SAN FRANCISCO — Law firm leaders anticipated California’s lateral market would sizzle in 2014. And on the third working day of the new year, the San Francisco offices of Shearman & Sterling, Akin Gump and Morgan Lewis all welcomed new attorneys.
Corporate partner Robert Nelson Jr. departed Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to join Shearman & Sterling, litigation partner Aaron Murphy moved from Latham & Watkins to Akin Gump and renewable energy counsel Evelyn Kim joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius from Foley & Lardner.
Nelson, who focused on project development, finance, acquisitions and workouts in Akin Gump’s San Francisco and Abu Dhabi offices, joined Shearman’s project development and finance practice.
Michael Kennedy, managing partner of Shearman’s San Francisco office, declined to comment on the move until next week, when he may have more news, he said. The firm hasn’t hired a new partner in the Bay Area since April 2012.
Akin Gump, which hasn’t brought a new partner onboard in San Francisco since 2011, announced the arrival of Murphy, an FCPA specialist and author of “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: A Practical Resource for Managers and Executives.” Murphy will focus on compliance counseling and investigations for large and mid-sized companies.
“Aaron adds further significant depth both internationally and nationally to our investigations and compliance practice,” said Stephen Mansfield, partner in charge of the San Francisco office and head of Akin Gump’s white collar and investigations practice.
Last week, the D.C.-based firm opened an office in Orange County—its fourth in California—with three partners and two of counsel.
Meanwhile, Morgan Lewis rang in 2014 by snagging a team of renewable energy lawyers from Foley. Kim, who joined the firm’s San Francisco office, advises clients involved in renewable energy generation facilities, particularly in the solar field. James Tynion III, former cochair of Foley’s energy industry team, joined Morgan Lewis’ New York office and energy transactions partner Elizabeth Hanigan joined in Chicago.
According to recruiter Larry Watanabe, departures at the beginning of the calendar year are optimal for nonequity partners or partners leaving firms where the fiscal year ends Dec. 31. Such is the case at Foley & Lardner, Latham & Watkins and Akin Gump.
Watanabe added that a flurry of lateral moves may carry on through the end of the month. “Last year, I think we saw four deals pop by Jan. 1, so I think [this] January is going to be busy,” he said.
His colleague Mary Lee brokered Akin Gump’s new addition.
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