Linklaters M&A New York Duo Jump to Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells is continuing a growth surge in its corporate and finance practice, hiring a partner and counsel in New York from Linklaters.

Partner Peter Cohen-Millstein will serve as the New York member of the firm’s global M&A leadership team, while counsel Megan Ridley-Kaye will join the firm’s energy and natural resources group as a partner. and aim to expand its energy M&A practice in the U.S.

According to Linklaters’ website this week, the move leaves only one M&A partner, Scott Sonnenblick, in Linklaters’ New York office.

Cohen-Millstein said the chance to grow his practice at Hogan Lovells was very attractive.

“I became an M&A lawyer because I get bored very easily. M&A offered an opportunity to learn about a new industry on every transaction. I was looking to have a platform where I could continue learning and growing and adding some additional facets to my practice,” he said in an interview. “Hogan Lovells was a clear leader for me; I could take my cross-border practice and add to it with a very sophisticated plug-and-play environment.”

Cohen-Millstein focuses on cross-border M&A, and has represented clients in industries including transportation, life sciences and health care, technology and energy and natural resources. He specializes in advising foreign clients on U.S. transactions, noting that a core element of his work is translating the peculiarities of U.S. securities law and market practice for sophisticated business people around the world.

Cohen-Millstein joined Linklaters as a partner in 2010, after starting his legal career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Ridley-Kaye’s practice focuses on M&A in the energy, infrastructure, commodities, and natural resources industries. She was counsel at Linklaters, having started her legal career at the firm before a two-year hiatus at Noble Americas Corp., where she served as legal counsel and then assistant general counsel.

She flagged Hogan Lovells’ regulatory strength as a strong motivator after Cohen-Millstein introduced the possibility of a move. “I do a lot of work on energy transition, and regulatory is going to change quite a bit about it,” she said.

The pair declined to comment on whether they expected more Linklaters lawyers to follow.

Linklaters in December voted to change the firm’s lockstep model, extending the top of its lockstep ladder for high-performing partners, introducing an acceleration mechanism for partners who make an exceptional contribution and creating more flexibility to elect lawyers to the partnership earlier. Following the change, several partners expressed hope that the new system would allow the firm to better compete for talent in the U.S.

For his part, Cohen-Millstein said that his previous firm’s lockstep compensation system had little to do with the move.

“It was not a significant driver,” he said, adding that “Hogan Lovells has successfully bridged a U.S. culture and European culture in a way that’s collaborative, functional and integrated.”

This year, Hogan Lovells has already brought on fund structure specialist Parik Dasgupta from Reed Smith in New York, life sciences transactional lawyer Denis Segota in Philadelphia from Baker McKenzie, and project finance veteran Rich Puttré in Miami from Jones Day.

“Our corporate and finance practice group had a robust 2021 and is off to a great start this year. We are committed to making additional investments across the practice, particularly in strategic markets such as New York,” said James Doyle, Hogan Lovells global corporate and finance practice group leader, in a statement. “Peter is a highly talented and client-focused lawyer who has built a successful M&A practice. Megan is a rising star in M&A who is recognized for her client service and deal-making skills.”

In a statement, Linklaters wished the two well.  “We remain focused on continuing to expand our presence in the U.S.,” Linklaters U.S. global practice head Thomas McGrath said in a statement.

When McGrath stepped into Linklaters’ lead U.S. role in April 2021, he noted that the firm did not have as large of an American footprint as it would like. And while the firm did hire two former federal prosecutors to launch a U.S. privacy practice in May, in the last two years U.K. rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy have been growing more aggressively.

A&O opened a Los Angeles office, hiring 19 lawyers, including six partners, to focus on renewable energy matters from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in March, and in August opened offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley with an eight-partner team from White & Case specializing in technology transactions, litigation and disputes and antitrust.

Freshfields hired Cravath, Swaine & Moore veteran partner Damien Zoubek in September to co-lead the firm’s U.S. corporate and M&A practice after launching a Silicon Valley office in 2020.

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