Herbert Smith Freehills has long been regarded as one of London’s leading litigation firms – and ferocious litigators at that. However, in the 1990s it made efforts to be seen as more than that, electing a series of senior partners from its corporate practice including Edward Walker-Arnott, a City grandee well known for transactional work, and then Richard Bond. On the corporate side the firm handled a lot of the big demutualisations of huge building societies and worked on the Time Warner deal alongside Cravath, with which it had a referral relationship.
The litigators remain at the top of the tree today, however. Herbert Smith has a big practice acting for banks and has been very evident on the Libor cases and general financial crisis litigation.
The firm had a number of prominent female partners in the 1990s, notably corporate rainmaker Marian Pell and Margaret Mountford of Apprentice fame; however, that hasn’t really translated into a female partnership pipeline.
Herbert Smith launched in Hong Kong early but was very late to the table in Europe, apart from a small Paris office. An alliance with Germany’s Gleiss Lutz and Belgium’s Stibbe began in 2001 and for a long time they tried to brand the firms together – the business cards showed them together and the firms also persuaded the M&A tables to count all their deals together, but it was never close to a verein structure. The alliance came to an end in 2011 after the continental firms rejected Herbert Smith offer of a full merger. After that Herbert Smith pushed on in Europe with a series of raids on firms including Gleiss.
Latham & Watkins stands out in the US legal market for its banking, M&A, private equity, debt capital markets, high-yield capital markets, equity capital markets, project finance and project development practices, making it another contender for the title of most versatile corporate firm in the US.
Skadden is a leading firm in the US for debt capital markets, M&A, structured finance, restructuring and insolvency, financial services regulatory, and also maintains excellent banking, equity capital markets, project finance, project development, hedge funds and private equity practices. A powerhouse corporate firm, anything related to acquisitions is squarely in the firm’s wheelhouse.
Davis Polk’s London team consists of UK and US qualified lawyers covering capital markets, M&A, finance and restructuring transactions. The corporate and finance teams are supported by our London tax, financial regulatory and antitrust lawyers.
Davis Polk’s London office advises companies, financial sponsors and investment banks, as well as public-sector clients, on a variety of corporate finance transactions throughout Europe. The team has a particular focus on cross-border deals with European elements.
Many of the firm’s partners and associates are acknowledged as leaders in their fields, with many of them frequently recognised for innovation and client service.