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Freshfields recruits Linklaters’ alternative legal services head as chief operating officer

Linklaters’ global head of alternative legal services has quit just months into his role to become chief operating officer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Mark Higgs (pictured), the former head of Ashurst Advance who was hired by Linklaters in April to spearhead its flexible lawyering platform, Re:link, is joining Freshfields in December. He had been chief operating officer of Re:link and became global head of alternative legal services at Linklaters in October.

In a statement, Linklaters said Higgs had joined to the firm to support the launch of the firm’s flexible resourcing platform. Linklaters director of legal operations Stewart Chippindale will continue to provide senior leadership and strategic direction for alternative resourcing, including Re:link, innovation and knowledge & learning.

The firm said: ‘Since launch, Re:link has significantly surpassed its client and consultant targets and its experienced team will continue to provide our clients and our practices with market leading support. We thank Mark for his help on the project.’

At the time of his appointment at Linklaters, Higgs told Legal Business: ‘I have been speaking with Gideon [Moore, managing partner] and members of the board throughout 2018 as they shaped their idea. To join a firm like Linklaters to launch and lead a new area was a one-off opportunity.’

Claire Wills, Freshfields’ London managing partner, commented: ‘We’re delighted to have Mark on board at what is an incredibly exciting time for the London office, as we prepare for our move to 100 Bishopsgate. His experience will be invaluable in helping us drive forwards our business and operations strategy.’

For Freshfields, the hire is another signal of its intent to increase its firepower on both sides of the Atlantic following the hire last month of a four-partner M&A team in Wall Street from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

The team – led by prominent M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg and including partners Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – is viewed as a trophy acquisition for Freshfields’ US corporate offering, which has struggled to gain momentum in recent years.

It follows the departure, however, of the Manchester-based global head of service and transformation who became chief information officer last December, Jon Grainger, to Slater and Gordon as chief information officer last month.

Elsewhere, the former chief executive of Peerpoint, Allen & Overy’s new law operations, Richard Punt quit the Magic Circle firm for Thomson Reuters in January.