Kirkland raids Shearman for London litigation partner

Shearman & Sterling has lost its only London litigation and arbitration partner to Kirkland & Ellis.

Highly-rated Chris Colbridge is joining Kirkland to launch the Chicago firm’s standalone litigation and arbitration practice in London. Kirkland already has partner-level contentious capability in the form of restructuring litigation partner Richard East, but no pure litigation and arbitration expertise.

Chris Colbridge joined Shearman & Sterling as a senior associate from Clifford Chance in 2000, with a mandate to build a contentious practice in London. His departure leaves Shearman with seven litigation associates and one of counsel in London.

Litigation forms one of Kirkland’s four key practice areas, alongside intellectual property, private equity and restructuring. By contrast, litigation has been less central at Shearman & Sterling although the firm is expanding the group to provide a counter-cyclical balance to its powerful finance and capital markets groups.

In hiring Colbridge, Kirkland has become the latest firm to make a splash in London litigation. Latham & Watkins, Bingham McCutcheon and Fulbright & Jaworski have all made significant partner-level lateral hires in litigation in the last 12 months.

According to the AmLaw 100, Kirkland & Ellis last year posted average profit per equity partner of $1.97m, compared with Shearman & Sterling’s $1.15m.