Last week The Lawyer reported on US law firms' continued assault on the UK's magic circle. Shearman & Sterling poached senior corporate partner Peter King from Linklaters and Davis Polk & Wardwell recruited its first UK lawyer in Nick Segal, Allen & Overy's (A&O) highly-rated insolvency partner. The high-profile raids follow Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy's recent recruitment of Tim Emmerson from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Euan Gorrie's departure from A&O for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett late last year. Cravath Swaine & Moore is now the only member of the Wall Street elite without a UK partner.
Joanne Street, business manager of the private practice division, Hays ZMB "I'm sure the other white shoe firms will follow suit. I think they've all been waiting for a while for the right person to come along, because those guys aren't going to take just anybody. They're going to wait for the best. It's been difficult because everybody's had their head down, doing so much work. But now things are slowing down, people are looking forward and thinking about whether there's a better platform to grow their practice. For those sort of people, US firms are an attractive option."
James Learner, partner, Kirkland & Ellis, London "There's less of a notion of a job for life than there was 10 or 15 years ago. The fact that you see partners from UK firms - magic circle or otherwise - moving to US firms is not surprising to me and I think it's likely to continue and accelerate. As the US firms in Europe expand their non-US capability, there are two ways to do it: you can get partners and associates from other firms, or you can grow them from the ground up by getting them from law school. In order to do it quickly you have got to hire laterally. Over the long term, once you've established your base, you're going to start hiring from law school and growing them internally."
Chris Lewis, US capital markets partner, Simmons & Simmons "Don't assume from this that there will be a massive raid on UK firms by the white shoe contingency. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett hired Euan Gorrie in response to the demands of a few clients. Anything Simpson Thacher does, the rest of the white shoe firms are likely to do. It's no surprise that the Gorrie hire was followed so quickly by Simpson Thacher's doppelgänger Davis Polk & Wardwell hiring Nick Segal. Why will we not see more of this? These firms make far too much money in New York to dilute their profits per partner with a raft of London hires. Also, they're opposed to building with laterals. Most of their top people have never worked for another firm and that's how they want it to stay."