Kirkland continues to pick off Freshfields finance partners as alternative capital co-head makes move


Kirkland & Ellis has hired the co-leader of Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer’s alternative capital group, Sean Lacey, in the latest move between the two firms in London.

Finance partner Lacey is joining the US firm’s London office as a partner in its restructuring group.

His move follows that of real estate finance partner Jonathan Birks, who left the magic circle firm for Kirkland late last year, and finance partner Michael Steele, who made the move in 2015. High yield partner Ward McKimm moved in the opposite direction in 2015, after four years at Kirkland.

Lacey, who made partner at Freshfields in 2011, rejoined the firm as a senior associate in 2009 after a spell at Lehman Brothers.

Last October, he was part of the Freshfields team that advised the Carlyle Group on its $3.2bn (£2.5bn) acquisition of chemicals firm Atoteh from Total, while in April he acted for Permira Debt Managers on its refinancing agreement with Soho House Group.

Kirkland chairman Jeffrey Hammes said: “Sean has earned a reputation as one of the leading restructuring and finance lawyers in the London market. His extensive experience advising clients on complex transactions across a range of credit products will further enhance our European restructuring offering.”

Lacey’s hire follows the departure of Kirkland City restructuring partner Mark Knight, who left the firm in April to join Pillarstone – an investment platform set up by US private equity giant KKR – as its first general counsel. The US firm’s London office recently saw another finance departure, with banking partner Rob Bradshaw leaving to join Dechert’s City base in March.

Following the departure of a seven-partner Munich team, Kirkland also recently took steps to rebuild its German private equity practice, recruiting partner Volkmar Bruckner, who joined the firm this week from Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Kirkland posted strong financial results for 2016, with revenue rising 15% to $2.65bn (£2.1bn) and profit per equity partner passing the $4m mark. The revenue hike took the firm to second place in The American Lawyer‘s recently released Am Law 100 rankings.

Freshfields, meanwhile, is completing a restructuring of its global finance practice, with six finance partners leaving at the end of April and two others deequitised from the partnership. The firm is refocusing its finance practice on a narrower range of products following a structural review last year, which came as part of a push to boost profitability at the firm.