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Watson Farley hires disputes partner from Ropes to widen finance coverage

Expansive City player Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has bolstered its disputes practice with the hire of regulatory specialist Thomas Ross from Ropes & Gray.

Andrew Savage, head of litigation and arbitration at WFW, told Legal Business that Ross will start in his new role on Monday (4 December).

Ropes & Gray had previously hired Ross as a partner in April 2015 to spearhead the Boston-bred firm’s City-based commercial litigation practice some five years after its launch in London. He was previously a partner at K&L Gates, focused on finance, asset management and pension-related disputes.

The new hire is part of an effort by WFW to build out its finance disputes practice, with a particular emphasis on white collar and regulatory matters.

WFW has been one of the most expansive City law firms of recent years, hiking turnover by 60% since 2012 to hit nearly £160m. The 145-partner law firm remains best known for its shipping finance, transport and energy work, though financial regulatory remains one of the most in-demand areas for law firms.

‘Watson Farley has a track record of finance litigation and Thomas Ross will help us develop this further,’ said Savage. ‘He has a strong track record in advising on white collar and regulatory matters and he will help bolster this expertise for the firm – along with our competition litigation and antitrust capabilities – to meet growing client demand.’

Ropes has seen something of a changing of the guard at its City arm in the last 18 months with a number of UK partners moving to other firms. Among them are finance duo Mark Wesseldine and Fergus Wheeler, who joined King & Spalding, and securities specialist Chris McGarry, who left for White & Case. Ropes has nevertheless been one of the most upwardly-mobile players in the US in recent years with the 1,150-lawyer outfit generating $1.49bn in the 2016 financial year, enough to put it in the US top 20.

For more on Ropes & Gray’s City arm see this year’s analysis piece (£)