Sidley raids Dewey for M&A-insurance team

The New York office of Dewey Ballantine has suffered a three-partner exodus to Sidley Austin.

Chicago-headquartered Sidley is taking three Dewey partners who are all expert in insurance matters. Jonathan Freedman, Jeff Liebmann and Jonathan Kelly all specialise in M&A within the insurance sector.

Sidley’s insurance practice is well known in the US. With around 60 lawyers based in Chicago and New York, clients include insurance giants AIG and CNA. It also launched an insurance practice in London last summer.

Dewey’s New York office has particularly suffered since the planned merger with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe was called off in January. The office has lost 12 partners since the merger was announced in October 2006.

But of late the firm has been mitigating these losses, undertaking an aggressive hiring spree, particularly in Europe. Ironically, its most recent hire was from Orrick in Beijing.

A Dewey source was sanguine about the Sidley departures. He said: “We’ve added 15 partners in two months and are clearly on a growth spurt. These moves just indicate it’s a fluid market.”