A&O scoops Cravath star to boost NY

Allen & Overy (A&O) is dramatically increasing its New York presence, spearheading its expansion with a new senior partner from Cravath Swaine & Moore.

Leading M&A and derivatives lawyer Daniel Cunningham is joining the firm to help bring to fruition plans to increase the office's size by 300 per cent. He is believed to be the first partner ever to leave Wall Street giant Cravath for a rival practice.

Cunningham is rated globally for his M&A and derivatives practices. His clients include investment banks ABN Amro, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, telecoms group KPN, KLM airline and derivatives trade association ISDA, all of which already instruct A&O.

He has been a partner at Cravath for 18 years, and brings to A&O senior assistant Joshua Cohn, who will join as a partner. Cunningham's practice has a heavy European focus after he spent four years as the resident partner in Cravath's London office.

A&O senior partner Guy Beringer says: “It's fair to say that [Cunningham] has the leading international practice of any significant Wall Street lawyer, and that is what's distinctive about him. Out of any major Wall Street firm, he is

the one individual with the strongest European client base. That's why it links in to our strategic approach.”

Beringer says the firm wants to build an integrated global US practice through lateral hires, but he would not rule out a US merger in the long term.

Cunningham will become the senior partner of the New York office and will run the New York M&A practice and co-head the firm's international US law group. The group boasts more than 120 lawyers and is currently headed by Jeff Golden, who joined as a partner in 1994 from Cravath, where he was senior assistant. He worked with Cunningham in the firm's London office and was largely responsible for his recruitment.

Cravath operates a lockstep compensation system, with average profits per partner for 1999 of $2,110,000 (£1.5m). A&O's average profits per partner for the year 1999-2000 were half that at £744,000.

A&O has around 50 lawyers in New York, but has just signed up for new space to house 150 (The Lawyer, 22 January).

The Lawyer understands that A&O expects to announce the arrival of a third US partner for Cunningham's team imminently.