Erica Berthou, global head of the investment management and funds group at Debevoise & Plimpton, has left the firm with deputy corporate chair Jordan Murray to join Kirkland & Ellis as partners in New York.
A current Debevoise partner confirmed the departure of Berthou, who also served as a member of the firm’s management committee. In addition to her and Murray, a number of other Debevoise lawyers are expected to make the move to Kirkland. The New York Times’ DealBook first noted Kirkland’s hire of both Debevoise lawyers in its Friday morning briefing.
Neither Murray nor Berthou, both of whom made partner at Debevoise in July 2008, were available to discuss their departure from the firm. Debevoise, which had removed the biography pages of both lawyers from its website by midday Friday, said in a statement that it appreciated the contributions of Berthou and Murray and wished them well.
“Debevoise has long had a market leading funds practice driven by a large team of talented lawyers,” a firm spokesman said. “We are pleased that David Schwartz, a senior partner with broad experience helping our clients with virtually every aspect of private fund activity, will lead the practice in conjunction with other partners, including Rebecca Silberstein, co-chair of Debevoise’s private equity practice.”
Media representatives for Kirkland did not immediately return requests for comment about Berthou and Murray, who a source said would be released from Debevoise’s partnership as of close of business Friday.
The American Lawyer named Berthou one of its Dealmakers of the Year earlier this year for her work leading a team of Debevoise lawyers advising The Blackstone Group LP’s GSO Capital Opportunities Fund III on its raising of a $6.5 billion fund from roughly 200 investors. The work was done in only five months, a particularly tight time frame for such a massive fundraising.
Such deals are not unusual for Berthou, who a source said is a major rainmaker and business generator in the funds world. In 2011, she co-led a Debevoise team that advised The Carlyle Group LP on its acquisition of a 55 percent stake in hedge fund manager Emerging Sovereign Group LLC, which at the time oversaw some $1.6 billion in assets.
Berthou derives much of her business from Europe. She was born in Sweden and began her legal career at a Stockholm-based law firm, where Debevoise recruited her in 2003 after the former competitive horseback rider worked on a deal with the Am Law 100 firm, as she told Crain’s New York Business in 2012. Despite having never been to New York, Berthou left Stockholm with her family and joined Debevoise. Within five years, she had made partner.
Among Berthou’s many clients is The Carlyle Group, which considers her one of its key outside legal advisers on deals involving emerging market funds. Berthou is also the latest investment funds expert to join Kirkland this year.
In September, the firm hired David King, a former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associate who spent the past seven years as an in-house lawyer at The Carlyle Group in San Francisco, as a partner for its investment funds group in the Bay Area. Kirkland also announced last week its hire of Vinson & Elkins capital markets partner Julian Seiguer in Houston, where sibling publication Texas Lawyer named him one of its “Rising Stars” in September.
As for Debevoise, the departures of Berthou and Murray come a month after McDermott Will & Emery hired a three-lawyer team led by Lee Schneider, the former head of Debevoise’s broker-dealer and fintech practices. Debevoise also recently saw tax partner Vadim Mahmoudov leave its New York headquarters to become a principal at accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.
David Aman, a former partner and securities regulatory expert at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton who joined Debevoise’s New York office as counsel earlier this year, also recently left the firm to join the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to New York court records.
Debevoise has also been active in the lateral market. The firm started off 2017 by bringing back former litigation partners Mary Jo White and Andrew Ceresney from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency that White led until January of this year. Kara Brockmeyer, a former chief of the SEC’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit, joined Debevoise in May.
In August, Ropes & Gray corporate partner Paul Rubin joined Brockmeyer at Debevoise in Washington, D.C. The next month Debevoise brought on Clifford Chance insurance partner Claire Swirski in London.