Ashurst picks up Herbert Smith partners to bolster financial services

Herbert Smith corporate insurance duo Adam Levitt and Hammad Akhtar have quit the firm to join Ashurst.

Levitt, who focuses on insurance and banks, and Akhtar, an insurance, reinsurance and retail banking specialist, both join Ashurst in a relatively rare move by the City firm to hire a rival firm’s partner in London.

Last week the firm announced the hire of UBS litigation head David Capps (25 April 2012) and earlier last month it recruited Linklaters managing associate Nicholas Moore, with both joining as partners.

However Ashurst has not made any lateral partner hires in London from other firms since scooping City-based Luxembourg specialist Isabelle Lentz from Oostvogels Pfister Feyten (now OPF Partners) last June. Meanwhile, a string of partners left Ashurst last year.

Herbert Smith has suffered a few of its own partner departures, with capital markets duo Jim Wickenden and Adam Wells leaving last year for Allen & Overy (4 October 2011), while a number of partners have left the firm in the Far East. The firm recently announced a redundancy programme aimed at cutting 51 jobs, including 23 in its corporate team (30 April 2012).

Ashurst financial institutions head James Perry said in a statement: “Adam and Hammad will play a key role in extending and increasing the resource of our corporate offering to clients in the sector. In particular their expertise in the life assurance sector will be a great addition to the group.”