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In the past year, change at the firm has been concentrated in London and the litigation practice. James Scoville is stepping down after serving as Debevoise’s London managing partner for more than eight years; he will be replaced by Lord Goldsmith QC and Richard Ward later this year.
|DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON|
|Business Crime Defence||1||Private Funds||12|
|Commerical Litigation||3||Project Finance||2|
|Corporate Tax||5||Public Procurement||2|
|Information Technology||2||Telecoms and Media||2|
|Insurance & Reinsurance||4||Trademarks||2|
Furthermore, the firm has continued to expand its litigation practice in London with a partner and six associates hired in 2014, following a recent partner hire in 2013. The growth that the London office has experienced has required relocation to a new larger premise. In addition, the firm has made three internal promotions to partner in New York in the areas of M&A, corporate governance and arbitration.
|Total Listings in WWL||51||Established||1931|
|Home jurisdiction||US||Total size of firm||650|
|Number of partners||Over 150||Number of offices||8|
PEOPLE AND PRACTICES
The firm’s private funds practice is consistently ranked as “world-class”. In New York, Rebecca Silberstein is “sensational”. Her “incredible knowledge” of this unique industry is revered by her peers and clients alike. Michael Harrell is considered a leader in private equity fund formations. He has counselled private equity industry leaders in buyouts, growth capital, distressed debt, international private equity, mezzanine and other private investment funds. David Schwartz guides sponsors and investors in connection with complex secondary transactions involving private investment funds. In 2013, Schwartz advised HarbourVest in raising US$3.6 billion for its Dover Street VIII secondary fund. Jennifer Burleigh represents many of the firm’s top private equity clients, including EIG Global Energy Partners, Gávea Investimentos, Highstar Capital, Odyssey Investment Partners, Tenex Capital Partners and Vinci Partners. Her practice focuses on advising sponsors of private investment funds, co-investment funds and separately managed accounts. In London, Geoffrey Kittredge is co-chair of the European private equity funds group. He is widely recognised for his “brilliance” in private equity and investment fund formation. Marwan Al-Turki is the fellow co-chair of the group and as well as having a command over seven languages, he is “widely respected” for his longstanding practice that focuses on structuring multi-jurisdictional private equity funds. The Hong Kong office is represented by the “superb” Andrew Ostrognai, chair of the firm’s private equity practice in Asia. He has extensive experience in forming all types of funds, from large pan-Asian buyouts to smaller focused sector or country-specific funds.
The firm also boasts a “top-notch” corporate tax practice. Friedrich Hey, based in the Frankfurt office, is a “renowned” specialist on German international tax matters with an emphasis on US-German cross-border tax planning. In New York, Gary Friedman has a “brilliantly analytical mind”, which he focuses on US and international tax aspects of complex, multi-jurisdictional M&A and financings. Peter Schuur has a “deep knowledge of international tax regulations”. His practice specialises in advising insurance companies on tax matters relating to M&A and other transactions. David Schnabel is an expert on tax aspects of M&A and private equity. This year he was a leading adviser to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in its agreement to acquire Ashland Water Technologies for US$1.8 billion.
Commercial litigation is a growing and prodigious area for the firm with now over 230 attorneys in the department. Over the last two years, Debevoise has provided litigation services to approximately 850 clients in demanding representations. David Rivkin is a litigation partner in the firm’s New York and London offices, who is also “revered” for his expertise in arbitration. His transnational practice has seen him handle litigation and arbitration in a broad spectrum of matters all over the world. Lord Goldsmith QC is also listed in both chapters for his “brilliance” in dispute resolution. His significant work includes leading cases on auditors’ liability, insurance and takeover law, banking law, company law, insolvency litigation, revenue cases, public law and public international law and arbitration. John Kiernan is co-chair of the firm’s litigation department and has “extensive experience” in a broad range of commercial disputes and internal investigations.
Debevoise places a huge emphasis on pro bono work, which it feels is fundamentally important to maintaining its longstanding values. As such, it is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, agreeing to commit at least five per cent of its annual billed time to pro bono matters. Cases are brought to the firm through its close relationships with organisations such as the Legal Aid Society, Human Rights First and LawWorks.
A notable case in 2013 saw the firm secure the release of pro bono client Ibrahim Idris, a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Debevoise promotes a diverse environment by electing an active diversity committee with a manager that acts as a resource for all staff at the firm. Its strategy in this regard is highly effective with the firm being critically praised as a legal bastion of gender and racial equality. Debevoise is also a partnering sponsor of Catalyst’s study, “Women of Color in US Law Firms”. Catalyst is the leading non-profit membership organisation working globally with businesses to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business.
Debevoise & Plimpton is a firm with a strong US and international outlook. The headquarters of the firm in New York is by far the largest office with over 450 lawyers. However, the firm has been actively strengthening its network in Europe and Asia in key areas such as M&A, capital markets transactions, financings and private equity, as well as general corporate and tax matters. The firm now has over 170 lawyers outside its US offices.
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