Baker McKenzie hires nine Munger Tolles partners in Los Angeles

Global giant targets West Coast deal work with 17-strong transactional team including two counsel joining as partners

Los Angeles Shutterstock

Baker McKenzie has hired a group of 17 transactional lawyers, including nine partners and two counsel, from Munger Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles as it moves to build out deal work on the West Coast.  

Bakers said the team would augment its capabilities across M&A, private equity, funds, finance and transactional tax matters. 

The nine fomer Munger Tolles partners comprise four corporate specialists – Jennifer Broder, Tyler Hilton, Kelly Kriebs and Brett Rodda – two funds advisers – David Lee and Nikole Zoumberakis – banking and finance attorney Judith Kitano and tax adviser Matthew Schonholz. In addition two former counsel are joining Bakers as partners, namely Michael Greaney (corporate) and Kimberly Chi (banking and finance).

For its part, Munger Tolles, which is based in LA and also has offices in San Francisco and Washington DC, had around 220 lawyers including 72 partners prior to the team’s exit, according to data from Pirical.

Bakers’ North America chief executive officer, Colin Murray, said the team brought “impeccable credentials and a track record of leading sophisticated, high-end M&A and investment management work”.

He added: “They are a natural extension of our growth plan and further solidify Baker McKenzie’s position as the transactional law firm of choice.”  

Lawyers from the team have representing Intel in its $9bn divisional sale to SK hynix, Bakers said, as well as Oaktree Capital Management in its sale of 61% ownership to Brookfield Asset Management for $4.7bn and Berkshire Hathaway in its $11.6bn acquisition of Alleghany Corp.

Rodda, an M&A and private equity lawyer, said Baker McKenzie was an “unmatched opportunity for our team to be part of a global transactional platform”.

He added: “We are excited about the chance to continue providing our clients with exceptional service and now with the benefits of Baker McKenzie’s deep bench strength, specialist support and international reach.”

With the team’s arrival, Bakers’ California transactional group will house more than 50 lawyers, making it among the largest transactional legal teams in California.  

It comes amid a revival in global M&A after dealmaking fell to a 10-year low in 2023. The value of M&A deals jumped 38% to $797.6bn in Q1 2024 compared to a year earlier according to data from LSEG, fuelled by a resurgence in megadeals. 

Chicago-founded Bakers has more than 2,500 deals lawyers globally and over the past year has added nearly 30 partners to its M&A, private equity, funds, finance and tax platform.  

Among them was Bay Area dealmaker Eric Schwartzman, who joined in January from Latham & Watkins as head of Bakers’ California private equity practice. Last year the firm also hired private equity lawyer Erika López in Chicago from Kirkland & Ellis and in New York added a capital markets and finance team from Paul Hastings that included Michael Fitzgerald, the former co-chair of its Latin America group.  

A Munger Tolles spokesperson said: “We are sad to see our departing colleagues leave, and we wish them all the best. We are on track for our best financial year in firm history, our clients continue to trust us with their most important matters, including complex litigation and crisis management, and we continue to attract the best lawyers in the country.”

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]