Mark Liscio, center, Madlyn Primoff, right, and Scott Talmadge, left. (Photo: Wendy Barrows)
Those joining the Magic Circle firm include Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s U.S. bankruptcy and restructuring co-chair Mark Liscio and partners Madlyn Primoff and Scott Talmadge. The trio have worked together for more than a decade at legacy shop Kaye Scholer, a New York-based firm that they joined in 2005 from Clifford Chance.
Kaye Scholer merged with Arnold & Porter on Jan. 1, creating a roughly 1,000-lawyer firm with combined gross revenues of about $1 billion. Freshfields’ three new partners handle a mix of contentious and noncontentious restructuring work, and have advised clients like Barclays plc, HSBC Holdings plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in recent cases involving bankrupt companies like Arch Coal Inc. and Paragon Offshore plc.
“This was a hole in our offering—we’d been wanting to add a U.S. restructuring group for about three years,” said Freshfields’ global head of restructuring Ken Baird. “We were seeing situations where clients were using a big U.S. firm in addition to us because they needed that U.S. piece. By bolting on this team we are able to present a truly global offering to clients across the restructuring spectrum that no other firm can match.”
The new recruits by Freshfields are the latest in a string of additions to its U.S. offering in recent years. While Magic Circle firms have historically had a hard time breaking into the U.S. market, particularly in New York, Freshfields’ U.S. practice had more than doubled in size during the past 10 years and now counts nearly 200 lawyers, with some 10 partners joining in the past three years.
The American Lawyer reported in 2014 on Freshfields hiring U.S. managing partner Peter Lyons from Shearman & Sterling, where he was a top M&A lawyer. Asked about Freshfields’ latest hires, Lyons said that the firm really needed to enhance its U.S. restructuring expertise. “It means that we now cover the bases that we need to have covered in the U.S.—though we will continue to grow the business,” Lyons said.
Other Freshfields hires in recent years include former Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz M&A partner Mitchell Presser and retired Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom banking partner James Douglas, both of whom joined the firm’s New York office in late 2014, along with Valerie Ford Jacob, a former senior partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Last year Freshfields snagged Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft corporate partner Aly El Hamamsy, although earlier this year Goodwin Procter picked up Marshall Fishman, the former leader of Freshfields’ U.S. securities and commercial litigation practice.
Freshfields’ Magic Circle rivals have also been busy of late making moves to increase their U.S. capabilities. Earlier this year, Allen & Overy took on a three-partner finance and securities team from Paul Hastings in New York, while Linklaters boosted its disputes practice by landing Matthew Axelrod, most recently a principal associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
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