Sidley Austin’s leader says it’s “time to buy” in the lateral partner market, as the firm adds a mergers and acquisitions partner following a growth in revenue last year.
The move underscores how law firms are hiring even as dealmaking remains at a tepid pace and the macroeconomic outlook is clouded by interest rate hikes and a possible recession. Law firm hiring in 2023 is just 1.6% off of last year’s pace, according to data from Leopard Solutions.
“During periods like this of disruption, it’s a great time to invest,” Sidley management committee chair Yvette Ostolaza said in an interview. “We think this is a time to buy.”
The firm is adding former White & Case partner Germaine Nicole Gurr, who will work in New York and eventually out of Miami and Los Angeles, Sidley said in a statement.
Gurr’s practice focuses on M&A, private equity, securities offerings, capital raising, joint venture and commercial transactions, according to Sidley.
The hire comes the same month Sidley hired former Shearman & Sterling M&A partner Phil Cheveley in London.
In November, Sidley brought aboard former White & Case international M&A partner Michiel Visser in New York.
Ostolaza, who’s also a member of the firm’s executive committee, declined to specify the firm’s revenues last year but said they would be a record, ecplising last year’s total of nearly $2.8 billion, based on AmLaw data.
Many law firms are expected to report declines in revenue and profits after a down year in transactions that fueled huge gains for many firms in 2020 and 2021.
Despite the downturn in dealmaking, Sidley has committed to growing its nearly 500-lawyer M&A practice, Ostolaza said.
Gurr’s recruitment to Sidley began when she sent a LinkedIn note to Ostolaza congratulating her on becoming chair-elect of Sidley in April 2021. The two had worked together at Weil Gotshal & Manges.
Gurr is a first-generation Cuban American who grew up in Miami, where Sidley opened an office in July. Joining a major law firm led by Ostolaza, who also grew up in Miami with Cuban immigrant parents, resonated with her, Gurr said.
“I joined Sidley because there were a number of my former colleagues who were already at Sidley and I couldn’t wait for another opportunity to work with them,” she said. “But on a personal note, I share a very deep connection to Yvette and our similar family narratives. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of the firm under her leadership.”
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