The practice will be led by dispute resolution partners Geoff Nicholas in London and Adam Siegel in New York and will involve more than 60 partners in 13 jurisdictions.
Freshfields’ cross-border team will help clients tackle issues including accounting, anti-trust, bribery and corruption, financial reporting, and market manipulation.
Nicholas said that the move was driven by what the firm saw as the increasing prevalence and complexity of multi-jurisdictional regulation.
“It recognises a real trend in risk management for our clients,” he commented. “What clients need in each instance is to know the regulations in that particular jurisdiction but also to call on the ability to handle investigations across jurisdictions.”
He added that the magic circle firm has been offering the service in some sectors “for a number of years” but that this was the first time it was offering a fully joined up practice area.
He said: “I don’t think any other firm has grasped what clients need in this area.”
A Freshfields survey of FTSE 350 general counsel found that a third have seen a rise in the number of significant disputes they have been called upon to defend over the past year, with almost half of these being international disputes.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK’s FSA also both reported a marked increase in requests for assistance to foreign regulators.
Chris Pugh, global head of dispute resolution at the firm, said: “The macroeconomic dynamics of the world have changed and regulatory oversight has moved quickly to keep in step. Compliance and planning for regulatory issues is of the utmost importance for large companies looking to avoid the sharp end of enforcement proceedings.”