New York giant Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is raiding rival O'Melveny & Myers for a partner to boost its bankruptcy practice.
This is a rare lateral hire for the firm. Simpson Thacher is taking on the head of O'Melveny's bankruptcy and restructuring practice Peter Pantaleo. He will join the New York office, where the firm last tapped a competitor for a partner more than five years ago. According to Philip Ruegger, a corporate partner and a member of the firm's executive committee, the hire was necessary as a result of increasing demands from Simpson Thacher's banking clients. He said Pantaleo was an obvious choice because he has already worked with Simpson Thacher clients JP Morgan Chase & Co, First Union and Blackstone. Ruegger said: "We were looking to add a bankruptcy partner because the demands of our clients were exceeding our ability to service them. It was literally a situation where we were turning away work and we were having difficulty servicing work from our best clients. "In this environment, turning away attractive work is not attractive." The firm's last lateral hires were last year, when it took on partners to set up a presence in Silicon Valley. The Simpson Thacher bankruptcy and restructuring practice now boasts 13 partners and a total of 35 lawyers, and focuses on acting for senior creditors. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers and Wachovia Bank. Ruegger commented: "Peter does the same types of things that our folks do, and he was working for some shared clients, so it made a lot of sense for us."