A number of firms have made emergency promotions to deal with gaps left by sudden partner exits against the backdrop of the beginning of a slow but steady UK partner promotion season.
White & Case is one such firm. As a US-based outfit it normally makes up partners on 1 January, with 33 promoted at the beginning of this year. However, two of this group, Clement Fondufe and Sami Al-Louzi, were among a string of partners who resigned from the partnership in the first two months of the year. These included partners from Silicon Valley, New York, Johannesburg, London, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Doha across IP, IT, banking, mining and metals and Islamic finance. The Middle East was left without a local partner.
White & Case responded by moving partners between offices, making lateral hires (which is ongoing) and making up five across its global network. The new promotions are London-based Jeremy Duffy, Moscow-based Irina Nesvetova and Jonathan Weinberg in Prague. They are joined by Zeeshan Ahmedani and Philip Power in the global M&A practice in Abu Dhabi.
White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier commented at the time: “These new partners are among the emerging generation of leaders cultivated within White & Case, reflecting our future as a truly global law firm. Their election to partner underscores our commitment to serving our clients and further strengthening both our global banking and Middle East practices.”
A spokesman for White & Case says that, while he could not confirm how the move has been interpreted by individual clients, the firm has “been keeping close to all our clients, talking to them about our commitments and keeping them informed about the process”.
But others are less convinced that the promotions will provide much reassurance, with one source close to the firm dismissing them as “face-saving”.
Elsewhere, SJ Berwin promoted associate Vanessa Therrode to partner.
She will head the firm’s structured finance practice following the departure of the previous practice head. She heads a small team that includes two associates and one Islamic finance specialist. In reality, she had been leading the group unofficially for several months after the previous head Brian Carne left last summer.
ccording to head of finance Jeremy Cross, Therrode is “well liked by clients”. She qualified in 2002 and cut her teeth advising Lehman Brothers on repackaging derivatives and subsequently clients, including Barclays Capital, on restructuring work.
Halliwells, meanwhile, is licking its wounds after mass defections from its Sheffield office to Beachcroft and Kennedys, including construction head David Fearon and fellow partner Andrew MacCuish. The firm promoted a senior associate to partner and office practice group head in response. Emlyn Hudson will now run the Sheffield construction practice, reporting to national head Karen Spencer. This was a clear step up for the contentious construction specialist, who was promoted to senior associate only last year.