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23 October 2020

Quinn Emanuel bolsters tax practice after securing Weil Gotshal's Paris head

Second France disputes hire this month will see Stéphane Chaouat start in January with two counsel

By Ben Edwards

Skyscraper glass facades on a bright sunny day with sunbeams in the blue sky. Modern buildings in Paris business district La Defense

La Defense district, Paris Sergii Molchenko; Shutterstock

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hired tax partner Stéphane Chaouat to head up its Paris tax disputes practice as the firm bets on an increase in tax-related litigation.

Chaouat joins from Weil Gotshal, where he was managing partner of the firm’s Paris office. He is the second senior contentious hire in the city this month for Quinn Emanuel,  which has also secured the services of French financial prosecutor Eric Russo.

Chaouat is due to take up his new role at the start of next year along with counsel Alexandre Groult and Victoire Heriard Dubreuil.

Thomas Voisin, managing partner of Quinn Emanuel’s Paris office, said: “Stéphane is a terrific addition to our firm. He reinforces Quinn Emanuel’s unparalleled criminal and white-collar tax platform, both in Paris and internationally.”

Chaouat brings with him more than two decades of legal experience, having spent 17 years as a tax partner at Weil Gotshal and seven years at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton before that. Chaouat is a renowned trial litigator, working on high-profile tax disputes and negotiations for clients such as financial institutions, private equity funds, corporates and individuals. 

Quinn Emanuel founder John Quinn said: “Stéphane is a top tax litigator and we are extremely pleased he is joining our Paris team. Ask yourself these questions: do governments need money? Will governments hesitate to employ criminal proceedings and threats of the same to collect taxes? I predict a bright future for tax litigation worldwide and France is no exception.”

Russo, meanwhile, is the first prosecutor from France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s Office to join a law firm. Speaking at the time of his hire, Juan Morillo, co-chair of Quinn Emanuel’s global corporate crime practice, said Russo’s arrival – like Chaouat's – will support the firm’s efforts to establish a white collar criminal practice in France.

Other international firms have also been looking to bolster their ranks of disputes specialists in the French capital. This month Clyde & Co has hired a four-lawyer arbitration team from Foley Hoag and Squire Patton Boggs has hired two international arbitration partners in Paris – Sabrina Aïnouz and Jérôme Lehucher – from DWF. 

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