Nicholson will take over from Dame Juliet Wheldon as chief legal adviser and adviser to the governor of the Bank of England at the start of next year. Wheldon was head of the government legal service before joining the Bank of England in 2006.
Freshfields joint senior partner Guy Morton said: "Graham has made an exceptional contribution to the firm over many years, both in terms of client work and firm management. We thank him for his tireless efforts and are delighted that he has now been appointed to this very important role."
The Bank of England is a long-standing client of Freshfields, with the firm advising the bank on the nationalisation of troubled bank Bradford & Bingley (The Lawyer, 29 September). Nicholson is one of the partners instructed on the deal.
Nicholson has spent his entire 37-year career at the firm, making partner in 1980 and becoming managing partner of Freshfields between 1990 and 1993. His other clients include Rolls Royce and the London Stock Exchange.