Willkie Farr lands DLA Piper insurance partner duo in London

Melanie James and Tim Baumgartner join the US firm's insurance transactional and regulatory practice

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DLA Piper’s global insurance sector co-head Melanie James has joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher alongside fellow insurance partner Tim Baumgartner in London as the US firm continues to grow its transatlantic transactional practice following a crop of US hires in 2021. 

James and Baumgartner have been with DLA Piper since 2012 and were promoted to partner in 2015 and 2020 respectively. The New York-based firm said the duo are set to join its insurance transactional and regulatory practice.

The pair’s exit marks the second set of partner-level departures from DLA Piper this week, following the exit of finance partner Johan Mouraux and two associates for Belgian independent Van Bael & Bellis in Brussels. 

James brings with her more than two decades of experience handling insurance and reinsurance transactional and regulatory matters. Her practice covers all aspects of non-contentions insurance transactions including cross-border M&A, joint ventures, reorganisations, portfolio transfers and reinsurance transactions among other matters.. 

Baumgartner, meanwhile, handles corporate transactions with a particular focus on the insurance industry. He has experience advising on a range of corporate insurance transactions, which include transactions within the Lloyd’s market, portfolio transfers and reinsurance transactions for both life and non-life businesses. 

“Melanie and Tim are well-established leaders in the market and we are delighted to welcome them to Willkie,” said London-based corporate partner Joseph Ferraro, adding that the duo’s significant experience in complex global insurance matters would “add to the strength of our prominent London transactional team on UK, EU and international insurance sector matters.” 

Other hires made within the firm’s transactional and regulatory practice over the last year include New York-based partner PK Paran, who also joined from DLA Piper. He said James and Baumgartner’s hires “further solidify Willkie’s reputation as having the preeminent global insurance platform in the market". 

Willkie also raided Mayer Brown for a quartet of insurance partners in California and New York last spring. The team included the former co-leader of Mayer Brown’s insurance regulatory and enforcement group, Kara Baysinger, as well as partners Stephanie Duchene, Matthew Gaul and David Heales. 

The firm has made several lateral moves outside its transactional and regulatory practice in London in recent months, including a team hire from Quinn Emanuel that saw the firm’s competition litigation practice co-leader Boris Bronfentrinker clilmb aboard alongside two partners and ‘at least eight’ associates in October. 

The Quinn Emanuel hires came just a few weeks after the firm announced it had hired disputes barrister Duncan Speller from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr to help launch its international arbitration practice in London.

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