Chinese Firm Jun He Recruits Two New Partners

By Anna Zhang

China’s Jun He has recruited two new partners in its Beijing and Shanghai offices.

Capital markets partner Shelly Sun joins the firm in Beijing. Sun was most recently general counsel of New York Stock Exchange-listed Yirendai, a Beijing-based online peer-to-peer financial service company. She worked on the company’s U.S. listing and related matters, including pre-IPO private placement, the initial public offering in November last year and post-IPO regulatory compliance issues.

Sun joined Yirendai earlier in 2015 from King & Wood Mallesons, where she had been an associate for five years. Before that, she practiced at Nixon Peabody and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, after receiving an LL.M. from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. She started her career at Jun He in 2004.

Trade disputes partner David Tang joins the firm’s office in Shanghai. Tang specializes in international trade disputes, having represented Chinese companies in anti-dumping and Section 337 intellectual property claims before the U.S. International Trade Commission. He also advises multinational companies on Chinese regulatory and compliance work.

Tang joined Jun He from Shanghai-based trade boutique Huang Shan & Co, where he had been a partner since 2004 when a group of trade lawyers led by partner Huang Shan left Zhong Lun Law Firm to start their own practice. He was seconded to Steptoe & Johnson briefly in 2005. Before joining Zhong Lun, the team, including Tang, practiced at Hong Kong firm Deacons.

Tang’s hire follows Jun He’s loss of former international trade partner Ruixue Ran —one of the top Chinese lawyers specializing in Section 337 investigations—to Covington & Burling earlier last year.

Beijing-based Jun He has about 400 lawyers in nine offices, including two U.S. outposts in New York and Palo Alto.

(Source: The Asian Lawyer)

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Bakers hits five-year high with 8 per cent revenue boost to $2.6bn

By Natasha Bernal

Baker & McKenzie’s turnover grew by 8 per cent to $2.62bn (£1.99bn) last year, reaching a five-year high after a disappointing 4 per cent drop in global revenue from $2.54bn to $2.43bn in 2014/15.

The 2015/16 results represent a revenue increase of 13.9 per cent in the last five years, from £2.3bn to £2.62bn.

Bakers_turnover

Net profit grew by 14 per cent to $904m last year, while profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 13 per cent to $1.3m.

This also represented a five-year high for the firm, with growth of 19 per cent since 2011/12 from $1.09m to $1.3m.

Billable hours saw a 5 per cent year-on-year increase to 8.2 million last year.

Bakers_PEP

Total staff headcount as of 30 June 2016 was 12,066 compared to 11,336 the year before. Of these 6,045 were fee-earners.

Last year marked the last financial year with global chairman Eduardo Leite at the helm. London managing partner Paul Rawlinson was confirmed as the firm’s first UK-based global chair in June following a partner election after a four-way leadership race.

“I expect Paul to continue the strategy but with a better focus, as he is a creative IP lawyer, with a greater focus on clients,” Leite told The Lawyer, adding he expected further growth in the US in 2017. Leite confirmed he is not planning to retire when he hands over to Rawlinson, but declined to specify what his next position will be.

Speaking of the recent financial results, he said: “We have stronger footprint, our investments have been amortised. We have a strong client programme and conferences. We have done a lot for diversity and inclusion. I’m very proud of that.”

During the last financial year Baker & McKenzie lost several key partners including EMEA M&A chair Sönke Becker to Herbert Smith Freehills in Germany, Hong Kong arbitration head James Kwan to Hogan Lovells, and former Yangon managing partner Chris Hughes to Berwin Leighton Paisner. In London, the firm lost litigation partner Tom Cassels to Linklaters.

The firm made a total of 65 lateral partner hires across its network last year, and promoted a further 85 lawyers to partner. Leite focused on transactional work, M&A, private equity, banking and competition in 2015/16, also growing its tax, compliance and investigations practices.

