Veteran PE lawyer Witney departs Debevoise for Travers Smith

Simon Witney, one of the most prominent practitioners in UK and European private equity, is leaving the firm after almost four years.

Simon Witney, a prominent figure in the private equity world who was named one of the 30 most influential lawyers in global private equity by Private Equity International, is leaving Debevoise & Plimpton.

Simon Witney
Simon Witney

London-based Witney joins Travers Smith as a senior consultant specialising in servicing clients in the international private capital market across regulatory, transactional and fund formation disciplines, according to a statement seen by PEI.

He started his role on Tuesday.

“As corporate governance regulation increases, financial services regulation evolves and governments increase their focus on sustainability and human rights, which is in sharp focus now as many people return to physical working in the coming months, our clients will need expert guidance to navigate the changing rules and societal norms. All of those challenges have an important common theme and my job will be to make sure the firm’s clients benefit from the wide range of expertise we have,” Witney told PEI.

Witney was a special counsel at Debevoise and had been a member of the firm’s private equity, funds/investment management and business integrity groups since 2017, working with US and European clients on fund issues including corporate governance, sustainability and Brexit. Prior to that he was a consultant at King Wood & Mallesons between 2013 and 2017 and a partner at SJ Berwin between 2001 and 2013.

Geoffrey Kittredge, chair of Debevoise & Plimpton’s European funds/investment Management Group, told PEI in an email: “Simon has played an important role in the growth of our practice since joining at the start of 2017. He leaves with our thanks and best wishes for his next challenge.”

Commenting on Witney’s appointment, Kathleen Russ, a senior partner at Travers Smith, said: “As one of the most prominent practitioners and thinkers in the field of private equity, regularly advising on transactional, fund, regulatory and sustainability matters, Simon is a perfect fit for our practice and I am delighted that he is joining the firm.”

Witney has served in senior positions within the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association and Invest Europe for more than 20 years. He is a member of the BVCA Council, which is responsible for the industry association’s strategic direction and oversight, and previously chaired the industry association’s legal and accounting committee from 2010 to 2016.

Witney is also a member of Invest Europe’s financial services/regulatory working group and professional standards committee and chaired its tax, legal and regulatory committee from 2013 to 2015. He was also a member of the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association’s legal and regulatory council from 2009 to 2013.

Witney is a regular contributor to PEI – his latest guest commentary discusses the most important environmental, social and governance issues to the industry in 2020.