LegalWeek reports this week that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has “taken the M&A crown” from Clifford Chance, advising on more announced deals in the first three quarters of 2012 than Clifford Chance, Skadden or Sullivan & Cromwell. Freshfields has advised on 129 announced deals so far this year, with a value of $205.2 billion.
Just last week, the New York Times took a close look at the reasons behind Freshfields’ current success, particularly in transactional markets that have been depressed since the subprime crisis froze markets five years ago. The key, according to Edward Braham, head of the firm’s corporate practice, has been an international scope and a focus on cross-border transactions. Freshfields has been able to capitalize on its global presence by making connections among partners in its 28 offices, sometimes in unusual ways:
To increase ties between Europe, North America and Asia, Freshfields hosted its own version of speed-dating at partners meetings, where lawyers outlined their areas of expertise to colleagues until a bell signaled them to switch.
In addition to encouraging informal relationships throughout its global network, Freshfields also created formal working groups to accommodate work on cross-border and international transactions. These cross-border groups, composed of about 15 senior lawyers from different countries, are organized around particular practices, such as capital markets and mergers and acquisitions.
If this year’s deal numbers are any indication, the approach appears to have worked. The firm has advised on major cross-border acquisitions by UPS and Anheuser-Busch InBev this year. Freshfields has also had a major hand in the legal work related to the ongoing European debt crisis, advising the Bank of England and the German Finance Ministry. But the firm’s reach extends beyond Europe and North America. According to Braham, “Around one-third of what we’re doing now is connected to emerging markets… That’s where our clients want to be.”
Posted by Emily Fisher