London-founded Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is continuing its fast-paced expansion in the U.S. with the addition of Hogan Lovells antitrust partner Meghan Rissmiller in Washington.
It’s been around a year since the firm signaled big ambitions stateside by hiring a four-lawyer team from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton that included rainmaker Ethan Klingsberg in New York, who now runs Freshfields’ U.S. M&A and corporate practice.
In July, the firm added Willkie Farr & Gallagher business and corporate litigation practice group chair Mary Eaton as the co-head of its securities and shareholder litigation practice in New York and picked up former Justice Department antitrust trial lawyer Julie Elmer as a partner in Washington. Freshfields also opened an office in Silicon Valley with five lawyers recruited from across Davis Polk & Wardwell, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Sidley Austin, and Latham & Watkins.
This investment in strategic growth in the U.S. was one of the main reasons Rissmiller decided to make the jump to Freshfields, she said, coupled with the scope and reach of its antitrust practice and the pace of the firm’s M&A activity.
The firm came in fourth in the M&A legal league tables in deal amount by principal advisor in the third quarter, advising on $176.3 billion in deals over the last nine months, according to Bloomberg data.
“It’s just been tremendous in an overall down year for corporate deal activity,” Rissmiller said.
Rissmiller joined Hogan Lovells in 2009, following a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She became partner in its antitrust, competition, and economic regulation practice in 2017.
Rissmiller’s practice focuses on merger clearance of transactions and representing clients before the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
She was a part of the team that advised Amcor plc in its $6.8 billion acquisition of Bemis Company Inc. as well as BASF in its $2.7 billion water and paper chemicals transaction with Solenis. She also represented Change Healthcare in obtaining antitrust clearance from the Justice Department for its $3.4 billion joint venture with McKesson Technology Solutions.
Eyes on Antitrust
Freshfields’ global reach will allow for international coordination as clients face regulators across borders that focus more and more on antitrust, Rissmiller said.
“Antitrust has 100% been at the top of mind for businesses and honestly, regardless of what happens with the election in November, I would anticipate continued scrutiny of businesses both on their transactions as well as in their activities,” she said.
Freshfields’ antitrust practice began with a focus on agency facing efforts, M&A defense, and agency defense investigations and has been built out incrementally over the years to include more antitrust litigation, said Paul Yde, a former senior lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission and a partner in Freshfields’ antitrust practice.
“We see antitrust having more visibility today than it’s had in all the years of my practice and it’s one of the reasons that we’re always on the lookout and have been increasingly on the lookout for stars that we can bring into the practice, like [Rissmiller],” he said citing Freshfields’ M&A growth in Silicon Valley and New York as another driver.
Amid its U.S. expansion, the firm last month named Georgia Dawson as its new leader, the first woman to hold such a role at a Magic Circle firm.
Rissmiller said that Dawson and her management team have “articulated a compelling vision for the future of Freshfields,” including its U.S. expansion efforts and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“It’s tremendous and I’m really excited to join the team and be a part of this movement,” said Rissmiller, who co-led Hogan Lovells’ African-American attorney affinity network.
Hogan Lovells did not respond to request for comment on Rissmiller’s move to Freshfields.