Five firms fall prey to Lovells' latest worldwide hiring spree

A HIRING spree has seen Lovell White Durrant take on five partners from five separate firms – one of whom will head a new office in Singapore.

Clifford Chance, Holman Fenwick & Willan, Stephenson Harwood and Masons have all lost partners to the firm.

As well as taking on corporate and finance partner Paul Supramaniam from Holman Fenwick to set up an office in Singapore, Lovells has poached Stephensons' former head of corporate finance Richard Ufland in London, hired a US partner in New York to start an insurance and reinsurance practice in that city and laterally hired two new partners in Hong Kong from Clifford Chance and Masons.

The Singapore move was planned before the Asian crisis. Senior partner Andrew Walker said: “We have not been deflected from this by reason of the problems out there.” John Pheasant, the firm's international partner, added: “Our clients have been pressing us to open in Singapore.”

In Singapore, Supramaniam will be joined by newly-made up London banking partner Philip Robb and by insolvency partner Richard Shean – there on a temporary secondment.

Joining the Hong Kong office are banking and project finance specialist John Hartley from Clifford Chance and contentious construction expert Tim Hill from Masons.

Project finance work has all but ended in parts of the Far East, but Walker said Hartley would be doing finance and project work on the Chinese mainland, which had been less affected by currency collapses.

In New York the firm has recruited US insurance and reinsurance litigation partner Gary Lee from its medium-sized neighbours Barger & Wolen.

It is thought that Lee became disaffected when, after his firm merged, many new insurance clients arrived and the work conflicted with his work litigating for reinsurance clients.

Lovells is bolstering Lee's presence in New York by moving insurance litigation partner Gail Goering from the Chicago office with an associate and two further associates who will be laterally hired in the city.

The move is an expansion of the firm's existing US reinsurance practice, currently based only in Chicago, into New York – the strategic centre for US insurance and reinsurance work.

In London, Richard Ufland's forthcoming departure from Stephenson Harwood comes only five months after its head of corporate affairs Michael Walter went to Herbert Smith. He was followed five weeks ago when corporate partner Victoria Younghusband went to Lawrence Graham.

Stephensons is seen by many as being more shipping oriented than corporate but chief executive John Pike argued: “That's a total load of rubbish,” adding that the truth “will come out in the months to come”.