McDermott swoops for MoFo leveraged finance duo in London

Partners Chris Kandel and John Burge join as US firm continues London hiring spree


McDermott Will & Emery is set to strengthen its London leveraged finance bench with the hire of partners Christopher Kandel and John Burge from Morrison & Foerster (MoFo), according to people familiar with the matter. 

Kandel brings extensive experience leading leveraged, special situations and acquisition finance and restructuring matters under English and US law. He joined MoFo in 2019 after nearly a decade at Latham & Watkins, where he was global co-head of finance, and earlier worked at White & Case, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and Fried Frank. 

Having spent a good part of his career in the London offices of US law firms before they became large, Kandel’s experience also extends to areas including high-yield and debt capital markets, M&A, securitisation, derivatives, margin loans, fund finance, investment grade, pre and post IPO financings and banking regulation. 

Meantime Burge joined MoFo in 2018 as counsel after 16 years at Clifford Chance, where he was a senior associate in the finance team. He made partner in 2021 and advises lenders and borrowers on their investment grade, leverage and restructuring transactions. 

A McDermott spokesperson declined to confirm the moves, commenting: “As a firm focused on growth, McDermott Will & Emery is always assessing opportunities in the market and exploring potential talent prospects. However, we do not comment on these matters.”

Reports of the pair’s hire comes ahead of finance partner Aymen Mahmoud taking over as the firm’s London managing partner at the start of next month. At the same time veteran private equity dealmaker Graham White, who led Kirkland’s London expansion in the 2000’s, will begin a term as local senior partner.

Their hire is a personal coup for Mahmoud, who currently co-heads McDermott’s London transactions group and finance, restructuring and special situations group – two areas that are expected to fuel the firm’s future growth alongside private equity. 

That growth had already been boosted by White’s arrival in March and the hire of star PE partner Fatema Orjela from Sidley Austin in April, among other hires, as well as a strong partner promotions round at the start of the year that saw five lawyers get the nod in London. 

On appointment as managing partner, Mahmoud said the 90-lawyer London office would focus on “recruiting, retaining and accelerating the careers of the best talent in the market”, adding: “There are no limits to where we want to go.”

Morrison & Foerster was approached for comment.

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