At first glance, Clifford Chance’s hire of Debevoise & Plimpton international counsel Gerard Saviola seems an underwhelming bodge-it job.
His hire follows the decimation of the magic circle firm’s funds practice in June, when Weil Gotshal rocked up with a practice launch (see story).
After all, Clifford Chance had scoured the market for a replacement for four partners. Practically every decent funds partner in the City got a call from the firm or its headhunting cronies.
Even practice head Nigel Hatfield himself, Clifford Chance’s only remaining funds bigwig, is understood to have picked up the phone to hound down potential recruits. They are thought to have included departing SJ Berwin partner Nigel van Zyl, who supposedly had the chance to join Hatfield but turned it down in favour of Proskauer Rose (see story).
Enter Saviola. He may be new to this partnership thing, but any suggestion that Clifford Chance is unable to pick up a well-reputed partner from a tight market is off the mark. Saviola is highly thought of at Debevoise.
Just as the departure of an associate, funds star Stephen Fox, was a key loss following the partner exodus (see story), Clifford Chance might be onto something with the hire of a counsel.
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