Kevin Arquit, the former general counsel of the Federal Trade Commission who has led Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s antitrust practice, is joining Weil Gotshal & Manges, the firm announced on Tuesday.
Arquit, 62, is set to join Weil in New York as the co-head of the firm’s antitrust and competition practice. He will lead alongside Steven Newborn, who Arquit worked with as far back as his years at the FTC in the 1980s and 90s.
“Now you have two of the best antitrust lawyers in the country under the same roof,” said Barry Wolf, chair of Weil, who described the addition as a game changer.
Some of the largest client matters Arquit advised on with Simpson Thacher include representing DirecTV in its $48.5 billion sale to AT&T, Lorillard in its $27.4 billion sale to Reynolds American and Holcim Ltd. in its $50 billion merger with Lafarge.
Arquit isn’t expected to join Weil until sometime next month and he wasn’t available for an interview because he’s still a partner with Simpson Thacher, according to Wolf.
However, Wolf said that he was confident that Arquit would join. “It’s a done deal,” he said. “We wouldn’t announce it if it wasn’t a done deal.”
Bill Dougherty, chair of Simpson Thacher, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Because Arquit wasn’t available for comment, the factors that led him to join Weil after more than 10 years with Simpson Thacher are unclear. Wolf became involved in Steven Newborn’s discussions to bring Arquit onboard over the past several months and met with him over a series of dinners and meetings, Wolf said. But interestingly, Wolf said he didn’t discuss client matters that Arquit would bring over to Weil with him.
“Honestly, we didn’t talk about that,” said Wolf. “This isn’t about matters he’s bringing over at all. Our view is, with him and Steve together, and our M&A practice, business will be booming. So we didn’t have any discussions about what he would bring over.”
He continued: “Yes, it’s unusual but this is an unusual talent and situation in that he is probably one of the top one or two antitrust lawyers in the country... it’s not like you had to do a whole lot of due diligence.”
There’s also a human element to the move: In joining Weil, Arquit rejoins a team of lawyers he previously worked with at a firm once known as Rogers & Wells, which Arquit joined in 1992 from the FTC and stayed with when it merged with Clifford Chance in 2000. Outside of Newborn, the team Arquit worked with includes Weil partners Jim Egan, Carrie Mahan, Laura Wilkinson and counsel John Sipple. Meanwhile, another Weil partner, John Scribner, worked with Arquit at Clifford Chance and many of the lawyers also worked with Arquit at the FTC.
Arquit left Clifford Chance in 2002 to join Simpson Thacher and Newborn left in 2003 for Weil Gotshal.
Asked why Weil issued an announcement today instead of waiting until January, Wolf didn’t elaborate: “I can’t discuss that but... we let Simpson know we were doing this earlier today. It was a whole host of factors that we felt it was important to do it now.”