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Ashurst has finally turned its back on a referral relationship with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson as it prepares for a transatlantic alliance with structured finance boutique McKee Nelson.
The move, spearheaded by Ashurst partner Erica Handling and McKee partner Larry Isaacson, will focus entirely on structured finance and will involve joint pitching and joint training, with a view to starting a secondment programme in the medium term.
Isaacson, a Fried Frank partner until he joined McKee Nelson last June, had developed a strong working relationship with Handling over several years, which partly brought about the merger talks between the firms.
Handling told The Lawyer: “US capability is a major issue for a securities practice, and to some extent this has been addressed partially by internal hires, although we won’t be replicating Allen & Overy or Linklaters in that.”
McKee, which has an arm’s-length affiliation with Ernst & Young, regularly tops the US league tables for asset-backed securities. The two firms currently share clients such as JPMorgan Securities, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.