Davis Polk & what next?

Davis Polk & Wardwell was once compared to Skadden: a powerhouse in the US, sleepy in London. But then it smelt the coffee and launched an English Law capability in the City with the hire of Freshfields capital markets partner Simon Witty. What of it since?

The office certainly isn’t picking up dust. Having hired former Freshfields tax partner Jonathan Cooklin, Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate partner Will Pearce and, yesterday, Ashurst finance partner Nick Benham, it is now going full speed ahead to grow its own talent.

The City is taking on its first cohort of six trainees next September, paying newly qualified lawyers a salary of £100,000 – a figure that no doubt tickled the interest of any university students tired of the free biros.

“The firm is changing strategy in London,” says one recruiter. “It’s investing in paralegals and junior lawyers rather than just [laterals].”

Having been the odd one out in its peer group in London for a long time, Davis Polk is wasting no time hoovering up the best. It might chuck a free canvas bag in there, too.

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