By geography, EMEA and the Americas continued to be Bakers’ biggest revenue generators, both bringing in 37 per cent of turnover last year, while Asia Pacific generated 26 per cent of revenue.

All of the firm’s regions grew turnover by more than 10 per cent in 2015/16 on a constant currency basis.

“London performed very well,” Leite said, “but that was all practically pre-Brexit. There were some areas where we saw a slowdown, like capital markets and M&A because of our footprint.

“I don’t expect our London office to be as affected as it would be for a more domestic firm. It’s not immune, but it’s protected because of our diverse market position,” he added.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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DWF’s turnover drops to £187m despite international expansion

By Jonathon Manning

DWF’s revenue fell by 2 per cent to £187.1m last year despite the firm working to grow its international presence through a series of mergers and office openings.

The drop follows a run of slow growth at the firm in recent years. During 2014/15 DWF’s revenue grew by 1 per cent from £189m.

The firm is well known for its aggressive expansion strategy, which caused revenue to soar by 84 per cent in 2012/13 and 167 per cent over four years between 2009 and 2013.

The latest results mean that DWF has missed its £200m turnover target for the third year in a row.

Despite the fall in turnover DWF’s profit increased by 4 per cent, from £21.1m in 2014/15 to £22m last year. As a result the firm’s average profit per equity partner (PEP) has also increased by 2 per cent to £331,000.

DWF’s UK operations generated £183.3m last year. The firm’s UK PEP and net profit also grew by 2 per cent and now stand at £330,000 and £21.5m respectively.

Managing partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland said DWF had managed to increase its profits by “investing in its international offices” and restructuring its business to adapt to changes in the insurance market.

DWF opened three offices overseas last year in Dubai, Brussels and German, moving away from its traditional strategy of focusing on growth in the UK and Ireland.

Its Dubai office, which opened with four lawyers and is led by non-marine insurance partner Chris Ryan, was opened to support clients in the construction, energy, insurance and transport sectors.

The firm later announced it was opening its second overseas office in Brussels. The office specialises in central and local government, food and retail, transport and energy, and industrial sectors. The office is led by EU and competition head Jonathan Branton.

DWF also opened its doors in Germany after merging with local boutique BridgehouseLaw. The merger was expected to increase DWF’s turnover by £3m and went live on 1 January.

Speaking to The Lawyer in June Leaitherland confirmed rumours that DWF was in talks to open a second Middle East office in the Qatari capital, Doha. He also added the firm was looking to open additional offices in Europe but that board members were divided on when to launch as a result of Brexit.

DWF also recently announced that it is set to acquire boutique firm Fox Hartley to boost its insurance offering in Bristol. Fox Hartley has 16 staff and lawyers including three partners.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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DLA Piper boosts international turnover 4% to £769m

By Jonathon Manning

DLA Piper boosted international turnover by 4 per cent last year to £768.8m.

The international figures relate to all of DLA’s offices outside of the US, including its UK business.

Net profit was also up by 2.5 per cent to £159.4m, while average profit per equity partner (PEP) climbed nearly 3 per cent to £693,000.

DLA’s international PEP is still significantly lower than the firm’s global PEP, which stands at £908,000.

The results follow the firm overhauling the way it reports its financials outside of the US. For the first time DLA has reported its international results based on a financial, rather than calendar, year. It has also changed the way it calculates equity headcount, now classing equity partners as only those who receive above 300 points, or around £300,000.

In February DLA revealed its global revenue had broken through the $2.5bn barrier for the first time. Global turnover grew by 2.5 per cent, from $2.48bn to $2.54bn.

Over the last year the firm has boosted its presence in the Nordic region, merging with Finnish firm Peltonen LMR then with Swedish firm Grönberg Advokatbyrå.

