‘It’s A Big Win For Latham’: What Does Paul Dolman’s Hire Mean For His New Firm?

For Travers Smith, the exit of private equity head Paul Dolman last month dealt a significant blow, many in the market said at the time.

But what does it mean for the winning team in this transaction — his new home, Latham & Watkins?

Several partners at rival firms in the London market say that Dolman’s hire is “a big win for Latham”, with one recruiter adding that Dolman is “a good fit” for the firm.

Latham’s London-based private equity leaders are keen to stress that Dolman’s arrival need not be heralded as a new era for the team, while at the same time celebrating the added depth it will grant their relations with several funds.

After Law.com International broke the news of Dolman’s move, two partners at rival firms questioned whether Dolman’s hire represented a change in strategy for Latham to target more ‘mid-market’ private equity players, compared to their usual larger roster.

Dolman counts several such funds in his arsenal of clients, including Bridgepoint Capital, TA Associates, and Hellman & Friedman. Latham already has relationships with these funds, but Latham’s global private equity vice chair Kem Ihenacho and global corporate vice chair David Walker say that Dolman’s influence will serve to strengthen those links.

“There isn’t a change in strategy, but this just gives us greater bandwidth to do more with some important clients where we feel we can have more market share, but also have another recognised senior partner on the team,” Ihenacho says.

“We’re not hiring him for his book of business”

The mid-market, he adds, is also “a very lucrative and active sector of the market”.

“It’s one we have been very involved in already and, frankly, all of our competitors also want to do more in that space.”

So far as Dolman’s book of business that Latham doesn’t currently have a hand in is concerned, the firm seems largely relaxed.

“We’re not hiring him for his book of business,” Walker says. “We’re hiring him because he’s a top quality player and has great relationships with clients. We are not expecting him to bring his book of business because we already have relationships with [his key clients].”

Unlike recent flurries of partner moves from U.K. firms to U.S. challengers — such as U.S. firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel’s hire of several Allen & Overy partners last year — Dolman’s move is a solo one, Latham confirms.

He won’t be joined by a team from Travers, Walker says, adding that the firm’s substantial associate bench will work with Dolman when he eventually arrives at the firm.

One London recruiter queried how Latham will plan to integrate Dolman into a team with so many other senior partners. At Travers, Dolman was one of just a handful of lawyers working on top mandates — plus, he occupied a significant leadership position.

“How Dolman will fit into things, particularly if he can’t bring assumedly loyal members of his former Travers team with him, is something I imagine Latham would want to establish sooner rather than later,” the recruiter adds.

With Dolman yet to land at his new home, Latham has time to capitalise on his entry and will undoubtedly want him to hit the ground running. His ex-colleagues at Travers and Latham’s rivals in the London market will be watching closely when he does.

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