Allen & Overy opens in Los Angeles with hire of six-partner Akin Gump renewables team

Co-heads of global projects switch firms as Magic Circle UK practice joins London-based rival Freshfields on West Coast

Solar panel with cityscape of Los Angeles zhu difeng;Shutterstock

Allen & Overy (A&O) is expanding its US business with the opening of a West Coast office after hiring a highly-rated six-partner US project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

The team will be co-led by partners Dan Sinaiko in the firm’s new Los Angeles office and John Marciano in Washington DC. The duo, who were co-heads of Akin Gump's global projects team, will be joined by partners Greg Lavigne in New York, Matthew Nesburn and Andrea Wang Lucan in California and Sam Kamyans in Washington, as well as a supporting cast of associates and counsel.

Gareth Price, A&O’s global managing partner, said: “The accelerating transition of the world’s energy infrastructure to a low carbon future creates opportunities for many of our developer and capital provider clients. A&O has long advised on some of the largest and most innovative global energy and infrastructure projects and we are excited to be able to expand our US-based client and market coverage by bringing this team of exceptional partners to our firm.”

The incoming team has been involved in some of the largest renewable energy deals in the US over the past decade, advising clients such as private equity and infrastructure funds, global banks and independent power producers on project and company M&A transactions, joint ventures and debt financings. 

Marciano said: “This is the most significant law firm combination in the US renewables legal sector. We are excited to merge our practice with the largest global project finance team. As the industry matures, the sources of capital have globalised. This combination will be a great resource for clients looking to source and deploy that capital.”

An Akin Gump spokesperson said the firm would "continue advising clients through our project and infrastructure practice, which includes a deep team of lawyers across the US, UK and Asia who have a robust track record advising on all aspects of significant, complex conventional and renewable energy projects.”

Akin Gump's website lists 42 renewables professionals, including Houston-based co-head of energy Stephen Davis and Los Angeles-based partner Thomas Ian Dupuis. However, it has seen other senior partners depart in recent years, reflecting what is a highly competitive market.

Notably Los Angeles-based Edward Zaelke joined McDermott Will & Emery in 2019 to become global co-head of the energy and project finance practice and while fellow LA partner Dino Barajas joined DLA Piper to co-chair its US projects and infrastructure and Latin America corporate and finance practices in March last year. 

While A&O’s West Coast expansion is in part because of California’s renewables market, the firm is also eyeing wider opportunities in the region, particularly related to technology, said A&O’s senior US partner, Tim House.

He added: “The last year has reinforced our commitment to attracting talent in the key practices we are looking to build to serve our clients without a rigid attachment to location or physical offices. California has a deep pool of talent and demand from existing and future clients.”

A&O’s move follows Freshfields’ West Coast expansion last year in Silicon Valley – the first Magic Circle UK firm to set up shop in the region since Clifford Chance’s retreat in 2007.

A&O also this month expanded its US leveraged finance practice with the arrival of Jake Mincemoyer from White & Case in New York, who will head the practice, as it seeks to pursue growth in the highly competitive US market as an ongoing strategic priority.

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