In May DLA said it would cut 200 jobs across its UK business services function amid plans to move its back office centre to Warsaw. The redundancy consultation affected members of the firm’s IT, finance, HR, marketing and business development, and secretarial teams.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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HFW profits rebound with 11 per cent jump to £42m

By Yun Kriegler

Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has reported a strong year for net profit, which increased by 11 per cent to £42.1m in 2015/16.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) also grew last year although it still lags behind its high of £545,000 in 2013/14. PEP now stands at £519,000, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year.

Revenue increased by 3 per cent last year to £141.1m, up from £139m. HFW has been pushing to get its financials back on track after a dramatic reduction in both its top and bottom line in 2014/15, when revenue and profit fell 3 per cent and PEP dropped by 9 per cent.

HFW’s revenue and profit growth was achieved in a year that saw the firm make a large number of lateral hires and continue its expansion in China, Singapore and the Middle East through local associations.

Lateral hires in London last year include trade finance partner Philip Prowse from Clyde & Co, trade finance partner Stephen Marais from Ince & Co, insurance partner Christopher Cardona, who joined from Chadbourne & Parke, and corporate partners Giles Beale and James Wilson from Reed Smith.

In Asia Pacific the firm has also been expanding with lateral hires and team bolt-ons, including taking a seven-lawyer asset finance team led by two partners from Berwin Leighton Paisner in Singapore and Hong Kong.

HFW also sealed a number of local tie-ups in both Asia and the Middle East last year. In China, it became the second international firm to enter into a formal association with a Chinese firm under the Shanghai Free Trade Zone pilot scheme after Baker & McKenzie made a similar move. Its local partner firm Wintell & Co is a 20-partner boutique firm focusing on shipping, insurance and corporate law.

In Singapore, the firm launched a formal law alliance (FLA) with Singaporean firm AsiaLegal in July 2015. In the Middle East, the firm established three new associations at the beginning of this year to strengthen its offering in Riyadh, Beirut and Kuwait City, bringing its total number of lawyers working in the region to 40.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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Linklaters’ PEP jumps to £1.45m as turnover grows 3%

By Tabby Kinder

Linklaters has become the third magic circle firm to post its 2015/16 financial results, reporting a 3.1 per cent rise in turnover to £1.31bn.

Net profit has also jumped to a record high, up 6.8 per cent to £612m for 2015/16, while average profit per equity partner (PEP) is up 2.5 per cent to £1.45m.

The increases follow a slower year for growth in 2014/15, when the firm posted a 1 per cent revenue rise to £1.27bn. Net profit for that financial year was up 3 per cent to £573m.

Both PEP and net profit are now comfortably above pre-crisis levels, while revenue is edging closer to Linklaters’ record year in 2007/08 when it turned over £1.54bn.

The results are similar to that of Clifford Chance, which posted a 2.6 per cent jump in revenue to £1.39bn on Wednesday (6 July). Profit and PEP were both up almost 10 per cent to £494m and £1.23m respectively.

Allen & Overy recorded a weaker financial year, with static PEP of £1.2m and a 2.3 per cent increase in revenue to £1.31bn.

Equity spread was also up at Linklaters in the last financial year. Partners at the bottom end of the equity received £745,000 last year, a 4.8 per cent rise on the previous year. Meanwhile plateau partners received £1.86m, a 3.3 per cent increase.

The financial results follow a dramatic 12 months at the magic circle firm. Former managing partner Simon Davies revealed he was stepping down one year early on the same day as the firm released its financial results last year.

Davies has now joined Lloyds Bank with former banking head Gideon Moore filling his shoes. Earlier this year M&A star Charlie Jacobs was elected senior partner and will take over from Robert Elliott in October.

Speaking to The Lawyer about the financial results, Moore said there had been a “great effort across the board on a practice and geographic basis” over the last year.

“Areas that were particularly strong were M&A, projects, disputes, TMT, IP and regulatory,” he added.

By region, he said south east Asia had shown “encouraging growth”, Russia had a “good year compared to previous years”, and London was particularly strong.

