Legal Business Blogs

Freshfields loses City aviation finance team as exits continue

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer‘s aviation finance team is to depart for Holland & Knight following the exit of London’s sole aviation finance partner Rob Murphy.

Murphy, who serves as the firm’s global head of asset finance team and is co-head of its aviation sector group will exit at the end of this year to join China Development Bank’s aircraft leasing unit CDB Aviation Lease Finance as its general counsel and chief operating officer.

Freshfields aviation finance counsel William Coleman and senior associate Victoria Koob will be made up to partner in the move to Holland & Knight. The duo will be joined by three more associates from Freshfields; Laurence Long, Fabio Miceli and Rachel Thomasen.

The departure follows a ‘recalibration’ of Freshfields’ finance practice last year, which saw leveraged finance split into its own team, giving the department four groups.

The shake-up also led to a modest narrowing of the practice with two more City finance partners set to retire at the end of the financial year.

The firm has also put finance partners on its second lockstep, a model brought in some years ago. Those partners from Freshfields’ finance practice now join partners in Japan and Germany, and practices such as IP and employment on the second ladder, which runs from 10-30 points and sits alongside the traditional 17.5-50-point ladder. Freshfields finance head Simon Johnson won’t say how many partners are on this separate structure, but says it is ‘it is used very sparingly’.

Kirkland & Ellis returned to Freshfields in December for another finance recruit, taking Jonathan Birks after taking star partner Michael Steele in 2015. Other recent exits from Freshfields finance team include real estate specialist Jeffrey Rubinoff, who announced his move to White & Case in July 2016 and Ian Frost who quit for Vinson & Elkins in February.

Read more: ‘Recasting finance at Freshfields: high ambition married with gently lowered expectations’