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Where Do U.K. Funds Teams Go From Here? | Mishcon’s IPO Plans Grind to a Halt

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The future. Sometimes it feels such a long way off, other times it comes all too soon. Take this week’s biggest news stories on shelved IPOs, knighthoods and the state of the market for U.K. private equity funds lawyers, where firms have been bowled a googly by Kirkland & Ellis when it comes to succession planning. For more cricket takes (from Nigel Boardman, not me, thankfully), keep reading.

Kirkland & Ellis’ Funds Spanner Kirkland & Ellis has thrown a spanner in other law firm’s succession plans for funds practices, a number of people told Hannah Walker in this excellent piece this week. The firm has been so prolific at its plan to “take the number twos from all the number ones”, they say, that a number of firms will now struggle to fill the gaps left when their current funds stars leave. 

While they might have a few years of breathing room – heavyweights like Jason Glover at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Michael Halford at Goodwin have no plans to retire any time soon – it may not be long enough. 

Ten years is the timeframe that needs to be put in place for a firm to prepare for a senior funds lawyer departure, according to one London partner. The department head, who plans to retire in around 15 years, has already started to think about their own transition, they told Hannah. 

For many, time could be running out to implement a new plan.

Mishcon’s IPO is Dead in the Water, For Now 

Mishcon de Reya might not remember 2022 as its favourite year.

The firm has faced a number of regulatory actions against it which have led to various fines, then had a strange case of offering and then not offering a ‘VIP Russia’ client service while war raged in Ukraine. 

Now, nine months after the firm’s partnership voted to pursue an initial public offering, those plans have officially ground to a halt

It’s not a huge surprise. The U.K. IPO market has plummeted in recent months, with a large number of major names including Deliveroo flopping in value. Now is clearly not a good time for Mishcon to pursue it. But when will it be? 

The firm is insistent that the decision to shelve plans “for the foreseeable future” are not permanent. For now, a wait and see approach seems to be being deployed. 

A number of lawyers had previously decided the direction wasn’t for them and quit for rival outfits. For those partners who were excited at being part of what could have been the largest listed law firm in the U.K., they now face a frustrating wait before they can achieve that dream.

Lateral Movement Continues Unchecked

London’s lateral hiring market continues to race along. One senior headhunter in the city told me yesterday it shows absolutely no sign of slowing down, even as we head into a traditionally quieter summer period. 

Notable moves this week included Ashurst partner Jessica Jenner to Linklaters after 15 years at the firm, and the exit of longstanding Clifford Chance partner Adrian Cohen to Proskauer Rose. 

Clifford Chance balanced its London partner numbers with the addition of Matt Dunn, however, who rejoined the firm after a stint at Irish outfit Arthur Cox.

Weil Gotshal & Manges also added to its London ranks with the addition of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner Lois Deasey, while Baker Botts private equity and life sciences co-head David Ramm moved to Crowell & Moring.

Quote of the Week

It may have taken nearly 50 years of working on the biggest deals, but newly-knighted Sir Nigel Boardman said he was “absolutely chuffed” with his new title, adding: “The British honours system seems to be similar to the Duckworth-Lewis formula in cricket—no-one knows how it works but everyone seems happy enough with the result. Certainly I am.” 

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