Proskauer continues funds raid on SJ Berwin with six associate hires

Proskauer has continued its raid on SJ Berwin’s funds talent with the recruitment of six associates, who are set to join funds partners Nigel van Zyl and Oliver Rochman who defected to the US firm’s London office in July.

Proskauer has continued its raid on SJ Berwin’s funds talent with the hire of six associates, who are set to join funds partners Nigel van Zyl and Oliver Rochman who defected to the US firm’s London office in July (see story).

The latest round of hires leaves a hole in SJ Berwin’s funds team, which reportedly had 29 associates at the start of the year and will be down to 18 after the latest departures.

Managing partner Rob Day was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Lawyer, but a firm spokeswoman said: “A number of funds associates have expressed their intention to leave to join Proskauer. It’s always disappointing when staff decide to leave but this is an inherent part of law firms.

“We remain the market leading player with one of the largest and strongest funds teams in Europe. Over the past three years, SJ Berwin has closed more European and international private equity funds than any other firm.”

Sources close to SJ Berwin say it is now planning to make up three mid-level funds associates to the partnership at the end of the year to plug the gap left by van Zyl and Rochman.

The spokeswoman added: “We have always tended to train and promote our good associates to partnership and we will continue to do so.”

The six associates are understood to have resigned on Friday and are the latest in a string of hires for Proskauer’s London office, which is in the midst of an aggressive recruitment strategy being spearheaded by former firm chairman Allen Fagin.

Talking to The Lawyer last week, Fagin said Proskauer was actively targeting lawyers for its City office in key practice areas including alternative investment finance, transactional and private equity, capital markets, junior capital (or mezzanine) finance and mid-market M&A (5 September 2011).

“We are open to all hiring opportunities but we are not looking to hire simply to fill spots – we are looking to hire outstanding lawyers and colleagues,” he said.

While there has been much speculation as to the link between the recent hires and last year’s failed merger talks between Proskauer and SJ Berwin, Fagin said the relationship between the two firms dated back almost 20 years and was stengthened in 2005 when both took on partners from dissolved Boston firm Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault.

“We have a very longstanding relationship and there are, or have been, a number of mutual client relationships where we have been doing the US work and SJ Berwin have done the UK work,” Fagin said.

(For an interview with SJ Berwin chief Rob Day, click here.)