Shearman & Sterling begins transition to next senior partner early following shelved Hogan Lovells merger talks

Litigation head Adam Hakki to succeed incumbent David Beveridge following election later this year

Shearman & Sterling has started the transition to its next senior partner early to ensure a ‘seamless passing of the torch’. 

Incumbent David Beveridge is in the last year of his term and will hand over the reins to New York litigator Adam Hakki following a formal election later this year, the firm said today. 

The news follows Shearman confirming last week that it was no longer in merger talks with transatlantic firm Hogan Lovells and comes against a background of a flurry of partner departures from its Europe and Middle East offices.

Hakki currently serves as Shearman’s global managing partner and head of disputes and litigation. The firm said he enjoys the unanimous support of Beveridge, the executive group and its policy committee. 

Beveridge commented: “We have made important progress in reshaping our business, and I believe this is the right time to begin a leadership transition to accelerate the pace of the firm’s ongoing transformation and the development of a new strategic vision. 

“We have a clear opportunity to optimise across the business as we work to better focus our efforts on the areas where we are best positioned to succeed and increase revenue growth in the future. I am confident that, in partnership with the management team, Adam will be the leader the firm needs to deliver on our ambitions.”

Hakki joined Shearman more than 25 years ago at the start of his legal career and has led the litigation team since 2012 and served as global managing partner since 2018. His practice focuses on complex litigation and government investigations work for major financial institutions including Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. 

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New York-based Beveridge was elected senior partner in 2018, having previously served as global managing partner and as leader of the firm’s capital markets teams for the Americas and Europe. After stepping down from the senior partner role he will return to practice. 

Hakki said: “We will maintain a laser focus on our clients and prioritise our core strength as a destination for the most complex and significant transactions and disputes for corporates, financial institutions, and funds, with true industry expertise. 

“Through this we will maintain our prioritisation of the most profitable legal markets. We will also continue to prioritise our most valuable asset – our people – in their development and in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.”

News of Shearman’s merger talks with Hogan Lovells first emerged last December courtesy of a report in German legal news specialist Juve. The merger would have created a law firm with revenue in the region of $3.6bn, though the firms confirmed last week that they had mutually agreed to halt the talks

There was an evident strategic logic to the deal given the two firm's complementary strengths in the US, but there were also significant areas of overlap, not least across both firms' international networks.

A flurry of exits from Shearman’s European and Middles East offices suggest they may have been unsettled by the talks, including the departure last week of virtually all of the firm’s Germany team for US rival Morgan Lewis. 

Meantime, earlier this week international arbitration partner Garreth Wong left the firm’s London office for Paul Hastings, shortly after it emerged that heavyweight finance duo Korey Fevzi and Philip Stopford will be joining Cravath Swaine & Moore to start a UK law practice for the elite Wall Street firm.

Other recent exits from the London office include EMEA and Asia M&A head Phil Cheveley, who joined Sidley Austin, and restructuring partner Helena Potts. who moved over to Paul Hastings. 

In recent months partners have also left Shearman’s Paris, Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices for rivals including King & Spalding and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. 

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