Pillsbury in fresh UK assault with double partner hire

US firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has hired two partners for its London office in a bid to re-launch its UK offering.

Since 2003 the firm has been hit by a series of senior departures in London, which left the firm with just one full-time partner in the City. The most recent departure came in September last year when corporate partner Simon Filder moved to Bird & Bird.

In a fresh assault on the UK market, the firm has hired Chadbourne & Parke structured finance partner Denis Petkovic to head its European and Middle East practice and former Wragge & Co advertising partner Rafi Azim-Khan to run its European IP/IT practice.

Petkovic said: “Pillsbury is an 800-lawyer gorilla, a remarkable firm with an enormous energy practice. I found it difficult to turn it away and on a personal level I will make a bigger impact there [than at Chadbourne & Parke].”

Petkovic is a projects specialist with experience advising on energy, telecoms and property work across Europe, the CIS, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Azim-Khan had been on sabbatical for several months before leaving Wragges but, during his five years in the firm’s London office, he was the principal point of contact on the IP end of advertising work and also worked on the US desk.

The pair are being joined by Pillsbury energy and liquified natural gas specialist John Mauel who will become dual resident of both the Houston and London offices from June.

The lateral hires follow the appointment in September 2007 of a task force to re-build the London office as an energy, technology and finance offering.

This came after the exit of corporate partner Simon Fielder for Bird & Bird, outsourcing partner Phillip Rees for Hugh James, as well as two managing partners in a period of less than two years.

Petkovic added: “The ambition at Pillsbury is to grow and develop. Sometimes you’ve got to look at your business and see if it meets changed market circumstances. I acknowledge that there is an element of risk, but I’m attracted to that.”