Catrin Griffiths picks out six of the top solicitors making a name for themselves in the insurance field.
Andrew Holderness, Clyde & Co
A corporate lawyer who left Titmuss Sainer Dechert two years ago to move to Clyde & Co's Guildford office. The Guildford base appears purely nominal; Holderness is usually beavering away in the City these days, and has been spectacularly busy on Lloyd's-related corporate deals. His meteoric rise has somewhat compensated for Clyde & Co's loss of corporate old hand Verner Southey to Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. He has advised Wren on a number of multi-million pound deals, including the merger with Brit (where he was on the opposite side of the table of his old firm Titmuss Sainer, Brit's advisers). Holderness also advised SmithKline Beecham on the establishment of the groundbreaking first captive insurance syndicate at Lloyd's.
David Steinberg, Clifford Chance
Somewhat out of the London market mainstream by dint of his specialisation (insurance insolvency), Steinberg nevertheless receives rave reviews for his technical ability and commercial approach. Having weathered the storm following the departure of Andrew Wilkinson from Clifford Chance to Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, he has been acting on a number of international insurance insolvency cases, such as the first-ever insurance scheme of arrangement in Hong Kong.
Cheryl Ronaldson, Norton Rose
One of a string of astute hirings by Norton Rose corporate insurance head James Bateson, Ronaldson commands enormous respect within the City. She was widely regarded as a loss to Clifford Chance, where she had been a senior assistant, and has helped to spearhead Norton Rose's attack on the Lloyd's corporate market, where the firm had historically been weak. Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette used Ronaldson on one of the most intriguing deals of recent times, Euc Re's £29.2m management buyout and cash offer for Euclidian – the first MBO where the financing was backed by insurance rather than traditional forms of security.
David Chadwick, Rowe & Maw
Like Cheryl Ronaldson, Chadwick left Clifford Chance for preferment elsewhere. Joining Rowe & Maw looks like being an astute move; Rowe & Maw is rapidly gaining ground on the Lloyd's floor, and Chadwick himself is one of the few individuals to break into political risk insurance (an area historically dominated by Clifford Chance and Clyde & Co). Strong personal contacts with leading political risk underwriters Brockbank have been the key to his rapid advancement in this sector.
Christopher Henley, Ashurst Morris Crisp
Laid-back, ironic, and a committed cyclist, Henley left Barlow Lyde & Gilbert for Ashursts last year. On the face of it, it was an unusual move, since Ashursts has had no reinsurance litigation practice to speak of. However, it does have a thriving corporate insurance practice, in both the Lloyd's and companies markets. Henley, who came to most people's notice when still at Barlows while helping to run the settlements case Hill & Charman v M&G Re, has a sound reputation, particularly on knotty technical issues.
David Whear, Titmuss Sainer Dechert
When Andrew Holderness left Titmuss Sainer for Clyde & Co, it might have dealt a blow to Titmuss' corporate practice at Lloyd's. With the exception of the vastly experienced and well-connected Michael Smith, the Titmuss team was perceived as young and relatively untried. However, since then, Whear has made strides. He advised Masthead Insurance Underwriting on its £100m merger with Wren (Wren was advised by Holderness). Whear has also represented several overseas entities on establishing operations at Lloyd's, most notably Taiwanese multinational Evergreen, Samsung Fire & Marine and Samsung Insurance Co of Europe.