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Fieldfisher loses Facebook to Hogan Lovells as the firm hires Bristows partner as privacy head

Fieldfisher has lost key instructions from social networking giant Facebook which is set to direct privacy and information law work to top-ten firm Hogan Lovells.

The news emerges just weeks after its high profile head of privacy Eduardo Ustaran joined Hogan Lovells to lead its European arm within the global privacy and information management practice. Fieldfisher did, however, yesterday (29 July) announce a successor for Ustaran with the recruitment of Bristows partner Hazel Grant.

While Facebook do not currently operate a formal panel for external legal advisers, Fieldfisher’s strength in the technology, media and telecommunications sector previously saw it act for the company.

On Facebook directing work to Hogan Lovells, Fieldfisher’s head of technology, outsourcing and privacy, Robert Shooter, told Legal Business: ‘Facebook don’t have a panel as such. With Eduardo leaving us, undoubtedly some clients will follow him (and we anticipate clients joining us following Hazel’s hire). Facebook may choose to go with Eduardo to Hogans, or instruct both firms.’

Ustaran’s departure was a blow to Fieldfisher, despite its leading privacy practice that also counted Vodafone, Thomson Reuters, Ernst & Young, Nintendo, Reed Elsevier and Orange Business Services among its clients. It was not confirmed at the time of writing whether Fieldfisher had retained its position on Vodafone’s newly revamped panel.

Fieldfisher is also losing a four-strong associate team who are joining Ustaran at Hogan Lovells, while former Fieldfisher legal director Sian Rudgard already joined as of counsel in June.

The exit of Ustaran, a dual-qualified English solicitor and Spanish abogado, was considered contentious after he was given an exceptional 18-month notice period at the time of his resignation last October. He did, however, exit the firm to join Hogan Lovells in June, almost a year before the notice period expired.

In April, the firm also saw the departure of data protection and privacy partner Stewart Room for PwC Legal, and trade mark and brand protection practice head Mark Holah for Bird & Bird.

The firm has made some lateral hires of its own. As well as Grant, who is set to join the firm in late August, other partner recruits includes Osborne Clarke’s head of technology Mark Webber.

And with high profile client names including VMware, Netflix, Expedia and Box still on the roster, Shooter adds: ‘We’re still one of the largest privacy groups in Europe and we’re top ranked. We’re delighted about Hazel joining us and [partner] Phil Lee leading the charge in Palo Alto.’

Shooter added that the technology, outsourcing and privacy group is also enjoying a busy period and is seeking to hire partners to expand further, specifically in Manchester. ‘We’re looking at the Manchester market. With our merger with Heatons earlier this year, we’re looking to build on our existing team. We believe there is a business case for hiring a technology partner in Manchester and from there building a team. There are some really exciting times ahead.’

Hogan Lovells declined to comment. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing.