beat Barthold and Pascal Richard, banking and finance partner Ansgar Schott, antitrust partner Boris Wenger and intellectual property and IT partner Alessandro Celli.
In the Turkish capital Ankara the biggest news is the conclusion of WHITE & CASE’s formal relationship with ÇAKMAK, leaving the international firm without a presence in the city for the first time in 31 years. In Istanbul, meanwhile, former Zorlu Holding lawyers Pınar Aksakal Aydın and Ece Kök Şen have left the company and joined with Murat Kececiler to form KECECILER & PARTNERS. EGEMENOĞLU also announced the addition of new partner, seeing Oya Derindere joining the team from DLA Piper.
In the UK there were a number of significant hires over the last month, principally within the M&A area. SIMPSON THACHER raided Freshfields for partner Ben Spiers; LATHAM & WATKINS hired Edward Barnett from Allen & Overy and DECHERT took private equity focused Ross Allardice from White & Case.
Dechert was also active in the debt finance space hiring John Markland from Kirkland & Ellis, while fellow US firm ROPES & GRAY took Malcolm Hitching from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). HSF suffered another loss in late October with the departure of regulatory partner Nick Bradbury who moved to ALLEN & OVERY.
There has been disruption at King & Wood Mallesons over the last few months following its European reorganisation and in late October this resulted in the resignations of Michael Halford, Jonathan Pittal and Andrew Wingfield. Investment funds partner Halford later re-emerged at GOODWIN PROCTOR.
Finally SIDLEY AUSTIN bolstered its UK restructuring practice with the addition of restructuring partner Yen Sum from Linklaters. She is dual qualified in Australia and England & Wales and previously worked at Allens and in house at Barclays Capital.
In the Middle East, another international firm entered Iran (a handful have launched in Tehran since most international sanctions were lifted earlier this year) in November when German outfit ROEDEL & PARTNER opened a permanent branch in the country’s capital. Managing partner José Campos Nave will lead the new branch, which will focus on advising European family-owned businesses on establishing a presence in the country.
A significant move in the UAE saw experienced White & Case finance partner Shibeer Ahmed join WINSTON & STRAWN, a relatively recent addition to the emirates legal market.
Ahmed is the second partner the Chicago based firm, which opened in Dubai in 2015, has recruited from the White Shoe outfit in this year’s final quarter. In October, Dubai corporate partner Campbell Steedman moved between the two firms’ branches.
Another recent departure in Dubai saw King & Wood Mallesons corporate partner, Hamish Walton, switch the firm’s office in the emirate for DECHERT’s.
A rare move in the Algerian legal market saw LEFÈVRE PELLETIER & ASSOCIÉS recruit two business focussed partners and a senior associate, Chems-eddine Hafiz and Mohamed Chehat. Both partners joined from their own boutiques.
In Uganda there was a significant move as ENSAFRICA secured the signature of a leading financial and corporate lawyer. Phillip Karugaba joined the firm from MMAKS Advocates where he held the position of head of corporate advisory, with expertise in M&A, acquisition financing and capital markets.