Hall, who has spent his entire career at Cravath and has been a partner for over 15 years, will relocate from the firm’s Eighth Avenue headquarters to its 27-lawyer London office in February. He will replace fellow corporate partner David Mercado as head of the office, which was launched in 1973 and remains the U.S. firm’s sole international base. (Mercado, who himself relocated from New York in 2009, will remain in situ as one of five U.S.–qualified partners based in the English capital. Securities specialist Philip Boeckman will continue in his role as office managing partner.)
Cravath presiding partner Evan Chesler, who will be replaced in that post in January by current deputy presiding partner Allen Parker and move into the newly created position of firm chairman, told Legal Week that the impending move reflects Europe’s continued importance to the firm’s global strategy. (The firm has no plans to change its strategy and begin practicing U.K. law, however.)
“Europe is going to continue to be very important to our business in the future,” Chesler told Legal Week. “Putting Richard in London is a testament to how important it is. The two largest economies are the U.S. and Europe. Business people find opportunities in these continents and will continue to do so, no matter what the global market is. It is important that we respond to this.”
A native Australian, Hall has a strong track record when it comes to big-ticket transactional work. He advised Time Warner Inc. on the $9.25 billion spin-off of its cable TV business; German gas and engineering company The Linde Group on its $4.6 billion acquisition of Lincare Holdings Inc.; and Banco Santander SA on the $100 billion consortium acquisition of ABN Amro Holdings NV. Hall’s other clients have included Barrick Gold Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Hochtief AG, Royal Dutch Shell, The Home Depot, and Xstrata plc.
Legal Week reports that the firm is expected to decide sometime in early 2013 on whether Hall will continue to lead its global M&A practice.
Cravath did not feature among the top 20 legal advisers for European M&A in the first three quarters of 2012, either by number of deals or aggregate deal value, according to new data published last week by Mergermarket Limited. (The firm did, however, rank in the top 15 for M&A in Germany, and for the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.)
Cravath ranked 51st on this year’s Am Law 100 after seeing its gross revenue fall 4 percent to $568 million. The firm’s average profits per equity partner, meanwhile, dropped 2 percent to $3.1 million—the fifth-highest figure in the category among The Am Law 100.