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August 2, 2010 6:00 AM

Paul Hastings Expands Chicago Office with Greenberg, Katten Hires

Posted by Drew Combs

Nine attorneys have joined the corporate practice in Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker's Chicago office, expanding the firm's private equity capabilities. The hires bring the total attorney head count in the three-and-a-half-year-old office to 57.

The attorneys, whose first day at the firm was Friday, hail from both Katten Muchin Rosenman and Greenberg Traurig. The five attorneys joining from Greenberg Traurig are Paul Quinn, Amit Mehta, Ryan McLennan, Richard Radnay, and Jeff Terry. The four coming on board from Katten are Brian Richards, Jim Smulkowski, Chris Sheaffer, and Kim Smith. All nine attorneys were partners at their former firms. Quinn, Richards, Mehta and Smulkowski have joined Paul Hastings as partners; the other lateral additions are of counsel at their new firm.

Both groups of lawyers have relatively similar practices representing private equity companies with regards to mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and divestitures involving both healthy and distressed companies. The Katten lawyers have handled deals for Pfingsten Partners, LLC, Beecken Petty O'Keefe & Company, and Madison Capital Partners. The Greenberg team's clients have included H.I.G. Capital and Apax Partners LLP. The two groups have never opposed each other in a deal but have a long-standing relationship as a result of bar and other professional interactions. For Quinn and Richards, specifically, the relationship dates back to their days as law students at the University of Virginia. "Over the years, [Brian] has tried to get me to join Katten and I've tried to get him to join Greenberg so we chose a neutral site," says Quinn, who was chair of Greenberg's Chicago corporate practice.

The attorneys said they were attracted to Paul Hastings because it provided them an opportunity not only to work together, but also to help firmly establish private equity as a full-fledged practice in Chicago.  "This was a great opportunity to build a private equity practice in Chicago for a national firm," says Richards, who was cochair of the private equity practice at Katten. Paul Hastings, which has over 900 lawyers practicing in 18 offices, has a well-established private equity practice on the West Coast. Additionally, these lateral moves come on the heels of the addition in the Chicago office of two mergers and acquisition attorneys from Jenner & Block: Thaddeus Malik and Jill Sheiman.

Richard Chesley, chair of the Chicago office, says building-up the office for Paul Hastings has been a challenge because of the firm's standards and the competitive environment in Chicago for laterals but these laterals additions as well as others show that Paul Hastings provides an attractive platform to many lawyers. "We have strived to bring into the office lawyers who practice at the top of their practices, but have practices that integrate into the firm's national growth strategy," Chesley says. "Bringing in these groups add dramatically to our existing private equity platform."

 

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