“If you’re looking at deals done around the globe that underpin our performance, both Deutsche Börse and SABMiller are in our top 10,” Moore added.

In the first six months of his leadership, Moore launched a review of Linklaters’ 2,000-staff business services function and signed a landmark deal with AI provider Ravn.

The firm also made the decision to spin off its current PRC lawyer contingent in China in favour of the group launching an independent firm that could enter into a joint venture with Linklaters four years down the line.

Planning for the next few years, Moore said: “I need to have a think about the impact of [the Brexit] decision on our budgets.

“We’re budgeting for a small increase in revenue in the current year – a bit higher than last year.”

Since he took over the top job, speculation that Moore has set his sights on a US merger have been rife. Jacobs’ victory in the senior partner race has also led to renewed discussions about the possibility of breaking lockstep in London in order to attract star partner hires from US firms. Linklaters has been much slower than its magic circle rivals to flex its lockstep over the last 18 months.

Linklaters has seen a number of departures in the last financial year, most notably a string of private equity partners to Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin.

It also made some significant hires including Baker & McKenzie disputes veteran Tom Cassels in November.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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Freshfields tops magic circle PEP with 8% rise to £1.47m

By Tabby Kinder

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has seen a return to form in 2015/16, posting a 6.6 per cent rise in global revenue to £1.33bn.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) was up 7.6 per cent to £1.47m while net profit rose 7.5 per cent to £617m.

The financial results see Freshfields recover from a slower year previously when revenue grew by just 1 per cent to £1.245bn, while net profit dropped 1 per cent to £574m.

Freshfields’ PEP is now above Linklaters’ once more after Linklaters overtook it in 2014/15 when its PEP jumped to £1.42m. Linklaters is yet to report its 2015/16 financial results.

Freshfields is the third magic circle firm to post its results, marking an overall strong year for the group so far. Clifford Chance saw global net profit grow by almost 10 per cent to £494m, while revenue climbed 2.6 per cent to £1.39m. Clifford Chance’s PEP now stands at £1.23m, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

Meanwhile Allen & Overy’s global revenue increased 2.3 per cent last year to £1.31bn while PEP stayed largely the same at £1.2m.

On a currency-adjusted basis, Freshfields said last year’s revenue was up 3.8 per cent to £1.29bn with net profit rising 4.3 per cent to £599.4m, and PEP up 4.4 per cent to £1.429m.

The firm’s growth continues a steady upwards incline over the last four years following three years of sharp contraction. Like most of its magic circle peers, Freshfields’ revenue fell sharply between 2008/09 and 2011/12, from £1.29bn to £1.14bn – a slide of 11.5 per cent. However the firm has been steadily pushing up revenue since posting an uptick of 7.2 per cent to £1.22bn in 2012/13.

Freshfields has been making a number of pushes towards greater global efficiency in the last financial year following the election of new co-managing and senior partners Edward Braham, Chris Pugh and Stephan Eilers, who officially took over in January.

Eilers attributed growth to a continued push in high value M&A, particularly China outbound work into Europe, growth in Freshfields’ finance and regulatory/EU practices, and the launch of its Manchester base last year.

The firm launched its Manchester legal services and back office support hub last summer, signing a £2.7m lease on a permanent home in Salford. The centre is expected to grow to a headcount of 800-staff over the next two years, a target Eilers said was “on track”.

Eilers said Manchester “was still an investment” last year and has generated revenue in the “low two-digit million pounds”. He added the centre will “be closer to breaking even” in the current financial year.

“Manchester is essentially a start-up operation that had changed the spirit of the firm a little bit as well,” Eilers said. Freshfields is now set to open a second global legal services centre in Vancouver before the end of the year.

The firm is also understood to be reducing the number of partners it makes up globally each year, consolidating its smaller practice groups such as IP into the wider umbrellas of corporate and litigation, and moving a number of partners onto a “second tier” lockstep ladder to free up points for star performers and lateral hires.

