Freshfields poaches Linklaters associate

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has made a rare raid on Linklaters in a bid to boost its banking department. The firm is hiring banking and restructuring associate Chris Howard, who will be the first ever associate hire into partnership in London.

Although it is the fourth biggest in the City with a global turnover of £152m, Freshfields’ finance group has lagged behind its magic circle rivals on bank mandates. However, the hire of Howard represents a renewed energy to make up ground.

The firm brought in management consultancy McKinsey & Company last year to advise on the department’s strategy.

According to sources close to the firm, the McKinsey report identified commercial banks rather than investment banks – Freshfields’ usual constituency – as its key areas for growth.

Howard, who had worked closely with Freshfields partner Brian Gray when at Wilde Sapte (now Denton Wilde Sapte), has strong connections with Royal Bank of Scotland and has also worked extensively with other Freshfields banking clients, such as HSBC and National Australia Bank.

Freshfields finance head Simon Hall told The Lawyer: “Chris has presented us with an opportunity to fill a gap in our relationships with [certain] institutions. His background fits very well.”

Linklaters global banking head John Tucker said: “Chris has obviously secured a terrific opportunity and we wish him well.”