Sullivans suffers first partner exit

US firm Sullivan & Cromwell has lost its first ever partner – to rivals Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

The Paris office of Skaddens is taking Pierre Servan-Schreiber, one of France's leading M&A lawyers, from Sullivans to become joint head of the practice.

He is one of the top lawyers in France and was lead counsel to French bank Societe Generale last year in its failed battle with Banque Nationale de Paris for control of Paribas.

Servan-Schreiber was Sullivans' first non-English speaking partner and the first not to spend any time in the New York office of the firm.

He says he is moving because he thinks Skadden Arps is more committed to European growth.

“I will not be doing very different deals and the structure will be much the same, but the pace at which things will happen will be different.

“I have been at Sullivan & Cromwell since 1991 and nine years later there is still the exact same number of partners in the office and still only one French partner. I believe things could go faster,” he says.

Asked whether Societe Generale will follow him to Skadden Arps, he says it is for the bank to decide.

Skadden Arps current head of Paris, Christopher Baker, who will become joint head with Servan-Schreiber, says: “We are carefully and seriously growing as part of our strategy to develop in France, Europe and Skadden as a whole.

“We think Pierre will help us consolidate and grow a position that we already have in the big playertransactions.”

Richard Asthalter partner in charge of Sullivan's Paris office says: “He is the first partner to leave us to carry on as a lawyer. We regret that Pierre will not continue with us in the successful development of our European strategy.”