The swinging sixties

So there we were, having a quiet end-of-January Guinness in our local last night (Thursday 31 January), when we found ourselves spinning back 40 years to the Summer of Love.

Believe me, it’s a strange sensation. Extremely unexpectedly, this quiet backstreet boozer turned out to be the venue for a charity gig by Mr Mellow Yellow himself, King Hippy Donovan.

But it was to get weirder. The Lawyer’s hosts for the evening were two of the brightest stars from the London legal market, director of clerking David Barnes and Stuart Catchpole QC from 39 Essex St.

Let me say straight off that we kept our clothes on and none of us had flowers in our hair; New York is too cold for any of that malarkey right now.

But after the initial shock of seeing one of London’s top construction barristers singing along to Jennifer Juniper had died down, I asked the obvious question: what gives, man?

Today (1 February) is the 11th IBA International Arbitration Day and the 39 Essex St duo was in town to attend the sold out celebration of the New York Convention’s 50th anniversary. But in truth, that was only an excuse.

The real reason, as first reported by The Lawyer last year, was that since Barnes’ arrival, 39 Essex St has been on a mission to expand its international arbitration coverage. The US tour, on which the pair have been beating down the doors of some of the city’s top law firms to demystify the workings of London barristers for confused American lawyers and hopefully drum up some business, was the latest leg.

“They ask us ‘why are you here and what do you want’,” Barnes told me. “I say ‘I’m here to meet you and I want your work’.”

There’s nothing psychedelic about that.

Dechert and the Tempest

Partner moves are 11 a penny these days (that’s the exchange rate for you), but it’s rare you get one that stands out like Dechert’s latest.

Drake Tempest. Let that sink in for a moment. That, ladies and gentleman, is a name.

But The Tempest (as surely he should be known), who yesterday (28 January) joined Dechert from O’Melveny & Myers, doesn’t just have a stand-out name. He also has a pretty, er, stormy history.

The Tempest used to be general counsel of US telecoms giant Qwest. In July 2004, he was on the receiving end of a subpoena filed by the SEC in connection with its investigation into major fraud at the company.

Gale-like, the Tempest railed against the request and, with hurricane-force obstinacy, held out until ultimately, the SEC backed down. He was never charged, never indicted.

Now, after his second stint at O’Melveny, The Tempest has added a touch of grey-haired gravitas to Dechert’s New York corporate group.

He’s a private equity, public M&A and real estate finance specialist with a rare mix of private practice and in-house experience. But that’s not what you really want to know, is it?

“My name is a combination of surnames,” The Tempest told me yesterday. Apparently Drake was his great, great grandmother’s name while “Tempest” hails from York, the English one. “They were a rowdy lot and got tossed out, ending up in Pennsylvania,” The Tempest revealed.

Now their progeny has reached the fair shores of Dechert’s New York office. Of which, it seems only appropriate to say, “How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”

I’m sure he’ll do just fine.

To read more Byrne in the USA blogs, click here.