Quinn Emanuel boosts London partner ranks with raid on Cadwalader

Hire of arbitration specialist Melis Acuner brings litigation firm’s UK partner count to 28

Arbitration specialist Melis Acuner has joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in London from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

Acuner boasts a diverse practice – both sectorally and geographically – spanning arbitration and litigation and acted as lead partner for the London international disputes practice at Cadwalader. 

Her clients include major energy, steel, telecoms, media and construction companies, notably Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas.

The hire brings the number of Quinn Emanuel partners in London to 28.  

John Quinn, Quinn Emanuel’s chairman, said: “Melis has outstanding credentials and a track record for winning cases. She will be a great fit with our fast-expanding London practice.”

Stephen Jagusch KC, global chair of the firm’s international arbitration practice, added: “With her charisma, dynamism and great client relationships, Melis is sure to thrive as a member of our team.”

Acuner trained at legacy firm Coudert Brothers in Paris and spent three-and-a-half years at White & Case’s Paris office before moving to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in 2008, where she spent 10 years, initially as an associate before being promoted to European counsel in 2014. 

She joined Cadwalader, initially as special counsel, then promoted to partner in the 2019 appointments round. She is dual-qualified in both Paris and London, and has acted successfully in numerous international commercial arbitrations conducted in English and French.

Notable cases include obtaining a $1bn settlement for Dana Gas from Kurdistan, having previously acted for the UAE gas company in an LCIA arbitration against Hungary’s MOL Group. Acuner also represented United Capital Partners Group in parallel arbitration and multijurisdictional litigation proceedings relating to Russia’s largest social online networking service, VKontakte, which settled, following an approximately $1.5bn sale to a Russian rival. 

More broadly, she has experience defending government inquiries and conducting internal investigations related to anti-corruption, money laundering and fraud, alongside mainstream advisory compliance work. 

She said: “Having built a successful disputes practice, I felt the time was right to take it to another level. Quinn Emanuel’s litigation-only, conflict-light model was highly attractive to me.”

Quinn Emanuel has a track record of hiring experienced disputes partners with strong arbitration credentials. 

In 2021 it hired Dominic Roughton from Boies Schiller Flexner and Simmons & Simmons’ former head of disputes, Paul Baker. Last summer, the firm added competition partner Lambros Kilaniotis from RPC, a move that helped make up for the high-profile loss of former competition co-lead Boris Bronfentrinker and two other partners to Willkie Farr in October 2021. 

In May, David Lancaster joined from Pinsent Masons to launch a contentious IP practice.

This week has also seen specialist UK disputes practice Signature Litigation boost its partner ranks with the arrival of arbitration specialist Phillip Kurek from Kirkland & Ellis’s London office.

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