Ex-Cadwalader team kicks off solo project

The former projects head of Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft Paul Biggs has taken the unusual step of launching a project finance boutique just weeks after he quit the US firm.

Biggs has set up Trinity International with other members of Cadwalader’s dissolved projects group. Patrick Leece and Simon Norris, both former associates at Cadwalader, are joint founding partners with Biggs, while Charlotte Rogers will act as a consultant.

Biggs told The Lawyer: “We were inundated with offers to join other firms, but decided to turn them down in the belief that we could run a successful independent firm.”

Trinity’s practice will focus on project finance and corporate work in emerging markets, with a special focus on Africa. Clients include Standard Bank of South Africa and power company Aldwych International.

As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (6 February), Biggs’ departure from Cadwalader ended the firm’s projects capability. Sources at the firm suggested that projects was a drain on profit, an accusation Biggs denies. “We had a successful five-year period acting as a standalone group without any referral work from the rest of the firm,” he said.

Projects groups in the City are coming under increasing pressure to improve their profitability. As first reported by The Lawyer (23 January), Allen & Overy slashed the number of equity points awarded to its London-based project finance partners, while last year Linklaters restructured its projects group and encouraged senior partners to take advantage of early retirement deals.

The weakness of the US dollar and increasing competition in the projects market have all been cited as reasons for difficulties in projects practices. Recent years have also seen a raft of US firms set up smaller focused practices in the UK backed by a large domestic client base.