Freshfields in turnaround bid with corporate facelift

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has radically overhauled its London corporate group in a tacit admission that the team has lost ground over the past four years.

As first revealed on www. thelawyer.com, the shake-up will see the group restructured along four sector lines instead of the previous seven groups. The new teams are energy and transport; financial institutions; leisure, technology media and telecoms (TMT) and pharmaceuticals; and private equity.

The change is the result of a nine-month practice review that reported in February and has been implemented over the summer.

Senior corporate partners Tim Jones and Mark Rawlinson told The Lawyer that the firm’s mindset, formed in the late 1990s when big-ticket corporate work was readily available, had not changed. “There’s been a tendency to believe things would always be that way,” said Jones. “We realised that we needed a root and branch look at London work.”

The three-pronged aim of the review was to identify the type of work Freshfields should be handling, the clients it wants to act for and the range of projects it should undertake. “It was time to throw the blinkers away,” said Jones.

Each of the four teams is chaired by a partner. Ed Braham leads the private equity group, Tim Jones chairs the leisure, TMT and pharmaceuticals sector, Will Lawes chairs the financial institutions team, and Mark Rawlinson has been placed in charge of energy and transport.

The partners’ roles will include mentoring and co-working with the partners in each of the groups. The global sector group leader roles are unaffected by the new London corporate developments.

Since the introduction of the new structure, Jones claims that corporate revenues in London are up 18 per cent. “We believe that 20 per cent over the next two years is feasible,” he said.

One partner involved with the review said: “Freshfields needs a kickstart. I hope this is it.”