New Orrick M&A head sets sights on London

Howard Shecter got off to a flying start last week as the new head of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s global M&A practice.

“Sorry I didn’t get to speak to you yesterday,” jokes Shecter when The Lawyer catches up with him on day two. “But I spent all day doing benefit plans and computer training.”

Things are about to get considerably busier for the former head of the business and finance practice at Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Major corporate growth in London and New York is in his sights, and he has already called an international summit meeting of Orrick’s M&A lawyers scheduled for later this month. Symbolically, it will be in London.

“This business has grown significantly over the past few years, with Orrick acquiring pieces of M&A in Asia from Coudert Brothers and in Paris from Rambaud Martel,” says Shecter. “I will be focusing on integrating these parts. It’s not that it’s not working, it’s that we want it to work at a higher level.”

As revealed by The Lawyer earlier this year (7 May), Orrick is planing to grow its London office exponentially. With Shecter’s arrival, add New York to that.

And Morgan Lewis? The firm appears to have considerably lower international ambitions than Orrick, which partly explains Shecter’s departure – as Shecter himself admits, at 64 he’s reached a time in his life when he had to either learn to play golf or take on a new challenge. “I chose the latter,” he quips.

Morgan Lewis chair Fran Milone says the firm’s strategy is “well defined”.

“Our M&A practice is very busy,” claims Milone. “But we’re nowhere near where we need to be in London and Europe. But our focus has been on first building a US platform in New York and Philadelphia and on the West Coast.”

Expect Morgan Lewis to start looking to add European capacity soon, particularly in one of its core areas, labour law. But for Shecter, his old firm’s expansion plans came too late.