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Alex Bafi had been with Davis Polk since 1993 acting in the credit transactions, capital markets and M&A group.
He joins Herbert Smith's corporate finance group and the firm's growing pool of US lawyers.
The firm has two other US partners: Jim Wickenden and Allen Hanen, both of whom joined Herbert Smith from JP Morgan in March 1999.
Bafi says: "There are already two US lawyers doing a good job for the firm, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to build up something further."
According to Bafi, he has been talking to Herbert Smith for two years and was already acquainted with the other US lawyers as he was seconded to JP Morgan during his time at Davis Polk. Hanen also practised at Davis Polk.
Herbert Smith is focusing on building a US practice as part of its corporate finance practice rather than seeking out a merger partner.
Hanen says: "We don't want to build a practice on Wall Street. There's already a clear relationship with Cravath [Swaine & Moore], and we don't see any reason to do anything differently."
Bafi's specialisms include the high-tech sector. He recently advised on the STMicroelectronics $2.15bn (£1.44bn) convertible note offering, where he acted for Credit Suisse First Boston, Morgan Stanley and UBS Warburg.