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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired two partners to boost its New York office – within days of magic circle rival Allen & Overy’s appointment of a team of senior US corporate lawyers.Freshfields has hired Tim Little, a structured finance partner from respected New York firm Shearman & Sterling and Mark Spivak, co-head of project finance at Vinson & Elkins.Among A&O’s four partner hires last week were two partners from Texas-based Vinson & Elkins, including its New York office’s head of corporate Eric Shube (Legal Week 12 July 2001).“We are delighted that partners of [their] calibre have decided to join us in the US,” Freshfields senior partner Anthony Salz said.The firm will further boost the 55-lawyer office’s core finance practice, though the firm has so far held back from translating its core M&A practice into US law.Freshfields, which also does arbitration and securities work from New York, is still a long way from building a serious transactional practice in the US.The firm, like arch rival Linklaters, has held back from developing from aggressively hiring senior New York lawyers for fear of damaging relations with potential merger partners.However, the firm’s goal of a top tier US merger appears to be several years off.An email sent round to Freshfields partners by management earlier this year confirmed that a number of US firms had rejected speculative merger approaches made in recent months (Legal Week 22 March).In contrast, Allen & Overy, which has claimed it will build a US practice through lateral hiring, has already began building a US-based M&A practice.

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