Travers and Gowling WLG win roles on City’s largest trust flotation

Travers Smith and Gowling WLG have advised on Smithson Investment’s IPO debut on the London Stock Exchange, which is set to be the City’s biggest ever flotation by a trust. Travers partner and head of listed funds, Aaron Stocks, led the firm’s team for Smithson and was assisted by senior associate Leigh Stockey. Gowling WLG […]

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Dechert’s Miriam Gonzalez to leave firm for United States

Miriam Gonzalez

Dechert’s trade co-chair Miriam Gonzalez is to leave the firm, after it was revealed she would be moving to California with her husband Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, who has been named as Facebook’s head of global policy and communications.

Gonzalez is one of Dechert’s most recognisable faces in London, having joined the US firm in 2011 from DLA Piper.

She co-chaired Dechert’s international trade and government regulation practice and has been preoccupied with a raft of Brexit work, as well as issues such as trade sanctions, policy and foreign investment proceedings.

Prior to DLA Piper, Gonzalez was a senior member of the cabinet for EU External Relations Commissioners Chris Patten and Benita Ferrero-Waldner. At the EU Gonzalez had responsibility for trade policy as well as EU relations with the Middle East, the US and Latin America.

Her departure follows the news that Clegg has been hired by Facebook to be its next head of global policy and communications.

In a statement, Clegg said: “Miriam and I have been so grateful for the warm welcome extended to us by everyone we have met at Menlo Park. Moving to California is a new beginning for us – and for our three sons – which we are looking forward to with great excitement and anticipation.”

The chairman of Dechert’s London management committee, Camille Abousleiman said: “Miriam has made a significant contribution to the firm and we wish her and her family all the very best for her new life in the United States.”

Hot 100 Alumni: Miriam Gonzalez, Dechert

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Divisions emerge as Ince partners gather for merger debrief

A proposed merger with Gordon Dadds will be high on the agenda at Ince & Co‘s partner conference in London this weekend, with at least one of the insurance firm’s international offices already understood to have voiced their opposition to the deal. The Lawyer understands that Ince’s Paris office has told senior management it will not […]

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Close Brothers begins hunt for new GC

Merchant bank Close Brothers has kicked off its search for a new general counsel, as it was announced that Elizabeth Lee would be retiring as the company’s legal head later this year.

Lee joined Close as general counsel in September 2009 and was further appointed as a director in August 2012.

Prior to Close Brothers, Lee served as European general counsel of Lehman Brothers from 2006 to 2009, during the period in which the US bank fell into administration at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is the largest bankruptcy in US history, with Lehman holding over $600bn in assets.

Lee also served as general counsel of GE for six years, from 2000-2006, acting as its legal counsel for three years previously.

She trained at Richards Butler, now Reed Smith, where she subsequently became an associate and then a partner.

During her career, Lee’s specialties have been in legal management of large multinationals and FTSE 250 companies. Lee also has specialist knowledge of regulation and substantive experience in growth and change management.

Preben Prebensen, group chief executive, said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Elizabeth for her very substantial contribution over the last several years and wish her all the best for the future.”

The group is currently conducting a formal search for a new group general counsel, who will be a member of the group executive committee.

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Black History Month: It’s vital to have BAME role models in the profession

What’s your background? Did you always want a D&I role?

I started my legal career as a lawyer, practicing in the area of corporate securities, both in a law firm and in-house — which I did for over 10 years. The path to becoming a diversity professional was not planned, but evolved over many years.  At the firm where I started my practice, I was one of the founding members of its Diversity Committee (back then the focus was on diversity, as the emphasis on inclusion came later) and my work in this area then progressed over time.

I was, and continue to be, passionate about the work that I do, both as a member of the legal profession and as a parent.  I also hold a strong belief that it is important, particularly working within the legal profession, to be a role model and to be representative and inclusive of all the communities where we live and serve.

Were you put off from initially entering the legal profession because of its predominantly white, male reputation? 

No, although I do remember someone telling me that my decision to study law and become a lawyer was probably going to be more difficult for me as a woman and in particular a woman of colour. However, all this did was motivate me to work harder, determined to prove that I would not let the fact I was a woman of colour dictate what I could achieve. I was also lucky enough to work with other minority lawyers early in my career who helped me tremendously and have become my lifelong friends. It was an early lesson in the power of mentorship and collaboration.

