The Churn
(Illustration by Paul Dilakian)

The hiring spree at Kirkland & Ellis continues.

STEPHEN LUCAS, head of the London banking group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, is leaving the firm to become Kirkland’s latest high-profile lateral hire. Lucas joined Weil three years ago this month from Linklaters, where he had worked since coming aboard from Magic Circle rival Clifford Chance in 2004.

At Weil, Lucas was part of a team from the firm that advised lenders earlier this year on the $3 billion sale of a printing ink company to Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking arm and Koch Industries.

Lucas was not available for comment Tuesday about his move to Kirkland, which made news last week when Above the Law obtained a leaked copy of a firmwide email sent by partner Kenneth Morrison, the head of the firm’s asset finance and securitization practice.

In the email, Morrison referred, jokingly perhaps, to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as Kirkland’s “AAA farm club”—an apparent reference to the firm’s hire last month of Houston-based energy M&A partner Andrew Calder. The Am Law Daily reported in April that Calder jumped from Simpson to Kirkland after the firm offered him a $5- million-a-year compensation package.

While Kirkland declined to comment on whether Lucas received any guarantee to entice him to make a move, his new firm is poised to make another splashy lateral hire in the Houston market.

Baker Botts energy partner ANTHONY SPEIER III has also agreed to join Kirkland, although the precise timing of his arrival has not been worked out, according to a source knowledgeable of the matter. Above the Law first noted last week Speier’s decision to leave Baker Botts—which has a 90-day notice period for departing partners—for Kirkland.

Speier, a transactional lawyer promoted to partner at Baker Botts in January, did not respond to a request for comment about his impending move. Nor did Kirkland, whose surge in profitability under chairman Jeffrey Hammes was covered by The American Lawyer last year. (The firm did lose IP litigation partner THOMAS MONAGAN III to Chicago-based boutique Norvell IP this month.)

As for Weil, whose strategic overhaul struggles were examined in this month’s issue of The American Lawyer, the firm is taking the loss of Lucas to Kirkland in stride.

“Stephen is a terrific lawyer and we are grateful for his contributions in helping to build our European finance practice in London,” the firm said in a statement. “We have six partners in London dedicated to finance, including our most recent addition, Chris McLaughlin, who joined the firm earlier this year, and they will continue to provide our clients in this space with market-leading service. We wish Stephen the best in this next phase of his career.”

Weil partner Mark Donald, who joined the firm in 2012 from Hogan Lovells, will replace Lucas as head of its London banking group. McLaughlin left Hogan Lovells for Weil earlier this year. Weil made another big hire in London last month when it recruited Goldman Sachs managing director Andrew Wilkinson—a former partner at Clifford Chance and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft—to beef up its European restructuring group.

In other Churn news …

Baker & McKenzie has hired anticorruption and compliance counsel HOWARD WEISSMAN in Washington, D.C., from Lockheed Martin. In moving into private practice, Weissman ends a 25-year career with the aerospace and defense giant, where he helped develop FCPA compliance programs and most recently served as an associate general counsel.

Ballard Spahr has bolstered its Phoenix office by bringing on Steptoe & Johnson media law partner DAVID BODNEY and associate J. CHRISTOPHER MOESER, who joins his new firm as of counsel. Also joining Ballard Spahr in the desert is Gallagher & Kennedy litigation partner CRAIG SOLOMON GANZ. Ballard Spahr opened its Phoenix office in 2006.

Crowell & Moring has hired antitrust and international trade partner SALOME CISNAL DE UGARTE in Brussels from Mayer Brown, where she was counsel. Ugarte is a former in-house attorney at Whirlpool and ex-cochair of the climate change committee at the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union.

MATTHEW JACOBS, cochair of DLA Piper’s white-collar, corporate crime and investigations practice, has left the firm’s Sacramento office to replace the retiring Peter Mixon as general counsel of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, according to sibling publication Corporate Counsel. On the flip side, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reports that DLA has added a new Asian employment practice head in Hong Kong by hiring former JPMorgan Chase in-house lawyer JULIA GORHAM.

ALAN FRIEDMAN, a former general counsel of Miramax Films who left the entertainment company in 2005 for Katten Muchin Rosenman’s New York office, swapped his role as a senior litigation partner at that firm for a similar position at Fox Rothschild.