“Manchester is taking hold of our efficiency issues,” Eilers said.

Regarding Britain’s decision to leave the EU, Eilers said the referendum “has not been a fall over the cliff” for Freshfields.

He added: “Even the transactional markets have held up pretty nicely.

“On a strategy basis we’ll continue US growth, continue the Manchester centre’s efficiency growth, continue China outbound, and continue to be on the side of the client in the Brexit crash.

“We are not so shocked or influenced by the Brexit decision,” Eilers continued. “Everything is a challenge but times of challenge are normally not so bad for lawyers who are active in these areas.

“I’m pretty optimistic London will keep the European hub financial status, but in what kind of regime we really don’t know.”

(Source: The Lawyer)

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Ashurst PEP drops 8 per cent as turnover falls to £533m

By Rachel Moloney

Ashurst’s profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped 8 per cent over 2015/16 from £775,000 to £716,000, while revenue fell 4 per cent from £558m to £533m.

The results have been reported on a like-for-like basis, taking account of movements in foreign exchange rates.

New managing partner Paul Jenkins said the firm’s financials were affected by “a weakening against the pound sterling of key currencies that are a significant part of our business”, while the “negative impact” of forex reduced revenue by 5 per cent.

In sterling terms, revenue was down nearly 10 per cent from £561m to £505m, with PEP showing a dramatic decrease of 19 per cent from £747,000 to £603,000.

The results mark the second year in a row in which PEP has declined at Ashurst. PEP dipped nearly 4 per cent over 2014/15, while turnover rose by a mere £3m.

“We’re not where we want to be,” chairman Ben Tidswell told The Lawyer.

“We set out with quite an ambitious plan and the market was unfriendly to us in terms of the slowdown in China and in the oil and gas sectors.”

Investments undertaken by Ashurst in the last financial year include innovation projects such as Ashurst Advance, as well as client investment through secondments and tactical pricing.

The investments are understood to have hampered Ashurst’s overall growth last year, although it did report good figures across Asia and continental Europe, particularly in Hong Kong and Paris.

Revenue from within the firm’s financial services groups also increased after being highlighted as one of the key areas to focus on in its strategic review last year.

Tidswell said “refreshing the management” of the firm has “made it feel quite different” and could have a positive impact on growth over the next few years. Ashurst’s board appointed Sydney-based Paul Jenkins as managing partner in April, while the firm also announced a new management structure last month.

“We’re not necessarily going to make more investments but we want to make the business work as a network,” Tidswell added. “We give partners a sustainable platform to work from and we want to maximise the efficiency of our business.”

Key mandates handled by Ashurst over 2015/16 including the Thames Tideway Tunnel and Gala Coral’s merger with Ladbrokes. It additionally won roles on Coca-Cola Enterprises’ and Nomura’s panel, as well as played a major role in £1.6bn professional negligence claim between PwC and Cattles.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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Clifford Chance profit jumps 10% as PEP hits £1.23m

By Tabby Kinder

Clifford Chance saw global net profit grow by almost 10 per cent last year following an increased push towards efficiency in real estate and business services under managing partner Matthew Layton.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) was up 10 per cent to £1.23m, a 23 per cent jump in PEP over the last three years. Revenue climbed 2.6 per cent to a record high for the firm of £1.386bn, while profit now sits at £494m.

The results follow a disappointing year in 2014/15 when global turnover dipped slightly to £1.35bn. Net profit and PEP also dropped that year to £450m and £1.12m respectively.

Clifford Chance is the second magic circle firm to report its financial results after Allen & Overy posted static PEP of £1.2m alongside a 2.3 per cent increase in revenue to £1.31bn.

By region Clifford Chance posted 13 per cent growth in its Americas business last year; a 9 per cent growth across Asia Pacific; a 7 per cent increase in turnover in the Middle East; a 2 per cent growth in the UK; and 4 per cent growth in continental Europe.

