James Dougherty, the leader of Jones Day’s M&A practice, has left the law firm after nearly two decades to join rival Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Dougherty will join Davis Polk “in the coming weeks,” Neil Barr, the firm’s chair and managing partner, said Wednesday in an internal email viewed by Bloomberg Law.
Davis Polk confirmed Barr’s email, but declined to comment further.
Dougherty’s departure comes as Greg Shumaker takes over as the influential firm’s first new leader in more than 20 years. Shumaker officially took the top spot at Jones Day on Jan. 1.
“Jones Day has a leading global M&A practice, and has advised on over $4 trillion in deals over the past two decades,” a Jones Day spokesperson told Bloomberg Law when asked for comment about Dougherty’s departure.
“While from time to time, lawyers will make decisions for their own personal reasons, demand for our services continues unabated, and we look forward to serving our clients for all of their M&A and other transactional needs,” the firm spokesperson said. Jones Day “has been considering and is implementing practice leadership changes in connection with its transition to a new managing partner,” he added.
Dougherty is the latest high-profile hire for Davis Polk, a perennial leader among law firms advising on M&A deals. The firm earlier this week announced the opening of a new Brussels office, anchored by a pair of Allen & Overy antitrust lawyers.
The firm last year brought on Paul Scrivano, the former global head of Ropes & Gray’s M&A practice, as well as Nicole Brookshire, the former co-chair of Cooley’s public companies practice group.
Dougherty has advised on high-profile transactions, including Marathon Petroleum Corp.'s $23 billion acquisition of Andeavor; United Technologies Corporation’s $18.4 billion purchase of Goodrich Corporation; and USG Corp.'s sale to Knauf for $7 billion.
He recently led Jones Day’s representation of Meridian Biosceinece in its all-cash $1.53 billion sale to South Korean healthcare company SD Biosensor and private equity fund SJL Partners. Dougherty also advised Avient Corp. in the sale of its distribution business to an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital for $950 million in cash.
Davis Polk was among the top ten law firms in global deals announced by volume by principal in 2022, advising on 141 transactions worth $151 billion, according to Bloomberg mergers and acquisitions league tables.
Jones Day advised on 350 deals with $51 billion in 2022, according to the league tables.
Sources close to the matter said that Dougherty’s move was brokered by Sabina Lippman, partner and co-founder of global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers.