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January 22, 2009 8:58 AM

Freshfields Launches US Litigation Group with Three Partner Hire

Posted by Richard Lloyd

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finally has added a crucial missing piece to its U.S. practice. The Magic CIrcle firm has hired three partners in New York--Aaron Marcu and Adam Siegel from Covington & Burling and Benito Romano from the white-collar criminal defense group at Willkie Farr & Gallagher--to launch a U.S. litigation practice. The trio, who officially join on January 26, will form the base of a new complex litigation and white-collar defense and investigations practice.

All come with impressive resumes in public and private practice. Marcu has been a partner at Covington since 1989 and was head of the firm's white-collar defense and investigations group. Before that he served for six years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York where he worked alongside Romano. The Willkie lawyer also moved into private practice in 1989. Siegel's career has followed a similar trajectory. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York from 1999 to 2005 before rejoining Covington as a partner (Siegel had been an associate at the firm before moving to the Southern District).

"We are thrilled that litigators of this quality have elected to join us and build our U.S. litigation group," says Freshfields chief executive Ted Burke. "[This] gets us off to a great start on building a top international, complex litigation practice."

Freshfields has had U.S.-qualified lawyers in New York and Washington, D.C., since 1998, the year Burke and three other partners joined from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. Since then, the focus in the U.S. has been on corporate and securities, tax, antitrust and international arbitration. The firm has been on the lookout for U.S. litigators for several years; the talks with Marcu, Romano, and Siegel started over a year ago.

Filling an obvious gap in the firm's practice is both a response to client demand for trans-Atlantic litigation capability but also a reflection of the growing international nature of white-collar crime and corporate investigations. Last week, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom made its own move in response to this trend by moving a white-collar partner from D.C. to London.

Of the Magic Circle firms in New York--the group includes Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, and Linklaters--Freshfields was the only one without a U.S. litigation practice.

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