SJ Berwin loses duo of funds partners to Proskauer

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  • That leaves Michael Halford as the only SJB funds partner in London with any standing in the market (Blake and Gold are merely figureheads who left the coalface years ago). Who said the US firms would never establish themselves? Five years ago CC and SJB ruled the private equity funds market in the UK. Quite an achievement to be obliterated by newcomers in such a short space of time. Well, there's always mid-market deals I suppose.

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  • Spot on Mr Hedgefund. Love Blake's bluster - wholly unconvincing. Couldn't happen to a nicer firm.

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  • This just goes to show - what goes around, comes around. I know that there are many ex-SJ Berwin associates who will be delighted at this news.

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  • Julian Hedgefund is absolutely correct. The once pre eminent funds practice has now lost Mark Mifsud, Richard Watkins Justin Dolling plus their team many who are now also partners to Kirkland; John Daglian and Solomon Wifa to O'Melveny; these two to Proskaur; Bruce Gardner to Sidleys and probably a number of others that I cannot recall.
    Maybe Blake will have to get back into practice?
    That may be the only way to save the funds practice and gives him a face saving way to exit as senior partner before the election??

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  • This is a disaster for SJB - like Julian Hedgefund says, really it only leaves Halford as Blake and Gold are no longer highly regarded in their practice.
    Blake as ever is unconvincing with his response - when oh when will they learn?

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  • And just desserts for SJ Berwin, really.

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  • Wow! have I missed something? Where does all this bile and delight at SJB expense come from? Anyone care to fill me in?

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  • Few firms deserve this more richly than SJ Berwin. And that's really saying something after the last few years of stealth redundancies et al in the City.

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  • (Seriously) why does everyone apparently SJ Berwin so much? I'm merely a lowly barrister who has never been instructed by them so I have no idea what the firm is like, myself.

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  • David Ryland is also still there. I imagine someone will be after him soon. If he goes too, SJB are doomed.

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  • Greenaway to the list of departures over the past five years. Then let's shut our eyes, click our heels together three times, while repeating "there's no place like home", and imagine that our leadership of the funds market in the UK and Europe is still "undisputed".

    Follow the yellow brick road, indeed.

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  • So does this mean that the success and continuance of SJ Berwin's fund practice rests on Michael Halford's shoulders? If so, the practice is doomed. That is not meant to be disrespectful to Michael Halford, but in all seriousness it can no longer compete against the heavyweight teams of K&E, Simpson Thatcher and (now) Weil Gotshal. If SJ Berwin wants to go out into the market to recruit and rebuild its practice, it will have to compete against Clifford Chance who are also likely to be aggressively recruiting. Plus, I am sure that Proskauer's recruitment spree is not over yet ...

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  • I wonder if any other partners / associates will jump ship with them ...

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  • It's a funny area, funds - a niche that's always been dominated by a handful of firms, and (other than CC) ignored by the Magic Circle. No sign this is changing, just a different handful of firms. Anyone know why the market is this way?

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  • So Mark Mifsud yielded the knife and Nigel Van Zyl did the slaying. End of Act One. Is there an Act Two or is this the beginning of the end for a firm that in the end became the worst version of itself? I feel sorry for some of the fine and decent lawyers that still work there. As for Mr Blake's quote, something is certainly undisputed - his arrogance and/or complacence. There will no doubt be some second rate US firms out there that will still be prepared to take them in but bolt the front and back doors before the exodus arrives.

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  • These guys aren't stars, they've just dipped their fingers into Daddy Blake's client list and picked off the low hanging fruit. Off they go, and maybe Proskaeur and Weil will reslise it takes more than printing off a precedent to be a successful lawyer As for the bitter ex-SJB posters on this site, sorry to disappoint but a new Van Zyl will be created in two months

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  • This must be the death nail for the SJB funds team...struggling to keep their heads above water ever since the K&E departures...the place has only been held together by the valiant efforts of van Zyl and to a lesser extent Halford. Blake should have been put out to pasture a long time ago and Gold gets wheeled out to meet clients but does hardly any hands-on work. The past couple of months has also seen the departure of a great number of associates of all PQE levels...one can only imagine how many more will be walking out that door to Proskauer et al in the coming months...

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  • What must the SJ Berwin partnership now think of its recent promotion of Oliver Rochman, potentially over other good candidates? Surely at the time he and Nigel were in discussions with Proskaeur (and others)?

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  • I'm sorry - how on EARTH can Blake say with a straight face that SJ Berwin is "the undisputed market leader for funds"? That is laughable.
    Who is going to have the balls to tell Blake that things have moved on since he was involved in private equity 20 years ago? And this is the firm's senior partner ladies and gentleman ... the mind truly, truly boggles. It is just evidence that SJ Berwin ultimately is run by a tight group of men who are in power for power's sake - not based on merit, or appropriate skill sets, or who is genuinely right for the job. For that reason, they deserve all they get - no wonder people are leaving in their droves.

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  • SJB can not seem to shift its reputation in the market or with the press despite Rob Day's best efforts. A combination of this and the strength of US firms to cherry pick the best PE lawyers (upon which SJB's reputation was built and relies on) must be very alarming for them. Better associate infrastructure and replacement of certain partners wielding an unhealthy balance of power should be the start.....

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  • I don't believe more than one or two people could possibly be posting about this with such persistence and venom.
    It doesn't take a genius to see that someone is campaigning here - a competitor by the look of it.

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  • SJB is learning the hard way that a hyperactive marketing department is a poor substitute for legal and commercial excellence.

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  • SJ's main problem is rather the same as News Corp's. The firm was built by certain key partners who brought with them a 'certain' culture. The firm needs these senior people to leave so a renewal of the firm's direction and culture can take place - just as happens in MC and other leading firms. But, as is so often the case in smaller firms the 'founders' would rather take the ship down with them, shouting from the bridge: 'This is my firm, I built it......' without noticing the world has moved on.

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  • While some of the comments here have varying degrees of validity to them, I would take issue with the underlying them that SJB is a horrible place to work. Perhaps the comments are coming from people who got treated badly in the downturn. Fair enough. Those people probably have the right to be pissed off with how the firm treated them (though I doubt it was any worse than how other firms acted). However, having worked there for nearly 4 years now, I can honestly say that it is a really nice working environment, with a pretty young, vibrant and fun employee base. Of course, as with any business, there are some people you'd rather not work with, but on the whole I think it is one of the best environments I have worked in.

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