Mayer Brown signs up trailblazing New York dealmaker from Skadden

Skadden’s first-ever female M&A partner to co-head US M&A practice at Chicago-based firm

Martha McGarry

Mayer Brown has secured the services of high-profile Skadden dealmaker Martha McGarry to co-lead its US M&A offering.

McGarry is leaving the Wall Street firm after nearly 40 years, having made partner in 2004, when she became the first woman to join the M&A team. She recently took up an of counsel role. She is the latest of a string of lateral hires to boost the Chicago-headquartered firm’s New York presence, which now numbers more than 200 lawyers. 

McGarry, who has also won plaudits for her efforts to encourage other women to succeed in business and law, brings with her many years of experience advising on top US and international M&A deals for clients including American Express, Coca-Cola and The Hershey Company.

Career highlights include advising American Express on the $1.1bn sale of American Express's banking arm to Standard Chartered in 2007 and Coca-Cola on the $13bn purchase of the North American business of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprise in 2010.

Jodi Simala, co-leader of the Mayer Brown’s global corporate practice, said she was “an outstanding lawyer, with a breadth of skills, body of work and history of premier client service that makes her a great addition".

New York managing partner Matthew Ingber added: “Our strategic focus on attracting the best New York talent, coupled with our lateral partner retention success, continues to bear fruit.”

While Mayer Brown's New York office is recognised for its M&A work, it is at a different level to Skadden's market-leading practice. A recent highligh was its work last August advising Nestlé Health Science on its $2.6 bn acquisition of Aimmune Therapeutics, which develops treatments for food allergies. 

Other arrivals at the firm’s New York office include former Proskauer Rose restructuring partner Lucy Kweskin in March, and a three-partner trio of corporate, private investment hires in June: Marina Besignano, who joined from Fried Frank,Tim Clark, who hailed from Dechert, and Javier Fierro, who moved across from Sidley Austin.

Alongside her broad-based corporate practice, which spans finance, telecoms, real estate, pharma, and technology, McGarry has extensive non-executive experience at board level contributing to various US cultural institutions, including the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Centre.

She co-founded and served on the board of W.O.M.E.N. in America, a mentoring organisation for promising young female leaders in business, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary recently.

“Martha’s leadership abilities and reputation as a mentor and talent developer, coupled with the deep relationships that she continues to nurture and build, will be a tremendous asset to the firm, our clients and our team,” said Mayer Brown chair, Jon Van Gorp.

In April, Willkie Farr & Gallagher hired a team of four insurance partners from Mayer Brown, two of whom were based in New York, to boost its insurance transactional and regulatory practice.

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