For the last five years The Lawyer has been singling out the ones to watch in the legal profession in the shape of the Hot 100. It started off as a bit of January fun, but has now grown to be one of the most picked-over lists of the year. Defiantly subjective, the Hot 100 has become required reading for talent-spotters – and, indeed, headhunters, given the number of lucrative moves many of our Hot 100 stars have made.
The movers are almost too numerous to mention, but several hit the headlines. This year alone, the Hot 100 picked out several lawyers who subsequently traded places. This time last year, Thomas Forschbach (2003 Hot 100) was, along with Charlie Geffen, Ashurst’s biggest private equity star, and was largely responsible for the firm’s stellar Paris business, with clients such as Cinven, Goldman Sachs and Charterhouse. His move to Latham & Watkins last summer echoed David Aknin’s (2003) move from Linklaters to Weil Gotshal & Manges six months previously. With just two hires, the Paris private equity scene has been transformed. Of the great French private equity trinity, only Daniel Payan (2003) of Willkie Farr & Gallagher remains in place.
In a similar vein, acquisition finance star Rainer Magold (2003) left Baker & McKenzie this year for Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, gifting the US firm a ready-made German banking practice. The Lawyer wrote this time last year: “Magold’s German law acquisition finance contracts set the industry standard.” Milbank’s headhunters have been doing a good job: the firm also scooped senior litigation star Jim Benedict (2002) from Clifford Chance last year.
There were plenty of moves closer to home. Rising star Andrew Carpenter (2003) left DLA this year for O’Melveny & Myers’ renascent City office and, along with his colleagues, made an immediate mark by acting for JPMorgan Partners on the Warner Chilcott bid. His recruitment was a sign that O’Melveny was finally committing to the City market after years of watching from the sidelines. One of Carpenter’s senior US colleagues, New York partner John Suydam (2003), had already made it in after leading his stellar private equity boutique O’Sullivan into a merger with O’Melveny & Myers, giving it a national platform.
US firms have been very active recruiters of Hot 100 stars. Tim Emmerson (2001), commended for his fabulous work on the Orange IPO – the float of 2000 – left Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for Milbank. Since then he has advised the Sainsbury family, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch on Philip Green’s bid for Marks & Spencer, Allied Domecq on the proposed £1bn flotation of Britvic (alongside Linklaters) and for Apax on its £900m joint bid with Permira to buy Inmarsat.
Hammonds’ AIM star Martin Thomas (2003) did phenomenally well for himself when he joined Hunton & Williams – which included a £250,000 signing-on fee.
Jeremy Hill (2001) left Ashurst this year to co-head Debevoise & Plimpton’s push into financial institutions in the UK, and is understood to have taken most of his team and client relationships with him. Intriguingly, Debevoise London managing partner Jim Kiernan (2001) made the Hot 100 the same year as Hill.
Latham has also seemingly kept its eye on the Hot 100. It is not just Forschbach; other canny hires have been John Houghton (2001), who left Simmons & Simmons to help build up Latham’s restructuring practice, while the US firm also hired Jörg Soehring (2001) from Gaedertz, just a few months after his appearance in the Hot 100. Soehring, who shot to prominence on the privatisation of Berlin Airport in 2000, is now managing partner of Latham in Germany.
But our Hot 100 stars have not all moved to US firms. Lovells bagged insolvency partner Stephen Foster (2002) from CMS Cameron McKenna six months after he featured in the Hot 100, but lost young banking star Adam Freeman (2004) to Linklaters six months after his appearance in our list.
DLA recruited real estate legend David Taylor (2001) from Herbert Smith this year, while Lindy Patterson (2002) made one of the biggest moves in Scotland when she later moved to Dundas & Wilson.
Keith Barnett (2001), Garretts’ former head of property, had endured the collapse of his firm in the Andersen debacle and moved to the soon-to-merge Taylor Joynson Garrett.
Keith Barnett’s former boss at Garretts Tony Williams (2001) took a short time off after the Andersen collapse and is now a much-in-demand law firm management consultant and speaker. Nick Holt (2003) took a similar course, leaving practice to become a successful headhunter.
Plenty of lawyers have found that their careers have flourished since the Hot 100.
Mark Jones (2003) kicked Addleshaw Booth & Co into shape, and then did a textbook merger with Theodore Goddard and made an immediate impact in the London market. Michael Payton (2003) still heads Clyde & Co, one of the City’s biggest success stories and a firm with the most successful international strategy: The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report revealed last year that Clydes was one of the best-performing UK firms over the last five years. Peter Cornell’s (2002) reforms at Clifford Chance are beginning to bear fruit, while CMS Hasche Sigle’s managing partner Cornelius Brandi (2003) added Norton Rose’s entire Cologne operation to his flourishing national network last year.
Kevin Ingram (2001) had been a partner for only two years when he was nominated, but now heads Clifford Chance’s securitisation group. His partner, Jeremy Sandelson (2002), now heads the magic circle firm’s London litigation practice and is tipped to be a future leader of the firm. Susan Cooksley (2002) was head of legal for corporate finance at Commerzbank, but in May 2004 was promoted to become joint head of legal in London.
Linklaters’ Graham White (2003) and Raymond McKeeve (2003) are attracting serious attention in the private equity world, while fellow partner Charlie Jacobs (2002) has become David Cheyne’s natural heir. Stephen Gillespie (2001) is now an acquisition finance heavyweight at A&O and co-leads the banking practice. Andrew Wilkinson (2001) is still the doyen of bondholder work, while Nick Norris (2001) is the bedrock of Simmons’ Hong Kong practice. Erica Handling (2002), Ashurst’s collateralised debt obligation queen, later won Partner of the Year at The Lawyer Awards and last year forged Ashurst’s alliance with US structured finance boutique McKee Nelson.
Maninder Gill (2001) at Northern & Shell has become one of the most influential lawyers in the media with the rise of Richard Desmond. Roger Fink’s (2001) private equity practice at Biddle was the main reason Pinsents (now Pinsent Masons) undertook its merger with the niche firm later that very year. Wragge & Co’s Patrick Duxbury (2003) was instrumental in securing a place for his firm on BT’s panel last year. Freshfields’ Ed Braham (2001) is a key member of the firm’s private equity group and last year handled
the Debenhams bid, which was a real breakthrough for Texas Pacific and CVC Capital Partners.
Tim Cowen (2004) is still general counsel and commercial director of BT Global Services. The NHS contracts have dominated his year. Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Gareth John (2004) moved to the company’s Palo Alto head office in August 2004, swapping roles with senior HP lawyer Jennifer Morris. He is due to return in August 2005.
A brace of competition partners have also had good times since appearing in the Hot 100. Nick Levy (2002) at Cleary Gottlieb is still one of the best competition lawyers in Brussels and defied the odds when he helped get the Sony-BMG merger approved last year. Young competition partner Bertrand Louveaux (2002) at Slaughter and May scored a coup in 2003 when he took over the GUS-Littlewoods merger and managed to get it through the Competition Commission, while Mike Pullen (2003) of DLA got a major result last year on the Pernod case.
But the Hot 100 is not all about City heavyweights. Other lawyers with a campaigning edge have also featured, such as Angela Mason (2002) of Stonewall, Louise Christian (2002) of Christian Fisher (currently heavily involved on Guantanamo) and Yasmin Waljee (2001), head of pro bono at Lovells. And demonstrating alternative lifestyle choices are at least three other in-house lawyers from past Hot 100s: Claire Gilbert (2002) of AOL, Sarah Corbett (2001) of Burberry and Rebecca Starling (2001) of First Choice are all now taking career breaks to bring up children.