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Freshfields latest to bulk up in the US with Cadwalader corporate hire

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has boosted its US platform, taking corporate partner Aly El Hamamsy from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

El Hamamsy’s clients include Santander, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Cigna Corporation, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Mercuria Energy Group, Barclays and Exelon Corporation. He will be based in the firm’s New York office.

Freshfields made a string of hires in the US last year, taking on Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate trio Valerie Ford Jacob, Michael Lewitt and Paul Tropp as well as Shearman & Sterling’s M&A veteran Peter Lyons. The Magic Circle firm also took on Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s experienced corporate disputes specialist Linda Martin and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom counsel David Almroth who was promoted to partner as part of the move. The firm now has 38 partners in the US.

Earlier this year Freshfields lost its executive partner Michael Lacovara, who was based in New York, to Latham & Watkins’ litigation & trial department. Freshfields absorbed Lacovara’s exit by splitting his management role between the firm’s three remaining members of its global leadership: Chris Pugh, Ed Braham and Stephan Eilers.

El Hamamsy (pictured) said: ‘If you look at where the demand in the legal market is going in the most complex, cross border matters, clients are increasingly looking for turnkey solutions and Freshfields, with its geographic and subject matter breadth and depth and excellence, really is a unique platform in the legal market globally.’

Freshfields US M&A head Mitchell Presser said: ‘In the US we certainly don’t view there being competition from the Magic Circle. We view it as competition for global advice. The US market is one of the most mature and competitive markets that you can imagine. We have a really differentiated offering that really helps us. Our combination of global strength across all the key markets is a real differentiating factor for us in the US and that’s the place we do compete. That’s where we have a strong competitive advantage.’

Meanwhile, Cadwalader confirmed in September it would close its Beijing and Hong Kong operations by the end of 2016, cutting 25 staff including four partners. An internal document confirmed a committee of partners including the management committee had recently conducted a strategic analysis of the firm’s direction. Managing partner Patrick Quinn said the firm is now keen on focusing on organic growth and stressed that Cadwalader is in a very solid financial position, with demand being up and on track for improved profitability compared with last year.

In the City, Cadwalader grew its office by 17% last year, upping its head count to 56 lawyers.

Read more: ‘When will the US become a land of opportunity for Freshfields?’