Shearmans takes over Swidler Berlin asset management team

New York giant Shearman & Sterling has nearly doubled the size of its asset management group with a team from local rival Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman.

The group of two partners and 12 other lawyers, the bulk of Swidler Berlin’s practice, takes Shearmans’ asset management group up to around 40 lawyers. Swidler Berlin is a 400-lawyer firm based in New York and Washington DC, known for its financial services work.

The group will join Shearmans’ New York office. It is led by two partners – Joel Goldberg, who is currently the head of financial services at Swidler Berlin, and Margery Neale.

Both Goldberg and Neale represent a number of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered investment clients, as well as private investment vehicles. One of their biggest clients is Merrill Lynch Asset Management, which they share with Shearmans. Other Shearmans clients include Vanguard Group, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

Joint head of the corporate finance and investments group Holland West says: “We have a substantial asset management practice today in regulated funds and alternative asset management, such as hedge funds, private equity funds and leveraged buyout funds.

“We view asset management as a substantial growth area for us, and we felt we had to build on top of the practice that we have. We found one of the premier boutique groups that wanted to take their practice to a global platform.”

The practice is currently spread between the New York and Washington DC offices of Shearmans, with about 60 per cent of the practice in New York. The firm also has an asset management capability in Germany, but West says the next step will be to build up the international practice.

He says: “Our next step really will be to expand internationally, particularly in the European Union. We feel for now that we’re situated well in the US.”

The practice’s main competitors among the US firms include Davis Polk & Wardwell, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Goldberg is a former director of the SEC’s division of investment management, a role which was later taken up by Barry Barbash, now co-head of Shearmans’ group with West. With this team, Shearmans is the only firm to have a former investment management director in both New York and Washington DC.