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Freshfields loses executive from leadership quartet as Michael Lacovara joins Latham

Michael Lacovara, executive partner at Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, has quit to join Latham & Watkins.

Lacovara, who is based in New York, leaves just six months after being appointed executive partner. He joins Latham as a partner in the litigation & trial department in the firm’s New York office.

Well-respected throughout the firm, Lacovara became executive partner as part of a management reshuffle that saw Chris Pugh elected joint managing partner alongside Cologne-based Stephan Eilers, and Edward Braham elected senior partner. The new management structure, voted through by the partnership last June, came into effect at the beginning of this year.

Part of a four-man global leadership team at Freshfields, Lacovara manages the firm’s global business services functions, and is responsible for the continuing refinement of the firm’s operating model and enhancement of its operational efficiency and client-service delivery.

Lacovara is credited with the launch of Freshfields’ legal services hub in Vancouver, Canada, as it bids to drive down costs by moving business support to lower-cost locations. The move followed a large launch in Manchester, which will see up to 700 IT, human resources and document review jobs created or moved to the north of England.

He leaves Freshfields after just four years at the firm, after making a high profile move back into private practice in 2012 from securities trading and investment banking firm Cortview Capital Holdings, which he co-founded in 2010 and served as president.

A former Sullivan & Cromwell partner, Lacovara is a well-regarded litigator in the US and co-founded S&C’s Palo Alto office in 2000. He represented Microsoft in the federal government’s landmark antitrust case against the software giant, and counts HSBC and Goldman Sachs as clients.

He left S&C in 2004 to join investment banking client Sandler O’Neill as its first general counsel and built up a strong business pedigree before his return to private practice. He went on to become chief operating officer at Sandler O’Neill, before moving to investment bank Rodman & Renshaw Capital Group as chief executive.

Freshfields will absorb Lacovara’s exit by splitting his management roles between the firm’s three remaining members of its global leadership: Pugh, Braham and Eilers.

The news comes just a day after star M&A lawyer, Mark Rawlinson, confirmed his decision to leave Freshfields after 34 years at the firm to head Morgan Stanley’s UK unit. Rawlinson held a string of senior posts at Freshfields, including stints as head of corporate and UK head.

In a brief statement, Pugh said: ‘We thank Michael for his contribution to the firm.’

Read more on Freshfields’ leadership and strategy in the feature: ‘The last champions – meet the leaders intent on sealing Freshfields’ place in the global elite’