18 Jan 2023

Macfarlanes invests in funds team with partner hire from Sidley Austin

Alternative asset management space 'key driver' for independent firm as flurry of top-level London laterals continues

Stephen Ross

Top London independent law firm Macfarlanes has hired a highly rated investment funds partner from Sidley Austin in London.

Stephen Ross is making the move after nine years at Sidley, where he headed up the London private funds team. The former group general counsel of Man Group will take up residence in his new firm’s investment management group in the private funds team, which is headed by Stephen Robinson.

He advises on private fund formation, cornerstone investing, general partner (GP) equity stakes and hedge funds. His level of experience in the sector is underlined by the fact he was co-head of investment funds at Clifford Chance before joining Man Group, where he spent ten years.

Macfarlanes senior Partner Sebastian Prichard Jones said: “The alternative asset management space has been one of our key drivers in recent years and remains an area of focus for us. Stephen’s experience and market reputation will augment our alternative asset management offering and provide new impetus to our growth.”

Partner laterals remain relatively rare for the highly profitable but tight-knit Macfarlanes, whose profit per equity partner (PEP) for the 21/22 financial year jumped by 19% to £2.5m, putting it well ahead of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the most profitable Magic Circle firm. 

That level of PEP affords the firm the ability to dip into the market for strategic partner hires. Last year, it secured pensions expert Faye Jarvis from Hogan Lovells, financial regulation partner Michael Sholem from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and tax partner Sophie Donnithorne-Tait from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

In a rare loss for the firm, regulatory specialist Andrew Henderson joined Goodwin Procter’s private investment funds practice last June.

Ross’s arrival at Macfarlanes marks the latest of a flurry of top-level lateral hires in London this month.

Earlier this week, Linklaters corporate partner Sarah Flaherty defected to Weil, while last week Paul Hastings reeled in Linklaters’ infrastructure co-heads Jessamy Gallagher and Stuart Rowson and Cleary Gottlieb secured senior Travers Smith private equity and financial sponsors group head Ian Shawyer.

However, it can take many months for a partner hires to be negotiated and it remains to be seen whether this level of activity will continue throughout the year.

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