US Top 50 Firms in London Rank19

Sidley Austin, another global US firm with Chicago roots, cracked through the $2bn mark for the first time in 2017, the most visible of signs that the investments it has been making in recent years have been paying off. Among the most visible about-turns in Sidley Austin’s traditional under-the-radar style (the firm is well known for its conservatism and is among those US players that use a strict ‘black box’ remuneration system so that no-one except the management and executive committees

Sidley Austin, another global US firm with Chicago roots, cracked through the $2bn mark for the first time in 2017, the most visible of signs that the investments it has been making in recent years have been paying off.

Among the most visible about-turns in Sidley Austin’s traditional under-the-radar style (the firm is well known for its conservatism and is among those US players that use a strict ‘black box’ remuneration system so that no-one except the management and executive committees know what people are paid and it is said to be utterly “counter-cultural” to talk about pay) have come in Europe, with the firm hiring a six-partner private equity team in London two years ago closely followed by a seven-partner team, also from Kirkland, in Munich.

In large part as a result of these major team hires Sidley Austin’s London office revenue also hit a record high in 2017 of £85.7m, with key mandates for the firm in the UK including advising Apollo Global Management on its acquisition of a stake in Catalina Holdings and on the restructuring of trucks business Fraikin and retailer New Look. Sidley Austin was one of four firms to make it onto TPG’s European roster after the conclusion of its first panel process while the Kirkland group is thought to have brought several top tier clients to their new firm including TowerBrook, HIG European Capital Partners and Oaktree Capital Management.

The move was also part of a wider push into private equity around Sidley Austin’s offices including Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore, with big name recruits including Dan Clivner, the former managing partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s LA office.

Globally the firm’s practice broadly splits between corporate and litigation, with a smaller proportion handling regulatory matters. It is also known for restructuring work and maintains a lengthy reputation for structured finance but it is notable that Sidley has successfully diversified its practice in recent years, in particular investing in building a cross-border funds group.

Early in 2018 The Lawyer reported that Sidley Austin had selected 60-70 St Mary’s Axe as its new London home, taking an estimated 120,000sq ft for its new office into which it is expected to move next year.