‘Supercharging it’ and ‘pretty wild’ are not superlatives usually cropping up on your average conference call with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. If the conversation with Ethan Klingsberg (pictured), the Wall Street M&A star that led a four-partner team exit from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, was not very Freshfields, Edward Braham’s unrestrained enthusiasm for the hires when the news broke in October was similarly striking for the unfailingly understated senior partner. Reinforcing how much Freshfields had riding on this, Braham was in New York personally supervising the move upon announcement.
Even critics of Freshfields’ slow-and-steady US strategy are applauding the Cleary haul – the prominent M&A veteran Klingsberg, Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – as the kind of daring statement that has been previously missing. ‘I admire them for having a go,’ admits one ex-partner, now at a US firm, expressing the consensus view.