06 May 2021

Clifford Chance boosts Australian M&A team with twin partner hire from Gilbert + Tobin

Sydney Harbour

David Clee and Elizabeth Hill add to recent corporate partner promotions in Sydney

Clifford Chance has hired two partners from Gilbert + Tobin in Australia to bolster its financial investor and M&A practice in the country.

The duo is made up of David Clee and Elizabeth Hill, with the magic circle firm also promoting Sydney-based counsels Jacob Kahwaji and Reuben van Werkum to the partnership. Clee and Hill’s practice focuses on public and private M&A, IPOs and distressed transactions, with Hill also specialising in technology-related venture capital deals.

Andrew Cook, co-head of Clifford Chance’s corporate practice, said: “The Australian M&A environment is home to increasingly sophisticated financial investors requiring top-tier legal advisors who understand the complex regulatory framework and have proven deal experience. David and Elizabeth collectively offer our clients impressive experience.”

Clee joins the firm after 14 years at Gilbert + Tobin in Sydney, almost a decade of them as partner. He also previously worked for Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Hill, meantime, was at Gilbert + Tobin for just shy of nine years, becoming partner in 2017. She also spent just over five years as an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in San Francisco before moving to Australia. 

Richard Gordon, Clifford Chance’s Australian managing partner, said: “David and Elizabeth add yet another dimension in our corporate offering. All our new partners have impressive experience acting on high profile deals, as well as deep regulatory and market understanding that will greatly benefit our domestic and international clients.”

New partner Van Werkum has been at the firm since 2018, following a two year spell as a senior associate at Hogan Lovells. He also previously worked at Gilbert + Tobin in Sydney and Russell McVeagh in Auckland. Likewise, Kahwaji has been at the firm since 2018. He joined from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he spent more than nine years. Their practices both focus on M&A and private equity transactions. 

Their promotions were part of a 29-strong partnership round globally, with 11 women making the cut – the largest number of promoted female partners to date. The corporate team also added new partners in Beijing and Abu Dhabi, as well as in Europe, the UK and the US.

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