New York firm raids London practices

New York firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has lured a number of lawyers from leading firms in a bid to set up a derivatives practice in London.

The firm, in its first foray outside the US, has hired Freshfields partner James Starkey and Wilde Sapte partners Russell Jacobs and John Walker for the new practice.

The firm is also said to be in negotiations with two Clifford Chance lawyers. According to a source, these talks are “at a sensitive stage.” But neither Clifford Chance nor Cadwalader were able to comment.

Cadwalader plans to focus its London office on derivatives and structured finance projects. It has a long established reputation in this work in the US, and was one of the first firms to set up a derivatives practice in New York – the main Wall Street firms only later following suit.

Partner Edward Murray, of Allen & Overy, which has one of the premier derivatives practices in the city, said of the new operation: “The lawyers who it is hiring are all talented. However, the key to the success of the practice will be who they get from Clifford Chance. If they get the right people, then they would have a very strong practice.”

James Starkey is well known for his work for AIG Financial, while John Walker specialises in derivatives work and Russell Jacobs is a tax expert.