Ropes & Gray hires White & Case partner for City funds launch

Ropes & Gray is set to become the latest US firm to launch a London funds team with the hire of White & Case partner and practice head Matthew Judd.

Maurice Allen
Maurice Allen

Judd resigned from White & Case today after just over five years at the firm and will rejoin former colleagues Maurice Allen and Mike Goetz, who run Ropes’ City office.

Allen and fellow Ropes & Gray City finance partner Goetz were both influential in bringing Judd to White & Case from Clifford Chance, where Allen previously worked with Judd (8 December 2006).

Allen and Goetz are both former White & Case partners, leaving in 2008 to join Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (17 March 2008). The duo then quit to launch Ropes’ UK base a year and a half later (22 October 2009).

Mike Goetz
Mike Goetz

Judd, who joins Ropes’ full-equity partnership, advises on a range of funds, including private equity, infrastructure, real estate, funds of funds and venture funds.

The Boston-headquartered firm has a leading funds practice in the US, but this is the first time it has acquired UK capacity in the area.

It is still unclear whether Ropes is set to hire any associates from White & Case as part of the funds launch.

Boston partner and co-head of Ropes’ private investment funds group John Ayer said in a statement: “One of our main objectives is to help clients to make intelligent investments on intelligent terms, and Matt’s experience and expertise will ensure we continue to deliver on that promise to our clients in London and across Europe.”

Ropes boosted its London real estate private equity practice last month with the hire of former Clifford Chance partner Iain Morpeth from corporate finance adviser Oppenheimer Investments (4 January 2012).

Ropes has long been rumoured to be launching a London funds practice and has been linked with a number of leading partners in the sector. Judd himself has been tipped as a likely mover and a potential figure to fill the gap left at Clifford Chance following the exit of three funds partners and a tax partner to Weil Gotshal & Manges last year (20 June 2011).

The Weil raid (13 June 2011) was one of the first in a string of US funds launches in the City amid a push from firms to mirror their fund formation clients’ businesses by adding global capability.

Nigel van Zyl
Nigel van Zyl

SJ Berwin lost partners Nigel van Zyl and Oliver Rochman to US firm and former merger suitor Proskauer Rose (27 July 2011), while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom hired Macfarlanes partner Stephen Sims to set up its City funds practice (21 September 2011).

Goodwin Procter raided Ashurst for two real estate funds and private equity partners David Evans and Samantha Lake Coghlan in October (11 October 2011).

More recently, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld boosted its London funds team with partners Tim Pearce and Ian Meade from Simmons & Simmons (1 February 2012).

A White & Case spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Matthew Judd has stated his intention to leave the firm and to join Ropes & Gray. We wish him well in his new role.”

His exit is White & Case’s first London partner departure in more than a year. During that period, it has made eight lateral partner hires and promoted six associates to the partnership.