Freshfields fights to maintain US securities team

Freshfields is battling to keep its prized London-based US securities team intact, following the defection of one associate to Linklaters and the threatened departure of three more.

The firm, which has prided itself on the loyalty of its two-year-old US team in London, led by US partner Tom Joyce, is responding to the crisis by increasing pay scales within the team. It is optimistic that it will be able to persuade at least two associates to stay.

It is understood Peige Loh has already moved to Linklaters. Another, thought to be Brad Gordon, who joined from Shearman & Sterling in New York nearly two years ago, is likely to follow.

Although Freshfields already pays its 11 US securities associates far more than its UK lawyers, it is believed many became restless when they discovered they were being paid widely different amounts.

Freshfields managing partner Ian Terry said he could not comment on the moves but pointed out that the firm had recently recruited US securities partner Sarah Murphy from Cravath Swaine & Moore and that US assistant John Chrisman had just been made up to partner.

Freshfields has benefited from the disarray at Chadbourne & Parke's project finance group by hiring its Washington DC-based projects partner Thomas Hechl. He will open an office there for Freshfields in August staffed by another laterally-hired US projects associate. Chadbournes' project finance department has suffered a string of defections following the resignation of its head Rigdon Boykin in a dispute over strategy.