Freshfields boosts Paris office with London heavyweight.

Freshfields is to boost its corporate practice in Paris by flying in a heavyweight from its London office.

Gavin Darlington, the former head of the corporate department, is to move to Paris on 1 May.

A spokeswoman for the firm says Darlington's move is designed to underline the importance of continental Europe in developing the firm's mergers and acquisitions work.

She says: “His move is in part symbolic. Somebody so senior wanting to move to Paris and develop the practice there is designed to show how important the market is to us.”

However, others in Paris think that the balance between financial and corporate work has been lost at the office, which has an excellent reputation for financial law, and that Darlington is being brought in to redress that balance.

“Both worldwide and within the practice, corporate work has become more profitable than financial work,” explains Jean-Luc Michaud, who heads the finance group in Paris.

Corporate partner Barry O'Brien will take over Darlington's position when he moves.

Freshfields also plans to build on its property work in the capital, taking on Antoine Vignial from French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel.