Hughes Hubbard & Reed has lost the chair of its international trade practice, along with a second partner, as Dechert is making a push in the red-hot area.
F. Amanda DeBusk started on Monday as the new chair of Dechert’s global trade practice. She is joined in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office by Melissa Duffy, who was DeBusk’s first hire when she started at Hughes Hubbard 13 years ago.
“International trade is one of the hottest practices, at least in Washington, D.C., at the moment, and Dechert indicated to me that they are looking for growth in the area,” DeBusk said. “One of the opportunities they could provide was to head up the wonderful international trade practice they had. That was extremely attractive to me, and that’s why I came here.”
The existing leaders of Dechert’s international trade practice, co-chairs Jeremy Zucker in Washington and Miriam Gonzalez in London, will retain their titles.
“All our partners have global practices covering international trade issues cross-border. From a strategic point of view, Amanda is global chair of international trade, and Jeremy and Miriam are co-chairs who focus on U.S. and EU markets, respectively,” a Dechert spokesperson said.
“They’ve been very supportive of this,” Matthew Larrabee, chair of the firm’s global litigation practice group, said of the existing co-chairs. “We’re going to have a much more diversified and deeper practice.”
DeBusk’s practice focuses on the enforcement of export controls and trade compliance, areas that are particularly relevant as questions swirl over the future of an Iran nuclear deal and sanctions involving Russia and other countries.
“Helping companies comply with all these really complex regulations is something that we specialize in, and it’s really hard for companies to do compliance in this area, because EU sanctions are different from U.S. sanctions, which are different from those from Asia,” she said. “What we do is pull the pieces together to help international companies comply.”
Before her time at Hughes Hubbard, DeBusk was the U.S. Commerce Department assistant secretary for export enforcement. That office is currently responsible for implementing the recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports—another source of uncertainty in the current trade environment.
Duffy briefly worked in the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission before her time at Hughes Hubbard. She also focuses on export controls, sanctions and other trade issues arising out of national security concerns.
“I’ve only been a partner for a few years, but I’m excited about being at a global firm with a well-rounded platform,” she said. “I think that Dechert’s range of offices around the world will be a wonderful support.”
Larrabee said the firm aims to keep growing the practice, given the market environment and political developments fueling continuing uncertainty among clients.
“We’re going to pause and take a breath, but this is a practice that, if you look at the world’s most successful international law firms, can be diversified and grown from here,” he said.
Dechert added seven lateral hires in Asia, five in London and seven in New York in 2017, and policy committee chair Andrew Levander said earlier this year that it is looking to grow in London, New York, Chicago and on the West Coast.