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Jones Day Gouldens is making a bid to build a transatlantic bankruptcy and restructuring group by taking on SJ Berwin's Adam Plainer, but has at the same time suffered a blow by losing a high-profile New York partner to Weil Gotshal & Manges
Plainer is joining Jones Day as the UK head of restructuring just as John Rapisardi, the co-chair of the firm's New York restructuring group, has made an astonishing volte-face by returning to Weil Gotshal - the firm he left just a year and a half ago.
Rapisardi was one of three partners (the other two being Corinne Ball and Paul Leake) who jumped ship from Weil Gotshal to Jones Day in 2001 and who were brought in to build Jones Day's then rather scant New York presence.
During Rapisardi's time at Jones Day, Weil Gotshal, the firm he practised at for 16 years, has won instructions on a series of high-profile deals, spanning Enron, Global Crossing and Worldcom.
Pre-merger, Jones Day's London office had no restructuring capability, while Gouldens had Barry Donnelly, a litigation partner who has acted on insolvency cases. However, the firm recently lost its other insolvency partner Richard Curtin.
It is understood that Plainer was originally in talks with Gouldens, but would not have joined had the merger not gone through.
While part of Plainer's role will be primarily to work with the firm's US practice, the Far East and the UK domestic markets will also be part of his remit.
In the US, Jones Day's bankruptcy and restructuring group, which is headed out of Cleveland, acts primarily for the debtors, but in the past has won work for creditors, including the Osprey Ad Hoc Noteholders' Committee, in relation to Enron.
In New York, the firm is slowly building a practice and is acting for the likes of Globalstar and Kaiser Aluminum Corp, both of which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Plainer has experience that includes instructions from clearing banks and accountancy firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Commenting on Rap-isardi's departure, Dennis LaBarre, managing partner of Jones Day's New York office, said: "It's a personal decision and we're sorry to see him go, but of course we're committed to growing the bankruptcy and restructuring group."