A&O snares Herbies’ newly promoted European litigation chief

Allen & Overy (A&O) has raided Herbert Smith’s Paris office for a three-partner litigation team headed by French dispute resolution chief Denis Chemla.

Chemla joins A&O along with fellow partners Michael Young and Erwan Poisson, who specialise in arbitration and litigation respectively.

The news comes less than a month after Herbert Smith promoted Chemla to the role of head of litigation for Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The hires are a significant coup for A&O and will expand upon the firm’s existing competition and IP litigation expertise in Paris. Chemla and Poisson both act on banking disputes, with Chemla also advising on regulatory and white-collar crime issues.

Young specialises in international arbitration, particularly in the energy, chemicals and natural resources sectors. Young was a partner in Herbert Smith’s London office for three years before relocating to Paris five years ago.

A&O’s global litigation head Tim House said the team added “immeasurably” to the litigation offering for both France and Europe. Previously the firm had no dedicated partners focusing on banking and finance or arbitration in Paris.

He told The Lawyer A&O would be aiming to pick up instructions on disputes from some of the firm’s biggest existing financial institution clients, including French banks like Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole. The expanded team would also seek to advise major French corporates on issues including bribery, corruption, corporate governance and M&A disputes.

The trio’s joining date is yet to be decided. House added that A&O hoped to build up a team of associates around the three new partners.

The appointments continue a busy period for lateral hires in Paris. A&O picked up M&A partner Marc Castagnède from Debevoise & Plimpton in March 2011.

A spokesperson for Herbert Smith said: “We’re disappointed particularly given the strong year our Paris and global disputes practices have otherwise had – both practices have real strength in depth and we have every confidence that they’ll bounce back from this.”