Cleary picks up Herbert Smith Freehills litigation partner in rare City hire for US firm

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) London litigation partner James Norris-Jones is moving to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in a rare hire for the US firm’s City office.

Norris-Jones, who featured in Legal Week’s litigation Rising Stars feature last year, was promoted to partner at HSF in 2012.

He has been part of the team advising RBS as it defends a class action by shareholder and investor groups relating to the bank’s 2008 rights issue.

Earlier this year, the firm was criticised for its legal costs on the long-running case, which are expected to hit about £100m.

Norris-Jones (pictured) has been one of the RBS client relationship partners at HSF, advising the bank on several other matters including a series of claims brought by the failed Icelandic banks Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki.

Cleary managing partner Michael Gerstenzang said:  “James will add to our already formidable depth and breadth of talent in this important area of our international practice.”

His addition means the firm will have six partners in its London litigation and arbitration practice.

The move represents a rare lateral hire for Cleary’s City base, with the firm generally preferring to promote lawyers to partner from within, rather than pick up laterals.

However, last year it hired Allen & Overy’s head of non-contentious financial services regulation Bob Penn. Four years prior to that, the firm hired former Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sunil Gadhia.

HSF said: ”We can confirm that James Norris-Jones is retiring from the partnership. We thank him for his contribution to the firm and wish him well for the future.”

Norris-Jones added: “I have had a fantastic 16 years at HSF and had the opportunity to work on some landmark cases and make good friends and colleagues. It is now time for a change and a new challenge, but I wish the firm every success in the future.”