Fenwick & West is opening a Washington office and adding two regulatory team partners there as it plots a growth path in antitrust and trade regulation.
Freshfields Bruckhaus & Deringer’s Thomas Ensign and Dechert’s Melissa Duffy are joining Fenwick. Steve Albertson, a former counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, who jumped to Fenwick earlier this month, will join the two new recruits as a D.C. partner.
“We currently represent many of the most significant tech and life sciences companies that there are in the world,” Fenwick chair Richard Dickson said. “Their needs are definitely broad” in antitrust and trade.
Fenwick is opening the office, its sixth U.S. location, after growth in recent years in the mergers and acquisitions practice, and more broadly in the corporate group. Additional work in patent litigation is also driving the need for increased depth in antitrust.
The firm hasn’t yet chosen a headcount or space for its new Washington outpost, Dickson said. It anticipates adding more lawyers in the antitrust and trade regulation space, however, and there may also be opportunities in life sciences and technology, he said.
“It really became first oriented around, ‘Hey we need more capacity and greater breadth and depth,’” Dickson said. “Then the question is where do you find the talent for those areas, and an awful lot of that talent exists in Washington.”
Ensign works with technology and life sciences clients, including intellectual property agreements, distribution arrangements, joint ventures and other competitor collaborations. He also handles pre-merger notification requirements in U.S. and international jurisdictions.
He “will help us build out practice in a meaningful way” after working as an antitrust practice partner during his roughly 19-year tenure at Freshfields in Washington, Dickson said.
Duffy, who joined Dechert in 2018 after nearly 12 years at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, focused on international trade matters, specifically those related to trade controls and national security requirements for cross-border transactions.
She advises on export controls, sanctions, trade policy, programs under the Office of Foreign Assets Control, regulation of emerging technologies, digital trade, and CFIUS. She also handles national security issues involving U.S. agencies as well as internal investigations and compliance matters involving civil and criminal aspects.
“She’s going to broaden the number of things we can do for our clients,” Dickson said of Duffy.
Fenwick is working with its three new partners in Washington to identify the right space, even as most of its staff and attorneys are predominantly working from home because of the pandemic, Dickson said.
“It’s a unique time and a unique circumstance and that has made it not necessary to secure the space first,” he said. “In some ways we’ve been able to focus on what’s most important — people first.”