Davis Polk secures Ropes & Gray's M&A leader in Menlo Park

Paul Scrivano is the latest partner to join the Wall Street firm after it ditched its pure lockstep to go on the recruiting offensive in 2020
Menlo Park

Menlo Park, home to what will be Freshfields' third US office. Zenstrata; Shutterstock

Davis Polk & Wardwell has added the leader of Ropes & Gray’s global M&A practice to its deal team in Northern California. 

Paul Scrivano has moved over to the Wall Street firm following a five-year stint at Ropes & Gray in New York and will join Davis Polk’s M&A practice as a resident in Menlo Park while also maintaining a practice in New York, the firm said on Wednesday. 

Neil Barr, Davis Polk’s managing partner, said Scrivano’s arrival would solidify the firm's position as a “destination firm for big-ticket corporate transactions in Northern California”. 

“Northern California is a key region for important growth sectors of the global economy, and thus a key market for M&A,” he added. 

Scrivano has advised on hundreds of US and cross-border M&A transactions and is widely recognised as an authority on public company M&A matters, the firm said. He has also worked on proxy contests, high-profile corporate governance matters, shareholder activism matters and takeover defense strategies, among others. 

Prior to landing at Ropes & Gray in 2017, Scrivano led O’Melveny & Myers’ global M&A and private equity matters for 12 years, according to his Linkedin profile. Before that, he spent two years as a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, having joined from Cravath Swaine & Moore in 2002. 

Alan Denenberg, co-head of Davis Polk’s Northern California office, characterised Scrivano as a “well-respected” figure in the US M&A market. 

“He has significant experience leading major deals in a number of key sectors, including technology and life sciences, and he will further strengthen our position as a go-to West Coast firm for important corporate transactions,” Denenberg said. 

Scrivano's hire is the latest in a string of high-profile moves made by Davis Polk since it abandoned its pure lockstep structure two years ago for a more flexible structure that would allow it to remain competitive in the lateral hire market. 

The first of those hires was Daniel Stipano, who joined the firm in January 2020 from Bickley in Washington DC, with White & Case’s Americas private credit and lending practice leader Nicholas Palumbo following suit in New York just a few weeks later. The firm also added international trade and national security lawyer Paul Marquardt from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton later that year in Washington DC and hired veteran tax specialist Corey Goodman, another partner from Cleary, last November. 

Cleary is one of the few US firms still tied to a pure lockstep structure, along with fellow Wall Street rivals Debevoise & Plimpton and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. Cravath Swaine & Moore became the latest of the Wall Street contingent to ditch its lockstep structure in December for reasons similar to Davis Polk’s. 

Things have also been changing across the pond, as Slaughter and May announced it was modernising its management structure in a shift towards a more contemporary leadership model in June. The firm, which is still wedded to a pure lockstep structure, decided to axe the long-standing roles of executive partner and practice partner and introduce a managing partner and a chief operating officer sourced from outside the partnership in order to address the growth in responsibilities of the executive function. 


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