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Billionaire Druckenmiller Taps Jones Day for New Top Legal Role

July 15, 2021, 7:10 PM

Duquesne Fund Services LLC, a partner to hedge funds and investment managers controlled by billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller, has hired Jones Day’s William Axtman as general counsel and chief compliance officer.

Axtman joined Duquesne in June after nearly six years as a partner and of counsel at the law firm in Pittsburgh. He didn’t respond to requests for comment left for him at Duquesne about his new in-house role, which was posted on his LinkedIn profile. Jones Day confirmed his departure.

Duquesne, which provides portfolio tools, technology, and strategic consulting services to investment firms, is related to Druckenmiller’s Duquesne Family Office LLC. Axtman has replaced former legal and compliance chief David High, who worked for Duquesne for at least a decade, but is no longer affiliated with the business. A message sent to High’s work email redirected Bloomberg Law to Axtman.

“Dave decided to retire of his own volition and to our regret, and we were lucky enough to find Bill as his replacement,” Gerald Kerner, a longtime general counsel and managing director for Druckenmiller’s family office, told Bloomberg Law in an email. “There was some short overlap and Bill started a few weeks ago.”

Kerner, who remains legal chief for the New York-based family office, said Duquesne remains a separate entity headquartered in Pittsburgh. “The two firms are affiliated through ownership,” he said.

Druckenmiller, a former money manager for fellow billionaire George Soros, currently has a net worth of $10.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Druckenmiller shuttered his former hedge fund, Duquesne Capital Management LLC, after three decades in 2010, citing stress and the increased difficulty of meeting client expectations in a turbulent market.

Since then Druckenmiller has managed his own family office and remained a participant, observer, and commentator on financial markets, often offering his thoughts about government economic initiatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

He has also been active philanthropically and in the political arena, where Druckenmiller’s been one of several prominent backers for Eric Adams, the current frontrunner in New York’s mayoral race.

Axtman specializes in corporate and transactional work. He was a longtime partner at K&L Gates in Pittsburgh, where he was practice group coordinator for the firm’s corporate and M&A group, before moving to Jones Day in 2014.

Axtman was most recently of counsel at Jones Day. He has also been an adjunct law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a former president and current member of the board of trustees for Propel Schools Inc., a local nonprofit that helps financially disadvantaged students and their families.

In addition to Axtman, a second Jones Day corporate lawyer also recently left the firm recently to lead another financial services law department.

Shannon Finch, a capital markets, M&A, and private equity partner at Jones Day in Sydney, where she joined the firm’s growing Australian operation in 2019, has been named group general counsel at Westpac Banking Corp. The Sydney-based banking and financial services giant disclosed July 14 that Finch will succeed Rebecca Lim as its top legal executive on Nov. 1.

Lim, a former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom associate and in-house lawyer at the Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has spent nearly 20 years at Westpac. She has been the company’s legal chief for the past decade. Westpac announced in March that Lim would step down later this year and move into a part-time advisory role.

Jones Day added an in-house lawyer to its own ranks this week with of counsel Hannah Ward in London, where she will work in the firm’s financial markets practice. Ward, a former lawyer at Deutsche Bank AG, most recently was general counsel for international power capital markets at General Electric Co.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com