Simmons banks on lateral thinking

Simmons & Simmons’ London-based associates are paying the price for the firm’s lateral hiring strategy, with only three of them made up to partner in the latest round of promotions.

This compares with five senior associates who were taken from magic circle and US firms and were made partner upon their arrival at Simmons’ London office in the 2006-07 financial year.

Managing partner Mark Dawkins said: “Where we bring in laterals it’s to add strength and depth or to fill a specific hole in a skill set. That by definition doesn’t prejudice our associate pool.

“We’ve hired senior associates from magic circle firms successfully for about five years now, but it’s not the whole picture.”

Simmons has been aggressively hiring lateral partners recently, including four since January.

In total Simmons has made up 13 partners worldwide for the next financial year, with Milan trouncing London to net the most new partners with four (www.thelawyer.com, 2 May). The total number of new partners was slightly down on last year, when 15 were made up internally. The hiring strategy also applies to Simmons’ overseas offices. In one instance a lateral senior associate was brought in to head a team when, in September 2006, Norton Rose‘s Jochen Seitz was promoted to partner at Simmons to lead the equity capital markets team in Frankfurt.