Fried Frank raids rivals for London real estate launch

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is launching its first London-based real estate capability following the hire of a team of lawyers from two of its key US competitors.

Property finance star Nigel Heilpern is joining the New York-headquartered firm as a partner to lead the local real estate practice. He moves across from Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, which he joined in 2001 from Nabarro Nathanson in order to help develop its property finance capability.

Heilpern will be joined by former Nabarros colleague Stephen John and two associates. John joins as a senior real estate specialist from Weil Gotshal & Manges, which he joined from Nabarros in 2000.

It is understood that the London practice will focus on servicing the firm’s existing US clients, working closely with international head of real estate Jonathan Mechanic.

Heilpern was regarded as one of Paul Hastings’ real estate heavyweights. His loss leaves the firm with just two property partners in London.

Fried Frank London managing partner Justin Spendlove said real estate was “an important asset class in its own right and in the context of corporate transactions”, with the practice focusing on the office’s corporate and funds clients.

The hires bolster Fried Frank’s London office to 14 partners, most of whom are specialists in cross-border M&A, private equity, capital markets and financing transactions.

Fried Frank has been undergoing a campaign of rapid European expansion. In the past 18 months the firm has added more than 40 lawyers to its corporate, restructuring, tax and anti-trust teams across London, Paris and Frankfurt.

Last month, the Paris office also entered into a formal agreement with 16-lawyer litigation boutique Lantourne, with a view to a merger in about a year, when the necessary regulatory hurdles have been crossed.

Paul Hastings was un-available for comment.