Paul Weiss unveils 13-partner transatlantic team after swoop on rival Kirkland

Team includes one partner from Linklaters as Wall Street firm also commits to new LA arm
Panoramic View of City London in UK.

Lukasz Pajor; Shutterstock

Wall Street firm Paul Weiss has today put the finishing touches to a dramatic 12-partner private equity raid on Kirkland & Ellis in London and the US that will also see the firm open a new office in Los Angeles.

The hires – which are also revealed today to include ex-Linklaters corporate partner William Aitken-Davies – have dominated legal newswires since the start of August as news of the defections leaked out. 

They mark a dramatic scaling up of Paul Weiss’s presence in London and Europe, given its previous policy of sticking to US law and working with local firms and a rare reversal for Kirkland’s London arm, which has built up a top tier practice in recent years through a succession of partner raids.

Paul Weiss’ ramped up London operation will be co-led by debt finance specialist Neel Sachdev and Roger Johnson, who departed Kirkland in July, but whose arrival at his new firm was only confirmed today. 

Whilst most of the defecting team members were already known, four more London partners were unveiled by Paul Weiss today: Aitken-Davies, who has advised clients including TDR Capital and Hillhouse Investment, and former Kirkland partners Andreas Philipson, a corporate specialist, and tax duo Timothy Lowe and Cian O’Connor.

The stateside team, meanwhile, is led by Eric Wedel, who will serve as co-chair of the firm’s global finance and capital markets practice and lead its new LA office. He is joined by the New York debt finance specialists Ben Steadman, Matthew Leist and Caroline Epstein. 

“These are the premier private equity teams in their respective markets, covering finance, M&A and tax, and we are thrilled that they have chosen Paul Weiss as their new professional home,” said Paul Weiss’ chairman Brad Karp. “Their arrival will significantly expand our private equity and M&A capabilities globally and provide enormous value for our existing and new clients.”

The calibre of the recruits is reflected by their new responsibilities. As well as co-heading the London office, Sachdev will will co-chair the firm’s global finance and capital markets practice while fellow London head Johnson will be co-chair of global M&A. 

Matthew Merkle, who joined from Kirkland alongside Sachdev, debt finance partner Kanesh Balasubramaniam and capital markets partner Deirdre Jones, will be head of European capital markets. Aitken-Davies will be head of the London M&A group and Lowe will be global co-head of tax and head of European tax.

A Kirkland spokesperson commented: “We appreciate their contributions to the partnership and wish them the best at their new firm.”

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