 

Layton attributed global growth to an uptick in high value cross-border mandates, particularly in its corporate transactional practice. More than 75 per cent of the firm’s top 50 clients now instruct it across at least 20 worldwide offices, while 96 per cent of top 25 clients use all of the firm’s practice areas.

Headline instructions in the last year include advising Anheuser-Busch InBev shareholders in relation to its bid for SAB Miller; advising Italy’s national postal service Poste Italiene on its IPO; advising EDF on proposals to invest £6bn in the Hinkley Point nuclear power project; and advising the Bank of China on its $3.55bn bond issuance.

In disputes, Clifford Chance represented Citi on its successful defence against Terra Firma’s £1.5bn lawsuit over EMI and represented Barclays on a number of Libor claims over the last 12 months.

A focus on improving efficiency in business services that saw Clifford Chance rehouse its 400-staff support function in a new Canary Wharf property last year also boosted its bottom line. Layton said the firm had “managed its cost base very effectively”, leading to a 1 per cent drop in costs last year despite an increase to lawyers’ salaries.

Layton said: “The practice areas all performed strongly, particularly with a strong transactional performance for much of last year. Finance and corporate were particularly strong, real estate continued to perform well, and the disputes, investigatory and regulatory teams also did well.

“I found the balance of strong performance across the geographies and practice areas very pleasing,” he added.

Growth in its Americas offices means the continent now contributes 13 per cent of global revenue at £175m. Layton said Clifford Chance currently has 73 partners in the US and will have “nearly 300 lawyers” by this autumn. Recent hires include federal prosecutor Dan Silver in March, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett arbitration counsel Janet Whittaker in June, and Dentons real estate partner Eddie Frastai in July.

The UK still contributes the greatest proportion of revenue at £489m or 35 per cent, while continental Europe contributes 33 per cent, or £452m. The European results are similar to the accounts in 2014/15 when revenue on the continent inched up by 1 per cent while the UK grew by 2 per cent.

Meanwhile Asia Pacific now contributes 16 per cent of global turnover at £224m. Layton said revenues in Asia had more than doubled in the last five years.

The firm is understood to have abandoned plans to find a Chinese merger partner earlier this year after failed talks with a handful of the country’s top-tier firms. Layton said the firm was now pursuing “continued organic development” in the country.

In Europe, Clifford Chance has seen some instability in its German offices in recent years following nine partners leaving across its three offices in the country in 2014 amid a “strategic review” of its operations.

Exits have notably slowed in the last financial year and Clifford Chance has begun building up the region, recently hiring Düsseldorf corporate head Anselm Raddatz from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The firm made considerable changes in Paris and London in 2015/16, including moving its Paris offices to a more cost-efficient location and subletting almost half of its Canary Wharf headquarters to Deutsche Bank, leading to around £7m of savings.

Layton has also been driving forward the firm’s focus on innovation in client delivery and technology last year, with the focus group headed up by Bas Boris Visser. Layton said Clifford Chance would “continue to invest” in innovation and “the use of technology is accelerating” at the firm, “bringing in additional skills to the team that are complementary to high-level legal skills.”

He added the combination of the firm’s “continuous improvement” programme with its investment in new technologies was a “key feature of strategy”.

Earlier this week Clifford Chance signed a deal with artificial intelligence provider Kira. It is the second magic circle firm to do such a deal after Linklaters partnered with Ravn earlier this year.

Planning for the future, Layton said: “Clients are now, more than ever, confronted with complex challenges that defy neat classifications and are in need of solutions and guidance that draws on a comprehensive understanding of the relevant issues from Brussels to Beijing.

“While I don’t expect the period ahead to be easy, I am confident that our firm has the capability, quality, platform and commitment to achieve our vision of being the global law firm of choice for our clients.”

