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Michael McGuinness, a corporate partner and former head of the Latin American M&A practice at Shearman & Sterling in New York, has left the firm for Jones Day, which over the past year has sought to slake its thirst for south-of-the-border clients by opening an office in Miami and making key lateral hires.
A veteran transactional lawyer, McGuinness left Shearman in late July and recently joined Jones Day’s New York office. Reached by phone Wednesday, McGuinness declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding his decision to leave Shearman and referred questions to a Jones Day spokesman, who did not immediately return a request for comment on the matter.
McGuinness will help bolster Jones Day’s dealmaking expertise as the firm seeks business opportunities in Latin America, a pivot covered last year by sibling publication the Daily Business Review. McGuinness, who began his legal career at Shearman in 1997, rejoined the firm in 2009 from General Electric, where he spent five years in a number of senior in-house legal roles at the Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate.
McGuinness led Shearman teams that advised Brazilian beef company JBS on its purchase of chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride out of bankruptcy in 2009; mining giant Anglo American on its $932 million sale of two units to Australia’s OneSteel in 2010; and $5.39 billion divestiture of a stake in a Chilean copper business in 2011. That year also saw McGuinness counsel Colombia’s Grupo Sura on its $3.9 billion buy of a Latin American insurance division from financial services giant ING Group. (Antonia Stolper, a Shearman partner in New York, serves as head of the firm’s Americas capital markets practice and Latin America affinity group.)
Jones Day’s addition of McGuinness is the latest move by the firm designed to court Latin American clients. This month Jones Day announced several leadership appointments for its regional operations in Latin America and the southern U.S. In May 2013, the firm opened an outpost in Miami led by former Greenberg Traurig partner Enrique “Rick” Martin and subsequently snagged Akerman’s corporate practice cochair Rafael Aguilar. The DBR reported a year ago this month that Jones Day had taken temporary space in Miami before moving to a more permanent locale by leasing an entire floor at the downtown Brickell World Plaza.
McGuinness’ hire is the second major lateral hire by Jones Day this month following the latter’s recruitment of White & Case private equity partner Mae Shan Chong in Singapore. Earlier this year Jones Day added DLA Piper private equity partner Alessandro Corno in Milan, Dow Lohnes litigation partner Peter Canfield in Atlanta, and Squire Sanders telecommunications partner Bruce Olcott and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld food and drug partner Mark Mansour in Washington, D.C.
Jones Day has also watched some partners head for the door. Chapman and Cutler added a nine-lawyer health care and nonprofit group from Jones Day’s Chicago office in February, while Jones Day antitrust partner Fiona Schaeffer left the firm’s New York office in July for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, which earlier this year also brought on Jones Day tax partner Manan “Mike” Shah.
As for Shearman, which saw its former senior partner Rohan Weerasinghe leave in early 2012 to become the in-house legal chief at legally troubled financial services giant Citigroup, the firm has also been busy on the lateral hire front. Last week Shearman hired Davis Polk & Wardwell counsel Reena Sahni as a financial institutions partner in New York.
Others that have joined Shearman this year include a six-partner litigation and financial services team in New York from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Akin Gump finance partner Robert Nelson Jr. and Morrison & Foerster corporate partner Christopher Forrester in San Francisco; Allens’ Asian oil and gas head, Anthony Patten, in Singapore; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman nuclear energy partner George Borovas in Tokyo; and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson finance partner Gus Atiyah in Washington, D.C.
A Shearman spokesman declined to comment about McGuinness’ departure. The 141-year-old firm, profiled by The American Lawyer last year for its new management’s bid to rebound from a few lackluster years, has still watched a few partners head elsewhere in 2014.
Latham & Watkins raided Shearman’s Paris office in April for a new cochair of its global arbitration practice in Fernando Mantilla-Serrano. The month before, Paul Hastings plucked Shearman corporate restructuring partner Andrew Tenzer in New York. And James Donato, a former litigation partner who joined Shearman’s San Francisco office in 2009, left the firm for a federal bench seat earlier this year.
Shearman also suffered a tragedy in April when London-based tax partner Iain Scoon was killed in a cycling accident on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Scoon, who joined Shearman in 2001 and headed the firm’s tax group in London, was only 45.