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The Global 100 – The stories of the year



  • Latham & Watkins turned its focus to Manhattan, with managing partner Rich Trobman relocating to the city just over a year into his first term at the firm. The relocation came almost 20 years after Trobman moved to the Los Angeles-bred firm’s successful London base.
  • Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) made an ‘offensive move’ against the Big Four on legal operations consulting with the hire of well-regarded Barclays’ head of external engagement, Stéphanie Hamon. The move saw Hamon spearhead a new legal ops consulting arm at NRF.
  • Eversheds Sutherland announced its first US office launch, opting for the competitive market of Chicago. The firm announced the office would be headed by real estate partner Marc Benjamin, former Kirkland & Ellis real estate partner Susan Kai, and litigation partner Robert Owen, who relocated from New York for the launch.


  • Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) made what senior partner James Palmer described as a ‘game changer’ for its Chinese practice by signing a joint operation agreement with 20-lawyer Shanghai firm Kewei. The move made HSF the sixth firm to acquire PRC law capability in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
  • Hogan Lovells’ South African headcount fell considerably after its local merger partner split from the firm at the end of a troubled six-year tie-up. The move brought its relationship with South African firm Routledge Modise to an end and saw 71 of its lawyers leave to set up an independent law firm.


  • Allen & Overy (A&O)’s long-running talks to merge with American firm O’Melveny & Myers culminated in failure with the firms announcing the deal would not go ahead. A handful of malcontent corporate partners within A&O and Brexit-related concerns were among the factors that hampered a potential deal.
  • Dentons capped off an expansive summer, even by its own standards, by announcing it was to enter Argentina and Uruguay through its fourth and fifth combinations respectively in just over a month. Previous tie-ups saw Dentons combine with New Zealand firm Kensington Swan in addition to Gustavo Zacapa y Asociados in Honduras and Lee International in South Korea.
  • A&O’s employment partner Mark Mansell faced his first Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing following an investigation into his role drafting a controversial non-disclosure agreement for disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
  • Dentons announced it was entering five African countries, adding 54 lawyers to its ranks. The combinations saw Dentons enter Angola, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia.
  • A&O lost two of its well-respected London corporate partners to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with Simon Toms and George Knighton quitting the firm in a damaging move for its M&A capabilities.
  • The partnership of global giant Baker McKenzie voted in Hong Kong managing partner Milton Cheng to become the firm’s next chair.


  • The co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office was let go by the firm following accusations of sexual assault by a fellow partner. In an open letter, DLA partner Vanina Guerrero alleged that fellow partner Louis Lehot sexually assaulted her multiple times after recruiting her to the firm in September 2018.
  • Dentons continued its long line of tie-ups, announcing a double merger in the US with 175-lawyer Midwest firm Bingham Greenebaum and 140-strong Pennsylvania-bred Cohen & Grigsby.
  • The SDT found that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring partner Ryan Beckwith had engaged in sexual activity with a junior female colleague in circumstances in which she was ‘intoxicated to the extent that her judgement was impaired’.
  • In what it hoped would signal a breakthrough for its US business, Freshfields secured the hire of a four-partner M&A team in Wall Street from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. The team is led by prominent M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg and includes partners Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger.


  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges further wound down its once-potent Central and Eastern Europe operations, with its 80-strong Polish team setting up an independent firm.
  • Ashurst got on the flexible lawyering bandwagon after teaming up with US-based alternative legal provider Elevate and Cognia Law under Ashurst’s New Law banner Ashurst Advance.
  • Eversheds Sutherland ramped up its City investment plans as the firm seeks to become a leading player in the global upper mid-market corporate space, after announcing it had hired former head of UK corporate at Simmons & Simmons, Giles Dennison.
  • Goodwin Procter leveraged four hires it made from Taylor Wessing’s UK life sciences and technology practices to announce an office launch in Cambridge.


  • Freshfields added four more lawyers to its ten-partner Wall Street M&A team, with three counsel and one associate joining the City firm from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
  • Baker McKenzie’s former London managing partner Gary Senior admits before the SDT that his behaviour after a firm event in 2012 amounted to sexual harassment towards a junior associate but said he did not believe at the time that his advances were unwanted.
  • As the A&O leadership elections began to heat up, managing partner Andrew Ballheimer announced he would retire from the firm upon the end of his term on 30 April 2020. Meanwhile, senior partner Wim Dejonghe announced he would run for a second term, and would stand against the City giant’s well-regarded banking co-head Philip Bowden.
  • HSF confirmed that senior litigation hand and managing partner for Asia Justin D’Agostino would become the firm’s new chief executive, after the well-regarded Mark Rigotti announced his decision to step down from the role upon the end of his term.
HSF’s Mark Rigotti (pictured) stood down as chief executive to be replaced by Justin D’Agostino



  •  HSF finalised a move to absorb its German partnership into its UK LLP, as the firm entered the final stages of its preparation ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit.
  • After boosting its Asia-Pacific turnover by more than 10% in the prior year, A&O became the latest City giant to receive approval to practice law in China’s Free Trade Zone.
  • Dentons announced it would enter one of the few European jurisdictions missing from its international network, this time adding an outpost in Dublin to its global footprint.
  • Squire Patton Boggs picked up the bulk of Winston & Strawn’s former ten-lawyer Dubai team, including its Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman.
  • Cooley confirmed plans to launch its 16th global office, with Singapore the jurisdiction of choice, moving two of its partners to the city state.
  • CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang confirmed that Penelope Warne will remain at the helm of the firm until May 2024, after the partnership approved her as senior partner for a second term.
CMS approved Penelope Warne’s second term as senior partner
  • Reed Smith opened its fifth European office in Brussels, following the hire of five partners to the firm’s corporate group. The partners were all from different teams, with Christian Filippitsch joining from NRF; Geert Goeteyn from Shearman & Sterling; Yves Melin from Steptoe & Johnson; and Wim Vandenberghe from Deloitte Legal.