(Source: The Lawyer)

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Herbert Smith Freehills’ PEP jumps to £840k in third year post-merger

By Tabby Kinder

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has turned over £870m in its third financial year since becoming a fully-merged firm, a rise of 6.7 per cent from 2014/15.

Profit was up 7.2 per cent to £278m, a 20 per cent jump over two years from £232m in 2013/14.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) grew to £840,000 last year – a rise of almost 5 per cent on the previous year. This represents a slightly slower growth than in 2014/15 when PEP was up 8 per cent to £801,000.

Joint CEO Sonya Leydecker said the financial results marked “the third consecutive year of significant progress for the firm”.

She added a highlight of the year was the performance of the firm’s global corporate practice, which advised on 100 cross-border deals worth $100bn “despite uncertainty in the world economy”.

Transactions included advising China’s Silk Road Fund on its €1bn acquisition of a stake in a Russian energy project; advising CMOC on its acquisition of a majority interest in Tenke Fungurume for $2.65bn – the largest mining deal of the year so far; and representing Element Financial Corporation on its $6.9bn acquisition of GE Capital.

Strengthening its cross-border mandates has been a major focus for the firm in the years since the merger. Leydecker said HSF’s “top 30 clients” now instruct the firm “across an average of nine offices”.

HSF’s disputes, finance and real estate practices all performed well, Leydecker added. The firm’s disputes team continued its defence of the Royal Bank of Scotland in its £4bn rights issue battle with shareholders last year, and successfully closed the UK’s first deferred prosecution for its client, ICBC Standard Bank.

The firm increased its number of panel appointments by 21 to 161 in the last financial year, now sitting on the legal panels of Weir Group, National Grid, Bank of Queensland and British Land for the first time.

By regional breakdown, joint CEO Mark Rigotti said Paris, Madrid and Germany “had exceptional years”, with London and Belfast also generating significant profits.

“Germany is an ongoing success story and has shown year-on-year growth, reflected by the opening of our third German office in Düsseldorf,” Rigotti added.

HSF opened in Düsseldorf in November – its fourth new base in the last financial year after also opening in Johannesburg and sealing alliances with Nasser Al-Hamdan in Riyadh and Prolegis LLC in Singapore.

The Riyadh alliance saw HSF return to Saudi Arabia after a gap of two years. It hired partners from White & Case and DLA Piper to co-run the office.

Rigotti said: “Confidence and momentum in the business are at an all-time high. We have a new strategy in place and our investments in three new offices, 16 partner hires and our flexible approach to servicing clients are all paying off.”

The bulk of HSF’s lateral hires in the last financial year took place in Germany, where the firm hired a nine-lawyer team from AGS Legal to launch a corporate crime and investigations practice. The mass hire also gifted HSF a major relationship with Ford for the first time.

HSF launched a new strategy for the future of the firm in April, following a “socialist” six-month consultation with partners and business services staff.

The strategy is named “Beyond 2020” and sees the firm “move away from the post-merger integration period” and into “implementation”, said Rigotti.

The new strategy focuses on five points: clients, sectors and products; people, performance and leadership; service delivery; innovation and technology; and platform.

More tangibly, the strategy will see the firm move away from the umbrella practice groups of corporate and litigation towards a structure that prioritises sectors. Rigotti said they wanted to make sure every lawyer at HSF is a “sector specialist”.

The priority sectors are: energy, banks, financial buyers, real estate, TMT, infrastructure and transport, mining, consumer products, pharma and healthcare.

The new strategy also aims to “strengthen the firm’s platform to support clients in key markets including Asia, EMEA and the US”. This could result in a number of new offices as well as growth in jurisdictions including South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

The strategy will also focus on growing HSF’s legal services centres in Belfast and Perth and roll out twice as many project managers across its global offices. This will be supported by a new focus on technology, innovation and remote working to facilitate more cross-border mandates.

HSF also intends to establish new legal services centres in the coming years, with plans to launch smaller additional centres across Europe and Asia.

(Source: The Lawyer)

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