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Making a splash – partners from Shearman, Covington and Jones Day join breakaway Freshfields arbitration boutique

As brand new start-ups go, the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer-breakaway arbitration boutique set up by heavyweight arbitrators Constantine Partasides, Paris-based Georgias Petrochilos and former arbitration co-chair Jan Paulsson earlier this month is making quite a splash.

Following news of its launch on 17 February, the latest announcement today (26 February), less than ten days later, is that Shearman & Sterling Paris international arbitration partner Todd Wetmore, Covington & Burling’s London-based international arbitration co-chair Gaetan Verhoosel, and Washington-based Jones Day litigation partner Luke Sobota have all resigned to co-found the new venture.

To say the boutique is making a name for itself already would be somewhere between hyperbole and irony, not least because it has yet to be given a name, however, the weight of the partners behind it means it has already been noticed by FTSE 100 companies, with a spokesperson for one major energy company recently remarking in an unofficial capacity that the boutique is of interest for being free of the conflicts that often dog established private practice arbitration practices.

All six named partners will be co-founders of the new firm, which will be run out of three major financial hubs: London, Washington and Paris.

Timothy Hester, chair of Covington’s management committee said: ‘We thank him [Verhoosel] for his contributions to our award-winning international arbitration practice, and wish him well in this next chapter of his career. We expect to continue to work closely with Gaëtan on existing as well as new matters, and we see a bright future for this practice.’

Shearman & Sterling’s head of international arbitration Emmanuel Gaillard added: ‘I have enjoyed working with Todd and seeing him develop into a great arbitration specialist. I have great respect for his work and have no doubt that he will continue to be successful in his new practice. I am thankful for his contribution and I am sure that we will continue working together in the years to come.’

Jones Day declined to comment.