In a recruiting spree from Morrison & Foerster and at least two other outfits, King & Spalding has brought on seven private equity lawyers, almost all of them in New York. The mass move includes two partners, as well as a third partner who specializes in tax work.
Six of the eight new hires arrive from Morrison & Foerster, including Jonathan Melmed, who had several leadership positions at the latter, where he served as co-chair of MoFo’s private equity and buyouts practice, co-chair of its energy and Infrastructure practice and head of the firm’s Canada practice.
Melmed will now serve as co-chair of King & Spalding’s global private equity practice, alongside Atlanta-based partner Rahul Patel, and head of his new firm’s U.S. power and infrastructure group, a new position at King & Spalding. Melmed, who joined MoFo in 2012 after serving as head of the Canada practice at Chadbourne & Parke, represents private equity firms, pension plans, sovereign wealth funds and hybrid hedge fund and private equity investors in M&A deals and portfolio investments.
His work includes transactions for clients such as Axium Infrastructure Inc.; D.E. Shaw & Co. LP; First Reserve Corp.; InstarAGF Essential Infrastructure Fund; and Starwood Energy Group Global LLC. Melmed has advised on acquisitions and sales of solar power plants, port terminals, natural gas plants and power facilities.
King & Spalding’s other new partners in New York are Enrico Granata, also arriving from Morrison & Foerster, and Edouard “Ted” Markson, most recently a tax partner with Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe. Markson had previously practiced with Melmed at Chadbourne & Parke, which was absorbed last year into Norton Rose Fulbright.
Also joining King & Spalding’s New York office are Adam Hankiss, Ashley Arons and Natascha Kiernan as counsel and Egbert de Groot as an associate. Zori Ferkin has also joined the firm’s office in Washington, D.C., as counsel. Hankiss, Arons, de Groot and Ferkin all come from Morrison & Foerster, while Kiernan was most recently a counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in London.
Melmed said that James Woolery, hired last year by King & Spalding to serve as head of its M&A and corporate governance practices, was “instrumental in the recruiting process.”
Asked about his decision to leave Morrison & Foerster, which saw its gross revenue and partner profits hit record highs in 2017, Melmed added that he has “nothing but respect for MoFo, it’s filled with excellent practitioners,” but said King & Spalding has more depth in its energy and health care regulatory groups that can support his private equity practice.
King & Spalding also had a large energy infrastructure practice anchored in Houston, where Morison & Foerster does not have an office. Melmed’s new firm “demonstrated commitment to energy through the strength of the Houston office practice,” he said.
A Morrison & Foerster spokesman said in a statement that Eric McCrath, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner who joined the firm’s San Francisco headquarters in 2007, will remain in his roles as co-chair of M&A and co-chair of the private equity investments and buyouts group.
“Jonathan Melmed, Enrico Granata and a few other attorneys have chose to leave Morrison & Foerster to pursue other opportunities. We wish them well in their new endeavors,” the firm said. “We remain a global leader in representing corporations, funds, investment banks and other entities as they engage in a wide range of transactions, and look forward to continuing to meet our clients’ legal needs.”
The departure of Melmed’s team comes two weeks after Morrison & Foerster hired John Smith, director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, as a partner in Washington, D.C., where the firm also recently welcomed aboard antitrust partner Lisa Phelan after a long career at the U.S. Department of Justice.
King & Spalding, for its part, has also been acquisitive. The 1,007-lawyer firm, which saw its gross revenue hit $1.14 billion in 2017, earlier this month picked up Paul Hastings litigation partners Gerald Flattmann Jr. and Evan Diamond in New York and consumer class action defense partners Livia Kiser and Michael Shortnacy from Sidley Austin in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively.
Other recent additions by King & Spalding include former Reed Smith finance partners Carol Burke, Susan Berry and Kimberlee Cagle in Houston, as well as ex-Skadden counsel Timothy Fesenmyer, who has come aboard as a corporate partner in New York. King & Spalding also added former Paul Hastings senior associate Vanessa Yen last week as a partner in New York.