Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld offices in Washington, D.C. November 10, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. (Diego M. Radzinschi)
Jasper Helder, the chair of Baker & McKenzie’s Europe, Middle East and Americas international trade practice group, has joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s London office, Akin Gump announced Thursday.
The move comes as companies face growing uncertainty about the future of cross-border commerce in the wake of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential victory.
Thomas McCarthy, leader of Akin Gump’s international trade practice, said that Helder’s hire reflected his group’s interest in transforming from a Washington, D.C.-based practice to one with greater global presence.
“The changes that we’re seeing have just accelerated the need for our services among wide range of clients because of the uncertainty,” McCarthy said.
Helder said that Brexit and Trump’s campaign, which emphasized upending U.S. trade agreements, put trade regulations in global headlines, furthering a trend that has been in motion for several years.
“Trade regulation as a foreign policy tool has been used more and more across the world,” Helder said. “In companies, there’s also a trend that they now recognize that, if you need legal advice on how to navigate all those different polices, just having a German or Dutch lawyer doesn’t cut it anymore.”
Helder will relocate from Baker & McKenzie’s Amsterdam office to Akin Gump’s London office, a move that he called a “Brentry.” Though Brexit threatens to make trade between the U.K. and Europe less seamless, Helder said that “negotiators [in trade deals between the two entities] will find a way to accommodate business interests.” McCarthy said Akin Gump has known of Helder and worked with him on a variety of matters going back 10 years, including one involving United Parcel Service on customs and sanctions issues.
Helder represents European and U.S. clients on export control, sanctions, customs, trade agreements and other trade and regulatory issues. He joined Baker & McKenzie from Bird & Bird in 2010.
It remains unclear exactly how law firms will be affected by a Trump presidency, Brexit and other geopolitical changes. While the outlook for transactional work is murky, leaders at global firms say they’re certain to see an uptick in regulatory work as the rules change, which could also yield more disputes.