Simmons loses fifth partner in one month

Simmons & Simmons has lost a fifth partner in a month, with US-qualified Christopher Lewis quitting for Thacher Proffitt & Wood.

Lewis, who joins the structured finance practice at Thacher Proffitt as counsel, will be based in New York. He joined Simmons from the New York office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in January 2002.

As revealed by www. (25 August), the firm lost its London and New York heads of IP, Helen Newman and Christopher Woods, to Kilpatrick Stockton in August. Newman had been at Simmons for most of her working life.

Competition partner Clare Potter also left to take up the position of general counsel at the Competition Commission.

The remaining partner to have left is Steven Bryan, viewed internally as a real corporate star. Bryan led on the Northumbrian Water deal, which gave Simmons its leading position in the accelerated IPO market, and for which the firm was awarded Corporate Team of the Year at this year’s The Lawyer Awards.

Bryan has defected to Lovells, where the firm’s head of corporate Hugh Nineham expects a big upswing in transactional work in the heavily regulated water sector, and where Bryan has considerable M&A experience. Ofwat is close to completing its latest review of the sector, which is expected to result in consolidation.

Simmons announced in April that it would de-equitise 12 per cent of its London partnership, up to a maximum of 11 partners, to help achieve a global profit per partner target of £400,000 in 2004-05. It is understood that the firm is currently meeting its targets for the profit hike.

One partner said the five departures were an inevitable by-product of the process. “If you shake a tree hard, all kinds of apples fall down,” he said.