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Aaron Marcu and Adam Siegel join from the New York office of Covington & Burling while Benito Romano joins from Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
At Covington Marcu was coordinator of the firm's white-collar defence and investigations practice group while Siegel was a partner focused on the representation of clients facing government investigations and related civil litigation. Romano was chair of Willkie Farr's white-collar criminal defence practice group.
Pointing out that the firm already has an arbitration practice in the US, Freshfields chief executive Ted Burke said the litigation launch is partly in response to client demand.
He added: "We've been looking for quite some time to develop a worldwide contentious regulatory practice. We've had several clients advise us to do just that.
"Just as we've developed global capabilities in other practice areas, we thought we should do the same in litigation, especially because we're seeing an increase in cross border, multi-jurisdictional investigations and proceedings."
At Freshfields the three new partners will launch a New York-based complex litigation and white-collar defence and investigations practice. The group's main focus will be on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement and federal criminal investigations.
Burke said the intention is to bolster the group with further hires, adding that in the near term associates from the firm's US arbitration practice would be able to assist the litigation practice.
While a lack of work has seen fellow magic circle firm Clifford Chance suffer a string of lay offs (14 Oct 2008 and defections (2 Dec 2008) in its US litigation practice, Burke said he is confident that Freshfields' new practice will be a success.
"There's no such thing as a sure bet, but of course we wouldn't do this if we didn't think it was going to be successful," he added.
Freshfields now has 20 partners in New York and six in Washington, DC.
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