Merchant banks entice City high fliers into their fold

Two top flight City lawyers are leaving their law firms to join merchant banks.

Tim Freshman, corporate partner at Slaughter and May, is moving to Jardine Flemming in Hong Kong.

Mark Harding is leaving Clifford Chance to join UBS, the Swiss banking giant which took over UK broker Phillips & Drew in 1985.

Freshman, 51, is giving up law altogether to become a director with responsibility for management strategy on the board of Jardine Flemming. He has been with Slaughters for 30 years and spent seven years at the firm's Hong Kong office from 1978 to 1985.

“I have always wanted to spend the last leg of my career doing something different,” he said. “Going back to Hong Kong is a tremendous challenge and it presents exciting opportunities. I've got no worries about the Chinese takeover next year.”

Harding, 38, will become a vice-president at UBS where he will oversee all legal and compliance operations. He has been with Clifford Chance for 16 years.

He said: “I think outside concerns are realising that there is considerable value in recruiting the right lawyers for their operations.”

In the past year, a number of partners have left their practices for jobs outside City law firms. Fred Kinmont left Herbert Smith for Hong Kong financial group Peregrine. Jim Watkins left Linklaters & Paines for Trafalgar House.