Businesshala News Exclusive | Freshfields Poaches Top Deal Lawyer From Cravath

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Damien Zubeck is the latest high-profile lawyer to switch firms amid talent war

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Mr. Zaubeck is the latest big hire from a US law firm by Freshfields, one of the UK’s “Magic Circle” firms. Mr Klingsberg himself joined a few other partners after leaving Clary Gottlieb Stein & Hamilton LLP in 2019.

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Freshfields is making a push to grow in the US in January, installing Alan Mason as global managing partner and opening a practice in Silicon Valley last year.

Mr. Zaubeck has been a partner in Cravath since 2007. Recent deals he’s worked on include Afterpay Ltd.

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$29 billion sale to Square Inc., Canadian National Railway Co.

Nearly $30 Billion Failed Bid for Kansas City Southern and Amerisource Bergen of the corporation

$6.5 billion acquisition of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. NS

Pharmacy Wholesale Unit.

Mr Zaubeck said he was drawn to Freshfield’s global presence and established practices in areas such as antitrust and foreign investment regulations. “Deals are happening at the multinational level, so there is no point in looking at the lens through one country anymore,” he said.

The firm has played roles on deals including the recent $5 billion sale of Verizon‘s

Media assets to Apollo Global Management Inc.,

Universal Music Group NV split from Vivendi SE and poultry producer Sanderson Farms Inc. a $4.5 billion take-private.

While M&A bankers often move around during their careers, it used to be rare for deal lawyers to do so. That has changed over the past several years, with the world’s largest law firms underscoring the value on deal fees amid the global M&A boom.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has also been an aggressive hunting partner for other firms, including Cravath, and last year hired Edward Lee from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Earlier this year, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP hired Krishna Veeraraghavan from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Scott Barshey made waves in 2016 when the star deal maker left Cravath to lead a mergers and acquisitions exercise at Paul Weiss.

Those moves have brought center stage a debate over whether the seniority-based “lockstep” pay system employed by some top firms can compete as others increasingly equate compensation closer to performance.

Cravath is one of a handful of firms that use a lockstep system. Firms such as Freshfields, Kirkland and Paul Weiss have built in greater flexibility to reward top performers more.

Cara Lombardo at [email protected]


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