NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has hired a team of corporate lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, led by prolific dealmaker Ethan Klingsberg, as it seeks to make new inroads in the U.S. mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market.
Klingsberg, whose clients include retailer Lowe's Companies Inc, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc and Google owner Alphabet Inc, will lead Freshfields' U.S. M&A practice, the firm said in a statement on Friday.
Moves of seasoned partners such as Klingsberg, 55, in the M&A legal industry have traditionally been few and far between. However, intensifying competition for top talent has made some law firms more aggressive.
Among the most notable moves, Scott Barshay, one of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP's most prolific dealmakers, left the firm in 2016 to join Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Kirkland & Ellis LLP has made a number of hires from other law firms in recent years.
Cleary is among the law firms that reward their partners primarily based on seniority, rather than business generated, in a compensation system known in the legal industry as "lockstep" designed to avoid disputes over who brought in a client. This has provided an opening to firms such as Freshfields to use more flexible compensation structures as a selling point to recruit.
"Ethan Klingsberg is an excellent M&A lawyer, he is balanced and thoughtful. Clients love him and have been very loyal to him," said Evercore Partners Inc senior managing director Greg Lee, who has worked alongside Klingsberg advising corporate clients, as well as on assignments involving Lee's investment bank.
Following Klingsberg from Cleary to Freshfields are corporate litigation and securities lawyer Meredith Kotler, corporate governance and capital markets lawyer Pamela Marcogliese, and M&A lawyer Paul Tiger.
The hires represent the latest push for Freshfields, which has been primarily a European corporate law firm, to build U.S. market share. In 2014, Freshfields hired M&A lawyer Peter Lyons from Shearman & Sterling and capital markets lawyer Valerie Ford Jacob from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)