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Mayer Brown, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Arnold & Porter were the most active recruiters of lateral partners among US law firms in London last year.

Legal Week research has found that Orrick picked up seven new partners – with the most significant haul of five partners coming from collapsed firm Heller Ehrman, including venture law group partners Richard Eaton, Chris Grew and Struan Penwarden.

Arnold & Porter, meanwhile, added five new partners in the City, including corporate partner Carl Liederman from Winston & Strawn and Henry Clinton-Davis from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr.

The hiring represents a significant increase for both firms in London after Arnold & Porter made only two lateral partner hires in total over the previous four years in London, while Orrick did not make a single lateral hire in London during either 2006 or 2007.

London office head at Arnold & Porter, Tim Frazer, commented: “Last year we took a more strategic approach and decided that we need to strengthen and deepen our existing practice areas as well as move into new ones in order to reach a critical mass.

“This is a programme that will continue throughout 2009 but it is important we look for people with the right cultural fit and business, rather than grabbing the low-hanging fruit.”

The survey of partner-level hiring trends of 33 top US and transatlantic firms shows that of the 79 hires that were made in 2008, just under half came from only six firms – Arnold & Porter, Baker & McKenzie, K&L Gates, Mayer Brown and Orrick. Senior moves from the magic circle were few and far between with many of the most high-profile hires moving between US firms – such as Peter King’s move from Shearman & Sterling to Weil Gotshal & Manges.

US firms making lateral partner hires in London

Who’s hiring 2008 (07)

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