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West coast-headquartered Gibson Dunn & Crutcher launched a formal international arbitration group this week at a New York cocktail reception attended by recent hire and former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer (pictured).
The firm's newest practice group is aimed at capitalising on the growth of cross-border disputes and picking up clients who in the past may have been deterred by Gibson Dunn's lack of a formal group structure.
Litigation partner John Behrendt told The Lawyer that, while Gibson Dunn's regular clients have usually been happy for the firm's trial lawyers to represent them on arbitrations, new clients would often ask about the size of the firm's arbitration group.
"And our answer was, 'we don't have one', although of course we do it," said Behrendt. "Some clients didn't see it that way, they weren't comfortable with it. And they'd go to our competitors."
Consequently, Gibson Dunn has recently been on a hiring spree to bring in arbitration specialists with a view to formalising its offering to clients.
The new group is jointly headed in New York by former Herbert Smith head of arbitration Larry Shore, who joined Gibson Dunn in February this year, and partner Cy Benson in London.
Gibson Dunn's London disputes practice also features a number of lawyers hired from leading UK firms, including former Clifford Chance partner Philip Rocher.
Lord Falconer, a former commercial barrister with Fountain Court Chambers, joined Gibson Dunn in July as a senior counsel. During his time with the UK Government Lord Falconer served in various capacities, most recently as the first Secretary of State for Justice and as Lord Chancellor.