Ex-Latham partner launches executive employment practice
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The Walkie-Talkie commercial skyscraper on 20 Fenchurch Street in the financial district of London

Stephen Brown, former Latham & Watkins partner and chair of its European employment group, has launched a new boutique law firm providing advice for executive employment in the private equity space.

Based in London, Icon Law aims to support private equity (PE) investors and public and private companies on executive employment law and the structuring of share incentives and management equity arrangements for chief executives, chairs, senior executives, and non-executive directors of portfolio companies.

“Right now, the stakes could not be higher for private equity sponsors and their advisors,” said Brown. “The performance of the industry, not to mention future allocations, depends on its ability to steer a highly diverse portfolio of about 65,000 companies to safety. The management team is critical to delivering that success.

“Icon Law is designed to partner with PE sponsors to help them get the most out of their management teams, focusing on managing employment issues and the taxation and structuring of share incentive arrangements across those businesses on a cross-border basis.

“I believe a lot of the value in private equity M&A is advising on management team issues. We are perfectly placed to support the most progressive sponsors on the employment and incentivisation of management teams and the structuring of tax-efficient equity and carry structures.”

Brown joined Latham in 2003 as the US firm’s first employment lawyer in London, where he developed a practice covering employment, pensions and incentives for clients including Carlyle, Onex, Odyssey, Wagamama, and Diageo.

A former vice-chair of Latham’s global tax practice, Brown believes the evolution of the legal services market will be marked by niche firms building venture relationships with Big Law.

“This firm is created and designed around the new model of legal service delivery, characterised by seamless integration with other legal and advisory businesses and a modern attitude to harnessing the latest tools, talent, and technology,” said Brown.

“It also means that we can think and act in a truly client-centric way. It’s a really fluid engagement model, available to plug in anywhere.”

Icon Law is supported by Prosperant LLP, an advisory business experienced in designing new legal platforms, and an established background in growing leading international law firms and barristers’ chambers.

Prosperant is founded by Paul Martenstyn, a former managing director of Vannin Capital and ex-deputy senior clerk of Fountain Court Chambers in London.