Ringing in the new year with prominent laterals, Sidley Austin has lured two partners from competitors Davis Polk & Wardwell and Clifford Chance.
John Butler, who was previously at Davis Polk, joins as a partner and a member of Sidley’s mergers and acquisitions and private equity practice in New York. Steven Kolyer, who joins from Clifford Chance, is a partner in Sidley’s global finance practice, also in New York.
Butler advises corporations, financial institutions, hedge funds and private equity funds on a range of transactions including mergers, acquisitions, private equity deals, investments and restructurings.
“Financial advisory work is definitely a staple of what I do,” Butler said. “It is a great way to stay in the flow and stay close to the bankers and what’s happening in the market. It gives an interesting perspective on deal flow.”
For his part, Kolyer advises issuers and financial institutions on various aspects of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). He has particular expertise in commercial real estate CLOs.
Kolyer’s knowledge in this area complements Sidley’s existing complex finance capabilities by providing a link between lending and securitization, said Kevin Blauch, a member of the firm’s executive committee and a partner in its global finance practice.
Brian Fahrney, a member of Sidley’s executive committee and a global co-leader of the firm’s M&A and private equity practice, described the hirings as part of a firm strategy to expand its presence around the world.
“In 2015, we hired Daniel Clivner from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and gave him a mandate to grow business in Southern California, and made further hires there with a private equity focus. Then, in late 2016, we hired a six-partner team from Kirkland & Ellis in London, led by Erik Dahl. We’ve since added lawyers there,” Fahrney noted, adding that Sidley followed these hires with aggressive expansions in Munich and in Houston.
In New York, the hirings of Butler and Kolyer come on the heels of the recruitment of corporate partners Adam Weinstein, Tony Feuerstein, Kai Liekefett and Daniel Serota, Sidley noted in a statement.
Sidley’s hiring of Butler and Kolyer highlight the fissures that continue to spread throughout lockstep compensation business models, as elite firms are heavily competing to retain and attract dealmakers. Davis Polk is one of a handful of Wall Street firms that retain the lockstep model.
In response to the pressures, Clifford Chance reportedly made a series of adjustments to its model in 2015 and 2017 with a view to retaining top-performing partners who might have felt that their efforts were insufficiently recognized and rewarded.
Davis Polk did not respond to a request for comment on Butler’s departure. Clifford Chance, in response to Kolyer’s exit, said, ”We wish Steve all the best and thank him for over 25 years of service as a partner of the firm.”