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Revolving doors: Freshfields unveils multiple hires in US amid busy week for London firms

Amid a hectic start to June for lateral hiring, Freshfields has had a busy week, having added four new partners to both its London and New York practices. Derivatives and structured products specialist James Duncan will join the firm’s global transactions practice in London from Shearman & Sterling, following the news of its merger with A&O.

Duncan will advise the firm’s existing corporate, financial institution, financial sponsor, and private capital clients on cross-border transactions, strategic equity solutions and equity financings.

Also in New York, the firm announced the hire of David Sewell, a leading financial institution and fintech regulatory lawyer, who joins from Perkins Coie. He represents banks, non-bank financial institutions and fintech companies at all stages of the regulatory and enforcement lifecycle. His practice includes guiding clients on their most critical charter and licensing matters, business model and commercial objectives, transactions, examinations, regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, as well as the development and refinement of their compliance policies and procedures.

High-yield bond lawyer, Haden Henderson, joins the London practice from Baker McKenzie, where he has spent the past five years as a partner. He offers clients advice regarding private equity funds, corporations, investment banks, credit funds on high-yield bond offerings, committed leveraged finance transactions and bond restructuring.

Freshfields’ financing and capital markets partner, Aled Batey, explained the rationale behind Henderson’s appointment: ‘The private capital group is an area of real focus for the firm, so we have been investing in our leverage finance team across our network, and Haden forms an important part of that ongoing investment. The team has grown materially over the last two years, both from internal promotions and lateral growth, including Carol Van der Vorst in London and Allison Liff and Damian Ridealgh in New York.’

Ridealgh, also a hire in the past week, joins from Weil and is sought by private capital clients, including private equities, credit funds and financial institutions, for his expertise on capital solutions, special situations and liability management transactions. He has represented key clients, such as Hayfin Capital Management, CPPIB Credit Investments, Blackstone and Blue Torch Capital.

Batey added: ‘Our teams have been busy over the last 12 months, and we would expect that to continue over the coming period. More challenging finance markets tend to lead to clients considering a broader range of financing solutions.’

Allen & Overy, meanwhile, has invested in its infrastructure and energy practice with the addition of M&A partner Ed Holmes to its London practice from CMS. Holmes cut his teeth at Clifford Chance, where he joined as a trainee in 2010, eventually rising to the role of senior associate. Specialising in energy and infrastructure-focused M&A transactions, Holmes has experience in representing financial sponsors and corporates on takeovers, minority investments, acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures, IPOs and restructurings.

In London, Ben Cooper has joined TLT’s economic crime compliance practice from HSBC, where he formerly held positions as global head of financial crime and global head of anti-bribery and corruption.

Cooper explained the motivation behind his move to private practice: ‘My original plan was to spend a couple of years in house and get some experience. I had some great opportunities at HSBC, but I always wanted to go back to private practice where I can really utilise my experience.’

He added: ‘TLT has a leading financial services team which is fully imbedded in the sector. I want to bring my experience and knowledge from HSBC to the rest of the financial services industry and beyond, and TLT is the best place for that.’

Meanwhile, Fieldfisher has announced the addition of former Freshfields trainee and Travers Smith partner, Sebastian Reger, to its London financial markets and products offering.

As part of his broad derivatives and structured finance practice, Reger focuses on representing clients in the pensions sector, as well as alternative asset managers and fintech businesses. He is particularly recognised for his expertise in pensions, having worked with insurers, banks, asset managers, trustees and sponsors on investment and ALM products, risk-transfer solutions, as well as covenant and funding arrangements.

Reger said: ‘Underlying my move is my belief that the market is increasingly blurring the old dividing lines between buy-side and sell-side. Today’s clients are focused more on solutions and less on narrow product lines. For us lawyers, this means that we have to be able to advise seamlessly across banking, derivatives, structured finance, insurance and all the other finance areas. To be successful you have to be forward looking, committed to financial services and have a strong and wide bench of lawyers. Fieldfisher offers this.’

Howard Kennedy has appointed two new partners to its London construction and dispute resolution practices.

Rebecca Hume has joined the firm from Gately, where she spent the past two years following her return from offshore practice. She represents clients in commercial disputes, often involving cross-border creditor-debtor clashes, international fraud, asset recovery, international judgement, and award enforcement. Hume has expertise in the use of contentious insolvency and receiverships to unlock value for insolvent estates and monetise claims.

Speaking with Legal Business, Hume said: ‘The disputes resolution-side is a very profitable part of the business. The work I do straddles the civil fraud practice and the business crime unit which deals with white-collar disputes. The fact that they have brought me on into the firm to compliment the practices and fill a gap is a testimony to the growth of the firm in this area.’

Construction lawyer and solicitor-advocate, Jonathan Pawlowski, joins Howard Kennedy’s London office from Collyer Bristow, where he headed the construction practice for 12 years.

Pawlowski said: ‘There have been various trends in the market, such as cladding replacement work, and refurbishing housing stocks. The impact of Brexit has resulted in a shortage of labour on the sites which is affecting contractors and profit margins. There has been a huge increase in building materials thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Recent years have built a lot of uncertainty in the construction market.’

Elsewhere, Watson Farley & Williams has bolstered its London aviation and disputes practice with the addition of Tim Murray from Holland & Knight.

Murray advises aircraft lessors and financiers, airports, operators and other aviation-related businesses on a wide range of aviation and travel-related regulatory and dispute resolution matters, including leasing, aircraft finance, insurance, aircraft repossessions, aircraft engineering, accidents, and contractual disagreements.

Murray explained to Legal Business: ‘It is still a challenging time for the aviation industry. Obviously there has been a significant recovery since Covid. In fact, IATA said very recently that global profits for airlines are expected to be better than forecasted at the beginning of the year. It is still not great – $9.8bn – although clearly a lot better than during 2020-2022, where the losses were about $183bn.’

London co-head of dispute resolution, Rob Fidoe, added: ‘We have a longstanding aviation practice that  has grown significantly in the last three years. The amount of disputes we have seen in that time has grown too.

‘We have experts in the team, but the amount of work out there made it clear that we needed more. Tim brings a huge wealth of additional experience; we are delighted to have him join.’

Finally, Stephenson Harwood’s London practice has announced the return of corporate partner Karima Hudson from Taylor Wessing, who was previously at the firm between 2015 and 2021.

Hudson brings expertise in the healthcare sector to the firm’s practice, offering her services to a range of corporate clients such as care homes, fertility clinics and healthcare sector investors.