Meta associate GC among five partners joining DWF

New arrivals join corporate, dispute resolution and finance and restructuring teams in UK and Saudi Arabia

Listed UK law firm DWF has added five partners in one week to its corporate, dispute resolution and finance & restructuring teams across the UK and in Saudi Arabia, including an associate general counsel from Facebook owner Meta. 

Olivia O’Kane has joined the firm’s disputes resolution team in Belfast after an eight-month stint at Meta, where she was associate GC for EMEA disputes. Before that she was at Belfast independent Carson MacDowell for 12 years, rising to partner in 2017 and building and leading the firm’s defendant-focused media litigation team. 

Ranked Band 1 by Chambers in Northern Ireland for media and entertainment and defamation/reputation management, O'Kane has acted on behalf of newspapers, social media giants and radio and TV broadcasters on matters ranging from contempt, data protection and libel to broadcast regulations and misfeasance. At DWF she will head the media, entertainment & communications team in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Corporate partner Scott Kennedy has also joined in Belfast from local commercial firm Millar McCall Wylie solicitors, where he was a partner. He advises on all types of corporate finance transactions including business sales and acquisitions, VC and private equity investment as well as telecom contracts and film and TV production rights and specialises in advising early stage technology companies. 

Another corporate partner - James Wilson – has joined DWF in London, this time from the partnership of UK law firm Howard Kennedy. Wilson’s work focuses on IPOs, dual listings, secondary fundraisings and takeovers and DWF said he brings strong relationships with a number of broking houses to the firm. 

Meantime, construction lawyer and former DWF director Jonathan Gaskell has re-joined the firm as a transactional partner in the infrastructure, construction and energy practice in Edinburgh after a nine-month interlude as a partner at Glaswegian firm MacRoberts. 

Rounding out the hires is Middle East specialist, Leopold Zentner, who has moved over in Riyadh a year after DWF gained a base in Saudi Arabia by launching an association with local law firm Al-Ohaly & Partners. 

Zentner has joined from Saudi government industrial investments company Dussur and earlier was a partner at Curtis Mallet-Provost Colt & Mosle in Oman and a legal director at DLA Piper. His work primarily focuses on advisory and transaction execution of greenfield and brownfield projects in the country. 

Paul Rimmer, CEO of legal advisory at DWF, said: "We're delighted to welcome five new partners to our global business. They are very talented lawyers who will bring a wealth of experience to their respective offices and teams."

Having announced it was downsizing its international network in 2020 in a cost-cutting drive in response to the impact of Covid-19 and last year closing three of its Australian offices, in the process cutting a total of 160 jobs, the firm has since made a string of positive announcements.

Over the course of this year it has unveiled tie-ups with local firms in Portugal, Spain and Hong Kong, opened in Seville through its Spanish affiliate, and promoted 17 lawyers to partner in its February round, having elevated just six the year before. 

In July the firm also reported a solid performance during the previous financial year, when revenue grew 3.8% compared to the previous year to £416.1m against a 5.3% rise in gross profit to £180.9m. 

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