20 Aug 2020

White & Case, McGuireWoods and Alston Bird hire in US

Three leading US law firms have all made late summer senior partner hires

McGuireWoods' new hire James Donnell will split his time between New York and Houston Shutterstock

McGuireWoods, Alston Bird and White & Case have all made additions to their partnerships, with each of the new arrivals in ‘on trend’ business sectors or practice specialisms.

Restructuring specialist James Donnell moved to McGuireWoods after almost six years at Baker McKenzie. An industry stalwart, Donnell brings more than three decades of experience in the oil and gas, power, banking, chemical and air freight sectors, representing clients in corporate restructurings and bankruptcies. All of those sectors, but particularly aviation and energy, have been affected by lockdown-related economic impacts. 

He joins McGuireWoods’ restructuring and insolvency department and will split his time between the firm’s New York and Houston offices, reflecting his financial services and energy sector nous.

Scott Vaughn, chair of the firm’s restructuring department, said Donnell is “highly respected for his track record guiding clients through complex bankruptcies and out-of-court restructuring,” describing him as a “terrific addition” to the team.

Dion Hayes, the firm’s deputy managing partner for litigation, highlighted Donnell’s “vast experience in New York and Texas and his relationships in the banking and energy sectors,” which will be “tremendous assets” to the firm and its clients. 

Before his time at Baker McKenzie, Donnell spent 23-years with Andrews & Kurth, now Hunton Andrews Kurth, and five years at Winston & Strawn.

Elsewhere, Alston & Bird has recruited Wall Street veteran Vivian Maese from the white-shoe firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

Maese, who is a leading figure in handling complex transactions and transformation projects focusing on technology, data, trading and markets, will join the firm’s New York office.

Her fintech experience, in an increasingly data-driven environment, will be valued by her new firm, not least because her résumé includes both private practice and managing director positions.

She previously spent three years as a partner at Dechert, and more than 20-years as in-house counsel at Salomon Brothers, Citigroup, NYSE Euronext, Morgan Stanley and BIDS Trading.

James Sullivan, the lead partner at Alston & Bird’s New York office, highlighted the benefits of Maese’s experience, commenting: “Vivian brings that coveted mix of BigLaw and in-house experience that [her] clients value so highly.” 

“Throughout her career, she has been at the vanguard of many complex and cutting-edge transactional and technology developments that have defined Wall Street and money-centre banking and paved the way for fintech. Her credentials as a trusted legal and business adviser are second to none,” he said.

Described by Tim Selby, head of Alston & Bird’s investment management practice, as a “true pioneer” in the fintech industry, Maese led the creation of fintech practice groups at Cadwalader and Latham & Watkins, alongside in-house practice. 

Finally, journalist-turned-litigator Matthew Devine has joined White & Case from Jenner & Block.

Devine joins White & Case’s commercial litigation practice in Chicago, bringing extensive experience in heavily litigated aspects of business law, particularly matters attracting reputational risk, where his media experience adds value. 

The hire is the latest addition to White & Case’s push into the Midwest since opening its Chicago office in 2018 with the two-partner hire of Gary Silverman and Carolyn Gurland. 

The office, headed by Jason Zakia, who also leads the US commercial litigation group, has seen successive hires in 2019. However, it also saw three real estate lawyers, including one partner, exit to Eversheds Sutherland in July 2020.

Glenn Kurtz, head of White & Case’s global commercial litigation practice, said: “Matt has an impressive track record managing high-stakes business disputes, strong client relationships and a terrific market reputation.”

Kurtz’s comments were echoed by Zakia, who added: “Matt’s arrival aligns with our strategic goal to expand our US commercial litigation practice further. His experience and skillset will deepen the bench of on-the-ground expertise in our growing Chicago office.”

Devine leaves Jenner & Block after sixteen years. Before legal practice, he spent nine years in journalism and almost four years in a Congressional communications role, and brings his state and federal nous, and a proven track record in Illinois to his new firm.

Other firms who have made US lateral hires this month include McDermott, who swiped a seven-strong trade disputes team from Hughes Hubbard, and Paul Weiss, who are looking to expand into Northern California, as the lateral hiring market picks up pace following a pandemic pause.