Richards Butler rejects private practice for top in-house talent

Richards Butler is rejecting traditional private practice lateral hires in favour of taking on in-house counsel.

Chris Schulten, chief executive at Richards Butler, says the firm is increasingly turning to in-house counsel rather than private practice for new blood.

He says: “It is not a usual direction and you do not see a lot of it.

“People are not sure if [an in-house lawyer] is as used to operating in a way as lawyers in private practice operate.”

“But all lawyers, whether in private practice or in-house are in the same profession.” The only real difference, Schulten adds, “is about how people use their skills”.

The firm is taking on Graham Simkin, the former chairman and chief executive at Groupe TAI.

Simkin will join Richards Butler as a partner to oversee the development of the firm's IP department.

He leaves Groupe TAI after French communications and environmental giant Vivendi took over the engineering company last year.

Simkin had been working as a consultant under the new management at Vivendi when he decided to join Richards Butler, which counts the company as a client.

Before joining Groupe TAI, Simkin set up Boodle Hatfield's IP group before becoming head of its corporate services department.

Roger Parker, head of the commercial disputes group at Richards Butler, says: “A large aspect of [Groupe TAI's] assets was IP rights so [Simkins] stayed with it throughout his time there.”

He says of Simkins reasons for leaving: “Because he was not working with the original owners he started thinking about what he wanted to do next.”

Simkin was with Groupe TAI for nine years. He started at the company as in-house counsel.

Last week Vivendi completed the final stage of a merger between its US subsidiary Onyx Solid Waste Management with Superior Services.

The deal has been on-going since July and was closed after receiving the final state solid waste regulatory approvals.