Six partners to leave Freshfields this month as part of finance restructuring

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Six finance partners will leave Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer at the end of this month, while two others will be deequitised from the partnership, as the firm completes a restructuring of its global finance practice.

Five of the partners leaving the firm are based in London, while one is based in New York.

In London, they include City aviation finance partner Rob Murphy who is to join CDB Aviation Lease Finance – the aircraft leasing unit of China Development Bank – as general counsel and chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, one New York and one London partner will lose equity partner status in April but remain with the firm.

In addition, two more City finance partner exits are expected for April 2018.

According to its website, Freshfields currently has 35 finance partners in London and nearly 90 worldwide.

The news comes after Legal Week revealed in March that the firm had pulled out of aviation finance, with five associates from Murphy’s team joining Holland & Knight’s London office, and that several finance partners had been asked to leave the firm by the end of the 2016-17 financial year.

Freshfields is refocusing its finance practice on a narrower range of products following a structural review last year, which came as part of a push to boost profitability at the firm.

Other exits from the firm’s finance practice over the last year include Jeffrey Rubinoff who joined White & Case as a partner in London, real estate finance partner Jonathan Birks who joined Kirkland & Ellis in London and leveraged finance partner Ian Frost who joined Vinson & Elkins.

Legal Week reported last year that Freshfields had moved a number of partners in London to its second tier lockstep, with a small number in the finance practice understood to have been affected.

Freshfields’ magic circle rival Linklaters has also undertaken a recent restructure of its finance practice with exits expected from the firm in the next month.