  • Ashurst announced it would be launching on the US West coast after launching a four-lawyer transport and infrastructure-focused base in Santa Monica, its second US office after New York. The firm confirmed that projects partner Anna Hermelin relocated from the firm’s Tokyo outpost as part of the move and will be the new managing partner of the branch.
  • Freshfields suffered another blow to its M&A offering from a heavyweight US firm, with Latham & Watkins securing one of the Magic Circle firm’s brightest young partners, Sam Newhouse.
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner managed to get its long-mooted Paris real estate play over the line, with the firm confirming that 21 lawyers, including seven partners, would be joining the firm from French independent Franklin.
  • Mishcon de Reya suffered losses at the hand of Greenberg Traurig, with the US firm announcing that partners Mohammed Khamisa QC and Masoud Zabeti were poised to join the London office of the firm.
  • The Solicitors Regulation Authority decided not to appeal the sanctions handed to former Freshfields restructuring partner Ryan Beckwith by the SDT for misconduct.
  • After a hard-fought election which saw four vie for leadership, the A&O partnership threw its weight behind Gareth Price as its new managing partner.


  • Latham’s executive committee appointed Stephen Kensell as London managing partner, just four years after he joined the firm from A&O. The appointment saw the banking veteran take over from fellow finance partner Jay Sadanandan, who left the post after five years.
Latham’s executive committee appointed Stephen Kensell as London managing partner
  • Greenberg continued its London recruitment push, hiring Baker McKenzie global co-head of restructuring and insolvency Ian Jack.
  • Freshfields added more New York firepower, this time hiring Latham tax partner Lori Goodman.
  • A&O announced the hire of a pair of federal enforcement partners from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Washington DC, with Billy Jacobson and Jonathan Lopez joining to bolster the firm’s US ambitions.


  • Wim Dejonghe secured his re-election at A&O as senior partner after a close race against banking partner Philip Bowden.
  • CMS hired HSF equity capital markets head and former Linklaters partner Charles Howarth.
  • A&O announced its annual promotions round, with 29 made up to partner including ten lawyers minted in the City.


  • Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) hired private equity and M&A partner Omar Pringle from Freshfields. The move represented a second US exit from Freshfields within weeks, with MoFo in April adding Mitchell Presser, head of Freshfields’ US M&A and global transactions, to co-chair its global corporate department.
  • Dentons announced that it had opened offices in the British Virgin Islands and St Lucia as the firm continued its expansion in the Caribbean.
  • Linklaters lost asset management partner Tom Alabaster to Ropes & Gray, where he became the firm’s new head of funds for Europe, Middle East and Africa.


  • Three private equity partners rejoined Hogan Lovells from Paul Hastings, less than a year after they left the firm. Ed Harris, Leanne Moezi and Adam Brown all decided to rejoin following their brief stint at Paul Hastings.


  • Freshfields made an audacious launch on the US West Coast, recruiting five senior lawyers from major US firms to launch a practice in Silicon Valley, under the leadership of Davis Polk & Wardwell securities partner Sarah Solum.


  • NRF announced that the reign of one of global law’s longest-serving leaders will come to an end at the close of the year, with Peter Martyr completing his final term for the firm.
The reign of one of global law’s longest-serving leaders will come to an end at the close of 2020, as NRF’s Peter Martyr completes his final term


  • Skadden hired one of the most well-known M&A partners in the City, with Freshfields veteran Bruce Embley joining the firm.
  • Freshfields became the first of the Magic Circle firms to elect a woman to head the firm, with Georgia Dawson chosen as the firm’s new senior partner. Dawson now heads the firm in a new-look leadership team, which includes Alan Mason and Rick van Aerssen, as well as Rafique Bachour, who all come in lieu of the managing partner role previously held by Stephan Eilers.
Georgia Dawson was elected Freshfields’ senior partner – making the firm the first of the Magic Circle to elect a woman as its head
  • Goodwin Procter continued its fine form in the City recruitment market, this time hiring the storied Sidley Austin private equity team led by Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko. Dahl and Iwasko, who joined Sidley from Kirkland & Ellis in 2016, were most recently co-leaders of Sidley’s private equity practice and co-heads of the European corporate and private equity group respectively.
Goodwin Procter hired the storied Sidley Austin private equity team led by Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko (pictured)


  • Kirkland & Ellis was characteristically expansive in its annual promotion round, beating its own record for the number it promotes, making up 145 globally and 16 in the City, where investment funds were the strategic focus.
  • A&O’s partnership voted through reforms to its lockstep in a bid to increase rewards for star performers as market pressure from US competitors continues to take its toll on London’s big four international firms.
  • White & Case refocused on the City in its latest partnership promotion round, with the firm announcing as of January 2021 nine lawyers in the City will be minted as part of a wider 40-strong promotion round. LB


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