Greenberg Traurig has raided Reed Smith for media and entertainment M&A partners ROBERT SHERMAN and TOM ARA in Los Angeles. The two partners, who specialize in film financing, joined Reed Smith in July 2011 from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

A four-lawyer labor and employment team led by partners JAMES DALEY, DAVID NOVAK, and EDWARD GRAHAM has left Chicago’s Schuyler, Roche & Crisham for Jackson Lewis. The group came to Schuyler Roche, which was formed through a 2009 merger, from K&L Gates in 2012. Daley is a distant cousin of former Chicago mayor—and Katten Muchin of counsel—Richard Daley, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell has added capital markets partner JONATHAN BLOCH in Los Angeles. Bloch, who advises clients on fund formation and regulatory compliance, previously coheaded the private equity practice at Manatt Phelps.

JONATHAN LEIKEN, a litigation partner at Jones Day and current president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, is headed to Diebold as the company’s new general counsel. Leiken takes the company’s top in-house legal position from general counsel Chad Hesse, who will slide into a supporting role at the North Canton, Ohio-based ATM manufacturer.

K&L Gates has hired Reed Smith counsel C. TODD GIBSON as an investment management partner who will divide his time between Boston and Pittsburgh, and Paris-based M&A partner CAROLINE LEDOUX from Allen & Overy, where she was counsel.

Katten Muchin has created a London-based asset management group by hiring onetime Sidley Austin associate DAVID BRENNAND and Schulte Roth & Zabel regulatory special counsel NEIL ROBSON, according to U.K. publication The Lawyer. The two attorneys join Katten Muchin as partners. Brennand was most recently a partner at offshore firm Walkers Global.

King & Spalding has added financial institutions partner DREW CHAPMAN, a former head of the alternative investment group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Chapman joined Wilmer in July 2012 from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reports that Latham & Watkins has brought back KATHRYN RUEMMLER as a litigation partner in Washington, D.C. Ruemmler left the firm in 2009 for a top position at the Justice Department before leaving two years later to replace Robert Bauer as White House counsel. Ruemmler, who sharpened her litigation chops as a member of the Enron Task Force, first joined Latham in February 2007. She announced in April that she would return to private practice.

Littler Mendelson, the national labor and employment firm that adopted the Swiss verein structure late last year, has hired partner JOHN BERG in Portland, Ore., from Fisher & Phillips, where he was counsel. Littler also added to its growing global network this week by combining with Ulloa & Associates in Honduras.

GEOFFREY WHY, a former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable, has joined Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo as a communications practice partner in Boston.

Two private equity partners are joining Nixon Peabody in New York: SEAN HAYES, who arrives from Dentons, and EDWARD “TED” UGHETTA, who moves over from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Ughetta joined Fried Frank as special counsel in 2007 and made partner two years later; Hayes joined Dentons predecessor SNR Denton from Greenberg Traurig in early 2011.

Norton Rose Fulbright has hired MARK GRIFFITHS, a former competition counsel with Barclays Africa Group, as a director in its Johannesburg office. Norton Rose has a robust presence in South Africa, having merged with leading local firm Deneys Reitz in late 2010.

JOHN NOWAK, a former deputy chief of the business and securities fraud section at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, has joined Paul Hastings as of counsel in the firm’s white-collar defense practice in New York. Nowak was part of a Justice Department team that secured a guilty plea from former Morgan Stanley real estate executive Garth Peterson on corruption charges in 2012.

Perkins Coie has plucked structured finance and restructuring partner CHRIS GAVIN from Mayer Brown in New York. Gavin had spent his entire career at Mayer Brown, joining the firm as an associate in 1999.

GARY JOHNSON, an oil and gas industry veteran and former head of the corporate practice at Burleson LLP, has left the Texas firm to become a partner in Reed Smith’s energy and natural resources practice in Houston. Reed Smith has been active on the lateral front since opening in the city last year, while Burleson saw its finances take a hit in 2013, according to sibling publication Texas Lawyer.

Ropes & Gray has hired another top lawyer from the ranks of government service. The firm has brought on JONATHAN KLARFELD, a former deputy assistant director with the FTC, as an antitrust partner in Washington, D.C. Klarfeld was once an associate at Reboul, MacMurray, Hewitt, Maynard & Kristol, a New York–based private equity boutique that merged with Ropes & Gray in 2003.

AMIR NAINI, a patent counsel with Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, has joined Russ August & Kabat as a partner. Naini reunites with former Irell colleague Marc Fenster, who lateraled to Russ August in 2003 and currently heads the firm’s IP group.