Grapevine

Paul Hastings’ property dept down in the dumps


Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker implemented desperate PR techniques last week in a bid to pull itself back from the blow of losing highly rated property partner Jeffrey Bailey to DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary.

Keen to turn the tide of this month’s troubling news, the firm claimed that its London office was booming – in particular the employment law department. The firm exalted the hire of former Allen & Overy associate Chris Bracebridge, who joined the firm on 6 February, and the promotion of Ray Wann to of counsel.

There is no question of Bracebridge’s and Wann’s talents and the benefit their appointments are sure to have brought to the firm.

Nevertheless, this is unlikely to comfort Paul Hastings’ significant property clients such as Lehman Brothers now that the London office is home to only one property partner. And Mark Eagan’s time must be stretched at best, given that he also has to manage the firm’s London office. Booming?

Electra: counsel with no teeth wanted

Mid-market private equity house Electra Partners Europe is searching for its first in-house counsel. But before corporate types start rushing to draft a CV, beware: the ambitious position will not have any deal-facing responsibilities for the “foreseeable future”.

Like many private equity firms, Electra has decided to go down the route of focusing its in-house legal capability on company secretary and compliance issues rather than more enticing transactional work.

Disappointing for those looking for a change in career track, although it could signal a win for those remaining in private practice. A spokesman for Electra admitts freely that “in the absence of this role, we expect to have to spend more on external law firms”. Good news for Ashurst, then.

But with private equity funds taking an increasing involvement in mainstream M&A, it’s doubtful that they can continue to be supported by such minimal in-house capabilities.

7 New Square lacks IP strategy in namesake merger

It was farewell to one of Lincoln’s Inn’s old stalwarts this week as the six-tenant IP set based at 7 New Square merged with its downstairs neighbour, also 7 New Square. The merger might make sense geographically and it will be a huge help to postmen and couriers, but it makes less sense strategically.

The IP set at 7 New Square was once a leader in its field, but in recent years it has dropped off the pace and lost profile. It has also lost members, with the most recent departures seeing Mark Engleman and Ian Silcock head across the square to Hardwicke Building to start up an IP team.

Merging with a set that undertakes predominantly employment and immigration law will not resolve profile issues in the IP field. It will take a lot of hard work on the part of all concerned to make this particular tie-up succeed.