Allen & Overy and Linklaters eye US growth with lateral partner hires

A&O adds to corporate team in Silicon Valley as Links boosts employee offering in New York


UK Magic Circle firms Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have both made senior lateral hires from US rivals as they seek to grow their North American coverage. 

A&O has hired corporate partner Jesse Debban in Silicon Valley from Farella Braun + Martel, while Linklaters has secured Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison employment partner Andrew Gaines in New York. 

Debban joins A&O’s corporate team after more than a decade at Northern California player Farella Braun, where he served as a partner and chair of the firm’s business transactions group. Before that, he spent three years as an associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in Los Angeles. 

“Jesse’s arrival reflects our commitment to building our corporate practice in Silicon Valley both to serve existing clients and to deepen our connection with the market,” Tim House, A&O’s US senior partner, said. “Jesse's expertise, market knowledge and versatility are a welcome addition and we are delighted he has joined us. He will help us attract more talent.”

A&O’s global technology co-head Daren Orzechowski added that Debban’s experience handling complex corporate and M&A transactions such as joint ventures, securities offerings and private equity matters would lend itself to the expansion of the firm’s cross-border engagements. 

Meantime, Gaines has joined Linklaters as an employment and incentives partner and head of executive compensation and employee benefits for the US. 

Gaines brings more than four decades of experience to the role and worked for US heavyweights including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Weil Gotshal & Manges before landing at Paul Weiss in 2012. 

He counsels employers on executive compensation and employee benefit plans and regularly advises senior management and boards of directors on compensation policies and practices, including executive compensation strategy and plan design, corporate governance and the negotiation of employment and severance agreements.  

Tom McGrath, head of Linklaters’ US practice, said: “Andy is one of the top lawyers in his field and we’re excited to have him join the firm. His experience will greatly benefit the clients that seek our help with complex compensation-related matters. His counsel will be in high demand as we continue to grow our corporate and private equity practices in the US.”

The hires come as UK Magic Circle firms make a concerted effort to build their presence in the States. Earlier this week Linklaters added to its financial regulatory team in Washington DC with the hire of partner Donald Waack from Morgan Lewis, as Clifford Chance secured Paul Hastings funds counsel Vadim Avdeychik as a partner in New York.

Debban’s arrival at A&O, meanwhile, is the latest in a slew of office launches and lateral hires for the firm in the US, which began its Stateside growth push in earnest back in 2016 when it hired five leveraged finance partners in New York from White & Case, Proskauer Rose and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. 

Last spring the firm added a six-partner project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump to launch in Los Angeles and later in the year secured a seven-partner team from White & Case to set up shop in San Francisco and Palo Alto

Last September the firm looked to the East Coast, adding Morrison & Foerster’s blockchain and smart contracts group co-chair Dario de Martino in New York to beef up its tech M&A bench. 

In February it also hired five highly-rated life sciences IP litigation partners from Goodwin Procter in February to launch an office in Boston, its fifth in the US, and in the same month secured the head of Akin Gump’s energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice, Chip Cannon, in Washington DC. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has made similar moves, including the launch of an office in Silicon Valley in 2020 with five partners from Davis Polk & Wardwell, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The firm subsequently signed a 10-year lease in Redwood City in a development located at 855 Main, the same building that now houses Hogan Lovells' Silicon Valley base.  

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