Tell us about your role now

I am currently the Director of Global D&I at Baker McKenzie.  At Baker McKenzie we have diversity and inclusion committees in many offices around the world, from Spain to Tokyo, Hong Kong to Johannesburg, from London to Chicago – our reach is refreshingly global. With such a large global mandate, my remit is extensive, but supported by members of the D&I team and other talented colleagues around the firm. As a firm we enjoy and benefit from strong leadership, starting with our global chair Paul Rawlinson, as well the Chair of our Global D&I Committee Constanze Ulmer-Eilfort, who are also a members of the firm’s executive committee. Our Global D&I committee is composed of passionate senior representatives from each region of the firm and we proudly work as a team to achieve the firm’s objectives and goals.

What do you think the biggest challenge is to effecting genuine, long-lasting change on race equality in the legal profession? 

I don’t believe that it’s one specific thing, but a wave of things that need to happen on multiple levels. Setting goals and accountability is paramount. There is a lot of focus on recruitment, retention and advancement of women and ethnic minority  and LGBT+ lawyers, which of course is critical. A recent initiative by the firm is our participation in the Mansfield 2.0 pilot to promote greater diversity in our senior recruitment and leadership candidate pools. Under Mansfield, candidate pools for senior hiring and promotion seek to be 30 per cent diverse, defined as women, ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT+ community.  In addition to this, we must look carefully at our internal systems for unconscious bias.

Another area of importance is to engage with members of the legal community, such as bar associations and non profit organizations, as well as with our clients and corporations to advance D&I goals within the  broader legal and business communities.

What’s been your career highlight to date? 

I am fortunate to have had many wonderful opportunities as both a lawyer and a diversity professional.  What stands out most to me are the incredible friendships I have made along the way, the support I have received and the amazing people I have been honored to work with. I have seen a great deal of change over the past 27 years of my legal career, but the pace has been much slower than what is needed to achieve full diversity and inclusion in the profession, in particular among ethnic minority lawyers.

Who’s your biggest role model? 

My first role model was my mother, a woman of integrity, intelligence and dignity.  She also had a wonderful sense of humor and extraordinary resilience.  As a diversity professional and woman of color I stand on the shoulders of many people, to whom I am most grateful. Those who have paved the way, large and small, sometimes by just showing up and working hard.

What advice would you give to aspiring BAME lawyers entering the profession now? 

Be fearless. There are no limitations. It is important to work hard and hone your legal skills, but to also be confident in your abilities to achieve your goals. I am inspired each day by my two daughters. They are in high school and college and are fearless with respect to what they can accomplish which is so exciting for our future.

Anna Brown is global director of diversity and inclusion at Baker McKenzie

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A&O has largest law firm flex offering with £25m UK turnover

Allen & Overy’s (A&O) contract lawyers arm Peerpoint is the largest revenue generator of any law firm-linked flexible working service, with a UK revenue of £25m in 2017/18, it can be revealed.

Peerpoint’s rapid growth since launching five years ago is a clear indication of a change in sentiment towards the use of contract lawyers and alternative legal services providers (ALSPs) more generally. Its financial results are included in this year’s UK 200 report for the first time in a ranking of some of the market’s largest ALSPs by their UK revenue.

The new data includes Axiom’s UK revenue of almost £50m (£49m) and PwC’s UK legal services revenue of £70m, a figure revealed by The Lawyer over the summer that would put it at number 53 in the main UK 200 list.

It also includes estimated UK legal services revenue for around a dozen alternative providers such as EY and KPMG, Exigent, Elevate, UnitedLex and LOD.

As this year’s UK 200 report confirms, many of these businesses are firmly in growth mode. Peerpoint has boosted the number of lawyers on its books by more than 50 per cent over the past year and is currently targeting overseas expansion, with New York and Frankfurt launches particularly in its sights.

Its growth underlines the maturity of several New Law businesses, a theme echoed by the report which highlights some of the year’s key events. For example, this was the year when EY made its shock announcement that it was buying NewLaw stalwart Riverview Law.

