06 Dec 2021

Withers builds international art and fashion practice with London partner hire

Senior hires on both sides of the Atlantic also sees arrival of New York trust and estates specialist

Sarah Barker

Top 30 UK firm Withers has boosted its flagship private client team with two partner-level hires from Lee & Thompson and Day Pitney in London and New York in a bid to expand its international art and trust and estates practices. 

Sarah Barker joins the international firm’s London headquarters from Lee & Thompson, where she led the firm’s dedicated art and fashion groups, while Caryn Young joins from Day Pitney in New York where she focused on a range of trusts and estate issues. 

Barker’s hire serves to bulk up Withers’ international art practice, which is anchored in the US by New York-based partner Diana Wierbicki. Upon joining the firm, Barker will work at the intersection of the arts and fashion sectors, utilising her experience representing artists, galleries, collectors, agents and luxury brands to further Withers’ decades-long presence in both industries. Her work across the arts and fashion sectors has seen her guide a number of well-known artists to partner with international fashion brands, including Oscar De La Renta and Matilde Mourinho's self-titled brand Matilde, through design collaborations, event collaborations or sponsorships.

Barker’s involvement in the art and luxury goods industries stretches beyond her legal work, with regular contributions to Apollo Magazine, an international art news publication, and a membership to both the Association of Women in the Arts and the Institute of Art & Law. 

“Art has been a thread running through work we do for our clients for decades, and Sarah's dedication to the industry will help to bring together the multiple teams in the UK that touch on the issues relating to art and luxury goods,” said Jeremy Wakeham, CEO of Withers’ business division. 

Wakeham added that Barker will likely become a frequent collaborator of the firm’s technology team in light of the ongoing growth of the digital art market, which has raised a myriad of new legal challenges that require a foot in both practice areas. 

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Young, meanwhile, also counts well-known artists and their estates among her clientele, along with business owners and successful families. She joined Day Pitney’s trusts and estates practice in 2017 from Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, where she continued to grow her estate and trust administration and gift tax planning practice. 

Young has also undertaken a number of roles in the international financial development field alongside her legal work, including as managing director and global head of programs at the Financial Services Volunteer Corps and as project manager for the International Finance Corporation in Belarus and Ukraine, among others. 

“Caryn's focus on representing clients and business owners in the New York area is really valuable to us,” said Jay Dinwoodie, CEO of Withers’ private client and tax division. “Her ability to handle clients' estate matters from start to finish is vital to building strong and enduring relationships."

Withers has been focused on beefing up its US presence as of late, with two office launches in Texas and Boston to its name in 2021 that came with a handful of partner-level hires from Burns & Levinson and one partner hire from Dallas business law firm Winstead PC. 

The firm also hired several partners across its international network in New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Singapore, with the most significant being top Hollywood divorce lawyer Samantha Klein, who was charged with launching a US family practice upon joining the firm from Wasser Cooperman & Mandles in August. 

Withers, best known for its private client work, grew revenue by 11% to £243m this year against a 32% increase in profit-per-equity-partner (PEP) to £660k, marking a second consecutive year of eye-catching financial results after it grew revenues by 13% against a 40% PEP increase in 2020. 

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