Former Paul Hastings global M&A chair Roger Barron has taken up a post at Eversheds Sutherland as a senior adviser, as the firm looks to seriously invest in its M&A and wider corporate offering. Barron, who left Paul Hastings in March, is regarded as a rainmaker in the legal M&A world and spent the majority of his career at Linklaters in the U.K. before joining Paul Hastings in 2018.
Eversheds Sutherland is now looking to harness that experience as it seeks to strengthen its corporate sphere and “push the brand forward”, according to co-head of global corporate and commercial Keri Rees.
Barron worked with the firm in 2016 while he was still at Linklaters, when the pair advised National Grid on its £11 billion gas distribution arm sale. As a result of that and other experiences of the firm previously, when Rees reached out with the proposal on news of Barron’s departure from Paul Hastings earlier this year, he described the decision to join as “very easy”.
“My mantra [when deciding whether to move somewhere] is: ‘is it somewhere I can make a difference, and will I enjoy doing it?’” He thinks the answer to both those questions is yes – and Eversheds is more than happy to have his expertise on board.
Barron will join on an initial two-year contract, commencing his role at the end of May. His remit will be wide ranging, he and Rees said, and include identifying strategic areas that the firm can push more into, via cementing client relationships and lateral hires.
The firm has already made several lateral additions to its partner ranks in recent months with a view to bolster its entire corporate offering and the practice areas that are what Rees described as “key parts” of M&A deals.
While Eversheds added Dentons corporate partners Adriana Cotter and Martin Mankabady and corporate partner Jon Gill from Pinsent Masons last year, major big name U.K. hires are rare for the firm, which lost its former consumer and retail head James Bantham to Dentons in April.
The aim now is to add more talent with that focus, Rees said, after a 12-month period of reflection about what the firm gets right in corporate and where it wants to move forward.
“We do lots of high value complex work but we don’t talk about it enough, and we sometimes do ourselves a disservice where we stretch ourselves too thin [across practice areas],” Rees added.
Both he and Barron identify areas including foreign direct investment and antitrust as two areas that are key to the firm’s corporate maneuvering, arguing that expertise in those two practices are what clients need to confidently undertake transformative M&A.
The firm worked on 16 deals worth over a billion dollars last year, according to Rees, and the firm hopes with Barron’s arrival that big ticket work will start filling up their partners’ in-trays more and more.
Rees himself is the client relationship partner for Rolls Royce, and he points to the firms’ previous mandates for the client, including the disposal of its loss-making marine arm for £500 million in 2018 and funding for its newly-established Small Modular Reactor business last year, of evidence of relationship building that the firm is keen to replicate across other established and new clients.
Barron describes part of his role as “helping to unlock potential that’s there and then building on that, via lateral hires etc, by getting in there and talking to people. It’s about identifying those opportunities and helping position lawyers to put themselves forward for them.”
But the long-time deal junkie also won’t shy away from getting round the deal table if the situation calls for it, he said. “That element of work was part of what Keri and I discussed when talking about me joining, and I’m very enthusiastic about it.”