Mayer Brown nets Charnley for dramatic London corporate push

Mayer Brown nets Charnley for dramatic London corporate push” />The eye-catching raid on McDermott Will & Emery for corporate rainmaker William Charnley by Mayer Brown is part of a wider strategic push aimed at seeing the firm’s London revenue rise by 80 per cent by 2010.

As first revealed on www. (10 September), Charnley will join the firm’s corporate group as a partner on 1 October, following a nine-year spell at McDermott.

Mayer Brown’s London senior partner Sean Connolly said the aim is to achieve significant growth in a number of key business areas, specifically corporate, finance, real estate and litigation.

“My job is to execute a strategy that has been a year in the planning,” he said. “The thinking behind the strategy is that we have to be significantly bigger in London: we’re aiming for revenue of £180m by 2010. Currently it is around £100m.

“The firm wants to be one of the elite international law firms. Our analysis tells us that for that to take place we have to be significantly bigger in London.”

Despite embarking on a global restructuring earlier in the year, which has resulted in 45 equity partners, the vast majority from US offices, leaving the firm, Mayer Brown is now aggressively seeking to recruit for its London practice.

Connolly said this process kicked off earlier in the year with the addition of finance partners Edmund Parker and Elana Hahn. The former joined from the London office of Gide Loyrette Nouel, where he was a senior associate, while the latter came on board from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, where she was an associate.

As reported on www. (21 May), the firm announced it was bolstering its corporate tax practice with the addition of partners Michael Cashman and James Hill, who joined from Morgan Lewis & Bockius and WilmerHale respectively.

Charnley, who was instrumental in setting up McDermott’s London operations in 1998, is by far the highest-profile hire the firm has made so far.

Connolly said: “William is genuinely a high-calibre rainmaker. He operates in one of the areas we’re targeting for expansion, private equity and hedge funds, and his clients sit well beside our own. If you look at our offering in London we act for a number of financial institutions in the finance area and in corporate we represent a range of FTSE-type clients. William does a lot of corporate work, but acting for the sponsoring institutions.”

In addition to its lateral recruitment drive, which Connolly said will see a number of “significant” hires in the coming months, Mayer Brown is also looking to grow its London practice from within. Last year the firm made up nine new partners in the UK – an increase from two the previous year – with the expectation of promoting at least that number in December.

When Mayer Brown moves into new premises at 201 Bishopsgate in March 2009, its office space will have almost doubled to 200,000sq ft, which Connolly says the firm is preparing to fill.