Herbert Smith hires six-partner team for high stakes US launch

Herbert Smith has hired a six-partner litigation team from Chadbourne & Parke as the City law firm gears up for its much-touted US launch.

The team, which focuses on product liability work and tobacco litigation specifically, comprises five New York-based partners, including Chadbourne’s litigation head, Thomas Riley.

The four other New York partners are Gregory Loss, Chadbourne’s product liability and defence practice group head; David Wallace; Allison Alcasabas; and Joseph Falcone. The sixth partner, Philip Pfeffer, is based in the 400-lawyer New York firm’s London arm.

They will be joined in New York by Herbert Smith arbitration partner Chris Parker, who is relocating from London to establish an arbitration practice in the US when the City firm’s New York arm opens in September.

Herbert Smith’s New York office will focus on contentious work with particular emphasis on cross-border investigations, international arbitration and cross-border litigation.

Herbert Smith senior partner Jonathan Scott commented: “We have recruited a very high calibre team whose reputation will allow us to hit the ground running in New York. Their collegial, cohesive approach fits in well with our culture and provides a very strong platform on which to achieve our objective of building a leading cross-border disputes practice in New York.”

“We remain committed to a strong products liability litigation practice in the US and internationally,” commented Chadbourne managing partner Andrew Giaccia. “We wish the tobacco team well. They are distinguished lawyers and good colleagues. We are grateful for the many contributions that they have made to the firm.”

The US move is a major element of Herbert Smith’s strategy to internationalise its practice in the wake of the break-up of its three-way European alliance with Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe last year and comes ahead of a planned German launch. Herbert Smith is also attempting to regroup after a period in which it has suffered a number of departures and its profitability has fallen behind some key City rivals.

The City firm took a major step towards bolstering its global footprint in June after agreeing a merger with top tier Australian practice Freehills in a deal that will forge a top 20 global practice in revenue terms.

The official launch of the new firm – Herbert Smith Freehills – will take place on 1 October 2012, at which point the New York office will become part of the Herbert Smith Freehills’ international network.

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