As EY partner Matthew Kellett tweeted that day, “So, we’ve acquired Riverview – you weren’t expecting that. Watch this space – lines are being drawn.”

The lines may be being drawn but they are also blurring between NewLaw and the growing number of traditional firms that have their own related flexible offering.

The best-known (not including the legacy BLP-owned LOD) include Peerpoint, Pinsent Masons’ Vario and Eversheds Sutherland’s Agile. All are now thought to be significant revenue generators for their respective firms although none would go on the record about the level of fee income.

The Lawyer estimates Vario contributed around £7m in 2017/18 of the £8.3m total generated by Pinsents’ NewLaw revenues (comprising a mix of Vario, diversity consultancy Brook Graham, legal outsourcing start-up Yuzu and online compliance solutions business Cerico, which it sold to Dow Jones this March).

Director Matthew Kay said the past few years had been a “period of transition” both for Vario and the contract lawyer business, but that this was just the start.

“We’re in for another busy period, and there’s likely to be further consolidation in the market,” said Kay. “There’s an ever-greater adoption of freelancers and contractors, that market is roaring ahead. We’ve seen substantial growth and the pace is increasing.”

Peerpoint’s managing director Ben Williams confirmed that EY’s acquisition of Riverview highlighted the growing maturity of a range of NewLaw businesses.

“We’re coming to a stage where a lot of the entrants have built up credible businesses and are looking at what comes next,” said Williams. “You struggle to scale. If you’re a client you can go to all sorts of places these days but a growing number like the idea of coming to one place for all sorts of service. It’s helpful to them not having to manage a portfolio of providers. That can be wasted effort and quite hard work. Clients are sophisticated but having an element of simplicity never hurts.”

In what is a period of significant activity for PwC’s legal operations it also recently launched its own flexible resourcing arm, called Flexible Legal Resources (FLR).

“We now have a bench of around 1,000 lawyers on FLR,” revealed PwC’s UK legal group head Ed Stacey. “With the PwC brand coupled with the quality of the people we have, we feel it’s a premium service.”

In contrast to these law firm (or accountant)-linked contract lawyer providers, several of the best-known standalone businesses are surprisingly small in terms of revenue. Halebury has around 45 lawyers and a UK turnover of £4m but founder Janvi Patel said it is gearing up to be as much as 80 next year, with an expected corresponding doubling of revenue to £8m.

“We’re getting 50 CVs a month and we take three,” said Patel. “Lawyers are looking for a different way of working, more career management, the right fit. Also, clients are demanding it. We have more than enough work to fill that need.”

Similarly, Obelisk founder Dana Denis-Smith confirmed the growth in the market and underlined the reasons why it was critical for a business such as hers.

“Our offering has always been for very large corporates where quality control is key, so we needed enough people who were good enough to work in that environment,” said Denis-Smith. “The catalyst came from a meeting with the GC of one of the big banks, back when we were around 100 people. ‘That’s too little for me’ said the GC, so we ramped up recruitment. I brought in more people to process more people. That conversation made me realise the opportunity on the client side, and that to push the business out to lawyers beyond the M25 we needed much bigger scale and more capacity.”

Obelisk now has the largest legal talent pool in the UK with 1,500 lawyers from City law firms or the in-house teams of large businesses.

The UK market now features a growing number of alternative providers that provide a growing roster of services such as consultancy and e-Discovery.

Exigent, for example, is on a roll not least because of its use of tech and broad client base of corporates and law firms. In its most recent financial year total revenue was up by 46 per cent globally with around 35 per cent year-on-year growth in the UK. The latter contributes some 28 per cent of total revenue, or around $15m (£11.6m).

Exigent CEO David Holme said the business was seeing “a significant surge” in business across all of the jurisdictions in which it operates including Canada, the US, Australia and the UK.

Another operation that has until now been largely under the radar in the UK is managed services provider UnitedLex. That changed last month when the firm secured a $500m investment from European private equity giant CVC, thought to be the largest investment in the legal market ever.

For more information about the content of The Lawyer UK 200 ranking please contact Matt Byrne on 0207 970 4558 or matt.byrne@centaurmedia.com.

