McDermott snaps up White & Case’s former Brussels head

Axel Schulz adds depth to competition team following retirement of heavyweight Philip Bentley KC

White & Case’s former Brussels managing partner, Axel Schulz, has joined McDermott Will & Emery, bringing to a close a career at the New York firm spanning 23 years.

Schulz departs White & Case shortly after ending his term of office as head of its Brussels arm, a role he took up in 2019. He will bring to McDermott a competition law practice that is split between merger control advice, cartel defence claims and behavioural work. 

He joins a three-partner team led by Hendrik Viaene, managing partner of McDermott’s Brussels office.

Schulz said he had received a warm welcome both from Viaene, who joined the firm in 2021 from Deloitte Legal, and veteran competition partner Jacques Buhart, who recently co-chaired the host committee for the IBA annual meeting in Paris.

McDermott’s history in Brussels is a long one – former partners include the celebrated duo of the late Clive Stanbrook OBE QC, whose boutique the firm acquired in 2005, and Philip Bentley KC, who retired last year. 

Schulz’s arrival is part of a move by the firm to refresh its competition ranks following Bentley’s retirement at the end of last year and the departure of counsel David Henry for Arnold & Porter in August 2022.

That process began with the hire of Skadden counsel Stéphane Dionnet a partner in November 2022.

Schulz said that collegiality mattered to him, praising the firm’s international network and collaborative spirit. He also noted the dovetail between his practice and those of US colleagues, including in the firm’s Mid-West heartland in Chicago. He added that the prospect of new connections with partners Christian Krohs, Carina Kant and Laura Stammwitz in Germany was also attractive given his status as a Munich- and Brussels-qualified lawyer. 

This year, McDermott has also boosted its antitrust team stateside, hiring partners Ryan Tisch, who joined in Washington DC from Crowell & Moring in May, and Elai Katz, the former head of Cahill Gordon & Reindel’s antitrust practice, who joined the New York office in August.

Schulz’s work spans merger control cases across the energy, chemicals, agricultural, commodities, container shipping, ports, pigments, medical devices and pharmaceutical sectors, where he also has antitrust investigations experience, all of which are important to McDermott, which have strong links to global clients in those sectors.

“Our clients operate in an increasingly elaborate legal environment, and competition matters are among the major considerations in their business strategies,” said Viaene. “Axel’s deep experience dealing with multijurisdictional complexities will make him an asset to our global team and clients.”

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