Move On Up: Faegre Baker Daniels

After a couple of mergers the London office’s retention has wavered but it been reinforcing numbers with lateral hires, particularly in corporate, employment and real estate

The beginning of 2012 was the start of a new era for US firms Faegre & Benson and Baker & Daniels as the two firms merged to form Faegre Baker Daniels.

Although Faegre & Benson has had an office in the City since 1985, before its merger with Baker & Daniels the latter firm had never before crossed the pond. Although small as far as London offices go, the post-merger office is home to eight partners, 13 associates, four trainees, 25 fee-earners and 14 other members of staff. Being a US firm, Faegre also has a number of special counsel, the English equivalent of senior associates, who have been included in the associates’ headcount.

While Faegre has made surprisingly few internal promotions in recent years, those it has made do point to key areas that the firm has been trying to beef up in London: namely corporate and employment. The firm made up corporate lawyers Melanie Wadsworth and Linda Crow to partner in 2007 and 2012 respectively. In 2009, Alex Denny, who joined the firm from Nabarro to head its employment group in 2007, was promoted from special counsel to partner. The firm’s efforts to boost its employment offering have evidently worked, with Faegre’s employment team winning The Lawyer’s Employment Team of the Year Award 2012.

Faegre’s lateral hires also highlight its efforts to consolidate its corporate and real estate departments. In 2007, the firm hired corporate partner John Enstone from K&L Gates and also three corporate associates from three other firms. Janani Puvirajasingham was brought in as special counsel from Lawrence Graham and Kathryn Dowsett was hired as an associate from Joelson Wilson & Co to boost the firm’s real estate team. In the same year Denny joined the employment team and Ben Horn joined the business litigation, both as special counsel.

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Although there were no lateral hires or internal promotions in 2008, it was still a year of change for the firm. Following on from Faegre’s merger with London firm Hobson Audley in 2003, 2008 saw a frenetic flurry of departures as Max Audley jumped ship to Olswang, real estate partner Simon Smith and corporate partner Paul Taylor defected to Fox Williams and corporate finance partner Edward Hoare moved to Charles Russell. Today only three lawyers from Hobson Audley remain at the firm: business litigation partner Stephen Llewellyn and corporate partners Melanie Wadsworth and Donald Stewart.

After this slight hiccup, 2009 saw a large number of lateral hires. Unsurprisingly, corporate was again a central area of focus. Faegre hired Scott Leonard-Morgan as special counsel from Heller Ehrman and hired a trio of Crowell & Moring lawyers to boost its corporate team. The three lawyers were Paul Finlan and Gary Laitner, who joined as partners, and Linda Crow, who joined as special counsel before she was promoted to partner in 2012. Faegre also hired John Duffy as special counsel to reinforce its real estate department. Finance and restructuring partner Richard Curtin also joined as special counsel from insurance and reinsurance specialists Hextalls, bringing with him associate Sarah McLennan.

Employment was again the theme for 2010 as Catrin Jennett was brought in as of counsel from legacy Pinsent Masons and Garretts. The same year, Victoria Pengelly joined as an employment associate from Macfarlanes. Faegre also hired Robert Campbell from Halliwells to beef up its business litigation department. Meanwhile 2011 again saw more real estate and corporate hires as John Castell joined as special counsel from Manches and Mary Shields joined as an associate from Dawsons, respectively.

In spite of the relatively large number of hires in recent years, not all of the lawyers have decided to stick around. In addition to the partner departures in 2008, special counsel Janani Puvirasingham also left the firm in 2008 to join Smith at Fox Williams.

Of those who joined Faegre in 2009, special counsel Scott Leonard-Morgan left at an unknown date to join Axiom and Duffy left to become general counsel for Zurich and Dunbar Bank in 2011. Since 2009, however, there have been no known departures from the firm.

Promotions and senior hires

Alex Denny, employment

Denny was brought to head Faegre’s employment team in 2007 and oversaw the team that won The Lawyer’s Employment Team of the Year Award 2012

Melanie Wadsworth, corporate

Wadsworth joined the firm in 1999 and was promoted to partner in 2007. She is one of the few lawyers from Hobson Audley who is still left at the firm.

Paul Finlan, corporate

Finlan was one of Faegre’s star hires in 2009 when he joined the firm from Crowell & Moring.