To purchase any of the UK 200 series please contact the team at market.reports@thelawyer.com or call 020 7970 4275.

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Loyens & Loeff’s banking partner relocates to its London office

By Marc Klerks, Willem Jarigsma 

Willem Jarigsma, banking partner, has relocated to the London offices of Loyens & Loeff. He replaces Vincent Vroom who rejoins the firm’s restructuring practice in Amsterdam. Willem Jarigsma, managing partner of the firm from April 2014 until April 2018, joins tax partner Marc Klerks who also recently moved to London.

Willem, who has headed the firm’s banking practice for many years, is mainly involved in bank lending transactions, particularly, asset based lending and transportation finance. In London, his primary responsibility will be to maintain and build relationships with the firm’s clients in the UK and with law firms based in London. Marc, who was previously based in the New York and London office, currently heads the tax practice of the London office again.

Willem Jarigsma: “The mission of the London office is to highlight our tax and legal strengths to clients. The aim is to have the London office act as a hub where specialists from our offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland meet with existing and potential clients. Marc and I will focus on strengthening the Loyens & Loeff brand and to make sure the depth and breadth of our offering is known and understood throughout the UK. The good thing is: we do not start from scratch; we recently celebrated our 25th anniversary in London and much has been achieved in those years already.”

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Schoenherr’s lead counsel advises Aves on the acquisition financing of NACCO/CIT Group

By Peter Feyl, Ursula Rath, Denisa Lazarescu

Schoenherr, acting as lead counsel for the financing, successfully advised Aves One AG (“Aves”) on the financing of the acquisition of the NACCO/CIT Group. On 1 October 2018, Aves closed the NACCO/CIT Group transaction by acquiring 100% of NACCO Luxembourg S.à r.l. with around 4,400 freight cars, which will be managed by renowned Swiss freight car lessor Wascosa AG.

The financing consists of a senior facility provided by KfW-IPEX Bank to the target, and additional financing of the acquisition company by three German pension funds. Schoenherr advised Aves on the terms and conditions of both the senior financing and the junior financing including a comprehensive security package. Additionally, Schoenherr also assisted in structuring the intercreditor relationship between senior and junior lenders. As a result of this transaction, Aves has doubled the number of freight cars it owns to around 8,900 and the group’s asset portfolio significantly exceeds EUR 750m.

Aves One AG is a strongly growing asset owner in the area of long-life logistics assets with a focus on rail freight wagons. The Aves portfolio also includes standard shipping containers, swap bodies for road transport, and logistics real estate properties. Its end customers include state-owned railway companies, industrial and logistics businesses. The Hamburg-based company is listed on the regulated market (Prime Standard) of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Schoenherr recently advised Aves on a EUR 155m senior facility refinancing with a consortium of leading banks.

The Schoenherr core team which advised Aves consisted of Ursula Rath and Peter Feyl (both co-lead and banking & finance partners) as well as Laurenz Schwitzer (attorney, banking & finance). The core team was supported by Alexandra Doytchinova (partner, corporate/m&a), Miriam Simsa (partner, banking & finance), and Wolfgang Hellsberg (associate, banking & finance).

Aves was advised Huth Dietrich Hahn (Hamburg) and Molitor (Luxembourg). Wascosa AG’s legal counsel was Bird & Bird (Frankfurt am Main). KfW-IPEX Bank were supported by CMS Hamburg while the pension funds were advised by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle (Frankfurt am Main).

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Tchenguiz costs rise to £24m after withdrawing “failed” claim

The withdrawal of Robert Tchenguiz’s accusations against the accountancy firm Grant Thornton and a number of other businesses will cost the property mogul nearly £24m as a result of a High Court judgment passed down yesterday. Mr Justice Robin Knowles ordered Tchenguiz to pay £11.2m to Travers Smith client Jóhannes Jóhannsson of the collapsed Icelandic bank […]

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Wave of partners call time on Goodwin Procter

Corporate duo Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley are leaving Goodwin Procter after a two year stint at the firm, The Lawyer understands, just days after the US firm lost a tax partner to Greenberg Traurig. Soundy installed himself at Goodwin in 2016, following three and a half years at Shearman & Sterling, where he was global co-head of private […]

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