Sidley Austin is formally launching a London dispute resolution practice three years after it first launched a contentious team in the City.
In 2006 Sidley raided Kendall Freeman (now Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge) for former barrister Dorothy Cory-Wright to head its contentious insurance litigation practice in London (The Lawyer, 27 November 2006).
Cory-Wright will continue to run the enlarged dispute resolution practice, which is being launched to capitalise on the growing number of disputes emanating from the economic downturn.
“This is the first time Sidley’s had a standalone dispute resolution practice in London,” says Cory-Wright. “The original group was set up to handle reinsurance and insurance disputes. Clearly the economic circumstances mean there’s a raft of general commercial litigation, particularly financial services- related litigation.
“Also, Sidley’s existing client base has allowed us to leverage work in an increasingly wide number of areas in litigation and arbitration.”
Financial services will make up the majority of the new group’s instructions, but Sidley will also act for a wider range of clients.
Recent high-profile cases include advising the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile on the Formula 1 race-fixing investigation.
Sidley’s London disputes team currently has 15 lawyers, but Cory-Wright is already planning to expand the group.
“We’ve already expanded quite significantly over the past two years,” she says. “We’re very hopeful the partner count will expand in 2010.”
Around half of Sidley’s 1,700 lawyers worldwide are involved in dispute resolution.
Chair of the firm’s management committee Charles Douglas says: “With the expansion of cross-border disputes and the increasing requests from our clients to serve the entire range of their legal needs, the firm has long planned to establish a dispute resolution practice in London. Dorothy and her colleagues will serve our clients well in resolving those types of disputes.”