Ex-Links energy head joins Akin for City disputes push

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has become the latest US firm to bulk up its ­London ­presence after launching a City disputes practice under former ­Linklaters energy and ­infrastructure disputes head Justin Williams.

Justin Williams

Justin Williams

Williams, who was a counsel at Linklaters, has joined the US firm as a partner.

Akin Gump’s inter-national managing partner Rick Burdick says that a London disputes team is critical for the firm’s international growth.

“We see international arbitration matters becoming more important in our global network,”

he says. “This group is very much connected to our global energy practice.

“Big cross-border M&A deals over the past 10 years have generated arbitration. In our view having a ­litigation team and an ­arbitration function in ­London is something that there’s a real appetite for.”

For Williams, Akin Gump presents an exciting opportunity to build a team from scratch.

Hiring a team of associates is just the start Akin Gump will continue to recruit into its new team in the City.

“This is a challenge,” says Williams. “It’s somewhat of a green field for Akin Gump in London, so it’s a great opportunity to build something new.”

Akin Gump is clearly ­serious about bulking up in the litigation arena, and has also added five ­litigation partners to its Washington DC office and one to San Francisco.

However, the firm is not alone in wanting to establish a disputes base in London. At the beginning of this year fellow US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton relocated New York-based partner Jon Blackman to London. Blackman’s move brought the number of ­partners in the firm’s ­London disputes team to four.