Freshfields’ Burke quits firm to take up in-house role at private equity house

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer global managing partner Ted Burke is leaving the firm to become general counsel and COO of Boston private equity firm Arclight Capital Partners.

The US-born Burke will step down from the role in the first quarter of 2014, a year earlier than expected. His mandate was due to expire in 2015. 

Burke is the longest-serving managing partner Freshfields has had, having been first elected to the role in 2005 (20 December 2005).

Senior partner Will Lawes has nominated competition partner David Aitman to take over from Burke and Freshfields’ partnership has approved the nomination. Aitman is currently the senior elected member of the firm’s governing body, the Partnership Council, and also co-chairs the partnership recommendation committee.

In a statement announcing Burke’s departure Freshfields said Burke had been planning to return to his home country for some time, but had decided to bring the move forward due to the opportunity at Arclight. The private equity house is a longstanding Freshfields client. 

Burke told The Lawyer: “I’ve had a fantastic time at Freshfields and I’ve genuinely appreciated how patient and generous the firm’s been. It’s been a privilege to be in that role but it’s time for me to go home. It’s a fantastic opportunity and it’s too good to pass up.”

In a statement, Lawes added: “The firm owes much of its recent success to Ted’s strategic guidance and courageous leadership. In David Aitman we have a hugely respected and wise partner, with a deep understanding of our business and culture. I’m looking forward to working even more closely with him as we implement our strategy.”

Aitman said: “Ted leaves the firm in excellent shape, yet these are jobs that are never done as new challenges and opportunities are constantly arising. I’m very excited at the chance to implement the strategy that I helped Ted and Will develop as a member of our Partnership Council and am particularly keen to ensure we harness the many individual talents in our firm in driving our business forward.”