Hamid Yunis, McDermott Will & Emery

McDermott Will & Emery is focused on strengthening its London litigation practice, as it aims to bulk up in key areas amid a flurry of partner departures. 

New London managing partner Hamid Yunis, who took up the role in January, told The American Lawyer affiliate Legal Week that the firm is talking to several lawyers in the area of white-collar defense as well as other litigation practices, with the aim to continue expanding the London litigation group.

The drive was kicked off earlier this year with the hire of Watson Farley & Williams litigation and arbitration head Andrew Savage.

Yunis said that the firm wanted to hire Savage before talking to others, with conversations well underway and further hires expected this year.

Litigation is among several areas of focused growth, according to Yunis, which include corporate, M&A, private equity and life sciences. The firm currently has 27 partners in London, four of which cover litigation matters, Yunis said.

Describing the plans as “ambitious,” Yunis said he wants McDermott recognized as one of the top 20 international firms in London sooner rather than later.

While the bulk of the firm’s work—70%—comes from its U.S. offices, Yunis is targeting London success due to the “international nature” of the office. Growth is also planned for the firm’s offices in Paris and Germany.

The plans come after a slew of partner exits in the last month, most recently the departure of finance partner Peter Crichton to join Addleshaw Goddard.

In response to the recent exits—energy partner Andrew Watson, restructuring partners Alicia Videon and Alan Gar, and Crichton—Yunis said: “The people who have left might have better platforms elsewhere for them and we wish them well.”

The intended growth follows London revenue growth for the firm. It climbed from $29.5 million in 2017 to almost $41 million in the 12 months to December 2018.