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Kaye Scholer plans to capitalise on the continuing lull in the UK economy to bolster its corporate practice in the City.
The firm last week announced the arrival of DLA Piper private equity head Andrew Harris, who has been brought in to spearhead a recruitment drive in London. While the firm has taken a low-key approach since opening in London 10 years ago, the capital now represents a key part of its global strategy.
Senior figures believe a downturn is the best time to recruit. Co-managing partner Michael Solow said: “We’ve had a presence in London for almost 10 years, and our experience as a firm is that the best time to grow the business is when markets are in a downturn.
“That’s when talented people who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise move are exploring options, and we’re happy to take the opportunity to provide the protection many lawyers look for in these cycles.”
The London practice will focus on private equity and M&A, complementing the firm’s practices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Shanghai. It has ruled out developing a litigation practice, but as well as serving its US client base the firm hopes to attract new clients in the UK and Europe.
Last month the firm lost one of its biggest billers, New York-based bankruptcy specialist Margot Schonholtz, who left the firm to join Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Solow denies her departure will have a long-term effect.
“We rarely have partners leave the firm,” he said. “Margot was a great part of our insolvency and bankruptcy practice but we continue to successfully represent the same clients. We had a successful practice before I arrived and before Margot arrived, and even long after I retire, we will continue to be successful.”
Meanwhile, DLA Piper has announced that Harris will be replaced by Will Rosen as the new EMEA private equity chief.