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Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) lateral hiring strategy is plain to see. Since before the downturn the firm has been paying whatever it takes to recruit the partners it wants - and more often than not it wants partners from the magic circle and top US firms.
In 2009, for example, hires included Andrew Bamber and Sidney Myers from Allen & Overy (A&O); Nic Fletcher from Clifford Chance; Raymond McKeeve from Kirkland & Ellis (via Robert Tchenguiz’s vehicle R20); and Graham Shear from Teacher Stern.
Indeed, BLP has taken partners from many of the top practices in the UK but its most fertile hunting ground of late has been Linklaters.
Most recently - in February and April respectively - BLP hired retired global corporate head David Barnes and finance partner Claire Watson from Linklaters in London.
In the past 12 months it has launched offices in Berlin and Frankfurt on the back of two partner and two associate hires from Linklaters Germany. It also launched in Hong Kong after it hired a Linklaters counsel, and secured a banking and finance associate in Russia and a construction associate in Abu Dhabi, both from the magic circle monolith.
Certainly, those hires must have been attracted by the brand and platform BLP has built. At least some must also have been encouraged seeing former top Linklaters partners at their prospective new home, such as real estate partner James Knox and head of finance Matthew Kellett.
Now it looks like a similar pattern may be about to emerge with A&O.
BLP has hired a number of A&O partners over the years and, in December 2011, energy and infrastructure partner Andrei Baev, who spent time in A&O’s Moscow office, made the crossing.
The trend continued with the addition of senior associates Nomita Nair and, via Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld where he was a counsel, Kyle Davis. Funnily enough, Nair was an energy and infrastructure lawyer at A&O and Davis based in Moscow.