Kirkland & Ellis raids Weil for banking star Stephen Lucas

Weil Gotshal & Manges banking chief Stephen Lucas is leaving the firm after three years for Kirkland & Ellis.

Lucas joined Weil in 2011 from Linklaters, having also spent a number of years at Clifford Chance. He has strong links with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and as a junior lawyer spent time on secondment at Citi, Barclays Capital and HSBC. 

The partner is renowned in the leveraged finance market, and has advised on a range of financings including representing Advent International in its leveraged buyout of KMD. Last year, Lucas was also involved in financing the Carlyle Group’s acquisition of Chesapeake’s packaging business. 

In 2009, the partner was part of a Linklaters team advising a consortium of banks led by Commerzbank and RBS on the restructuring of German company Schaeffler’s debt (20 August 2009). The deal, which paved the way for the all-bearing maker to merge with auto-parts manufacturer Continental, was one of the largest debt restructurings to take place in Europe that year. 

A source close to Kirkland said: “It’s a great hire. It’s very accretive to what we do.”

Lucas’s start date has not yet been decided.

Weil source say that finance partner Mark Donald will step up to take on Lucas’s role as head of banking at the London office.

Lucas is the latest high-profile partner to exit Weil’s City office, following in the footsteps of private equity partner Mark Soundy who left the firm last April for Shearman & Sterling alongside tax partner Sarah Priestley and private equity associate Simon Burrows (15 May 2013). 

The firm was left with one tax partner in London after Ropes & Gray hired its star tax partner Brenda Coleman.

In 2012, Weil announced it was laying off more than 150 lawyers and staff in one of the biggest cost-cutting exercises to hit a US law firm. Around 60 associates and 110 support staff, predominately legal secretaries, are understood they would be made redundant. The firm said that the “staffing adjustments” had been made across the firm’s international network but were predmonantly in the US (24 June 2013).