Texas firm Andrews Kurth raids Chadbourne for City arbitration trio

Texas firm Andrews Kurth, one of the latest US oil and gas players to have targeted the UK market, has raided Chadbourne & Parke for a three-person arbitration team in London.

Chadbourne arbitration partner Melanie Willems is to join the firm as international arbitration head, bringing with her Chadbourne senior associate Markus Esly,  who joins as partner, and associate Robert Blackett. The official start-date for the trio will be September 30, pending regulatory approval.

The hires come weeks after the firm poached former Premier Oil corporate counsel Jubilee Easo, a former senior associate at Ashurst, for its London office. She became the second London-based partner at the firm after former Ashurst partner Peter Roberts, the first English law partner at the firm, joined as office head in May.

Chadbourne hired Willems and a team of four disputes lawyers from Howrey’s London office in 2010 (8 March 2010). Former Lovells partner Willems, who was head of international arbitration at Howreys, focuses on dispute resolution across engineering, energy, construction and transport markets.

Andrews Kurth has had a representative office in London for a decade, however the hire of Roberts earlier this year marked the firm’s first English law partner (16 May 2013). Roberts was previously general counsel at Centrica Energy (24 September 2007), a partner at Jones Day and a partner at legacy Denton Hall. 

In recent months the UK’s energy market has become one of the most active sectors. In January another Texas firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, relaunched its London office with the hire of Simmons & Simmons energy specialist Julian Nichol as office managing partner (15 January 2013). The move was shortly followed by the hire of Herbert Smith Freehills partner Jason Fox (5 March 2013).

The London office of Andrews Kurth now has four partners, counting Willems and Esly.

A spokesperson from Chadbourne wished the departing team well, adding that there were no immediate replacements.