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Freshfields’ top deal lawyer Mark Rawlinson quits for senior banking role at Morgan Stanley

Mark Rawlinson, one of the top City lawyers of his generation, is to quit Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to join Morgan Stanley as its new chair of UK investment banking.

He will join the global financial services corporation in October after 34 years at the Magic Circle law firm. Rawlinson (pictured) entered talks with Morgan Stanley last summer and signed off on the decision last week. The role will be primarily client-facing.

A protégé of former Freshfields senior partner Anthony Salz, Rawlinson became a partner at Freshfields in 1990, later appointed to head of corporate from 2008 before moving into the role of London head in 2011, which he held for two years.

He is generally viewed alongside longtime friend Steve Cooke and fellow Slaughter and May heavyweight Nigel Boardman as one of the City’s top M&A lawyers. Rawlinson remained a highly productive operator throughout his career, recently advising ABInbev on its £71bn acquisition of SABMiller, BG Group on the £47bn offer from Royal Dutch Shell and the London Stock Exchange Group on its current merger with Deutsche Börse.

Speaking to Legal Business, Rawlinson described the offer as a fresh challenge at a ‘brilliant brand’. He added: ‘I’ve been at Freshfields for 34 years and 26 as a partner. Everything I’d set myself in terms of goals, I’ve achieved. This opportunity came up, it’s massively in my sweet spot – it’s all deals. With them asking, I’d be an idiot not to do it.’

Rawlinson said he hoped he would bring his credibility with boards to the role. ‘There’s a lack of people of my age and vintage in M&A in big banks these days. I think they were looking for that deal credibility.’

Click here to read our Life During Law interview with Mark Rawlinson.