Funds practice leader to join Dechert in latest Travers Smith exit

Dechert law firm logo is seen at the entrance to its office in Washington
A logo of Dechert law firm is seen at the entrance to its office in Washington, U.S., May 20, 2022. Picture taken May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Raphael Satter
  • Travers Smith investment fund group leader Sam Kay is set to join Dechert in London
  • Other senior Travers Smith partners have joined U.S. law firms in London in recent months

March 22 - Dechert is adding Sam Kay to its financial service and investment management practice in London, the firm said Wednesday, becoming the latest U.S. law firm to hire a senior partner from UK-based Travers Smith.Kay's starting date at Dechert is yet to be confirmed, a firm spokesperson said.

Kay, a former leader of the investment funds group, leaves Travers Smith after 25 years, including 14 years as partner. He specializes in fund formation work in the private equity, infrastructure and real estate sectors, Dechert said in a statement.

Kay has advised funds, fund managers and private equity firms including Benson Elliot Capital Management (now Pinebridge Investments), Hermes GPE, Abris Capital Partners, Medicxi and Elysian Capital LLP, according to an archived version of his biography on Travers Smith’s website.

Travers Smith has lost a number of practice leaders to U.S. firms in recent months. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett hired a trio of asset management partners from Travers Smith including Stephanie Biggs to co-lead its European financial services and funds. M&A tax leader Jessica Kemp left to join White & Case last month.

Private equity head Ian Shawyer left for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in January. Goodwin Procter hired employment partner Alex Fisher in November, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson added private equity partner James Renahan in September.

A Travers Smith spokesperson wished Kay well but declined to comment on other recent departures from the firm.

Kay is Dechert’s second London partner hire this year after it hired the leader of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s outpost in the city in a three-lawyer antitrust move.

Philadelphia-founded Dechert made only one hire in the city last year with the addition of Ropes & Gray's global white collar co-leader Judith Seddon in March.

Kay’s “reputation and experience will help shape our continued growth in the London private equity fund formation market, amongst others,” said Gus Black, co-chair of Dechert’s global financial services group, in a statement.

(Note: This story has been updated to clarify that Sam Kay has not yet joined Dechert.)

Reporting by Nimitt Dixit

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Nimitt Dixit reports on the business of law and key partner movement in the EMEA and APAC markets. Reach him at