Cooley hires Jenner & Block’s global arbitration practice chair in London

Charlie Lightfoot’s arrival underscores Cooley’s growing arbitration ambitions

Charlie Lightfoot, Cooley’s new international arbitration chair Photo courtesy of Cooley

Cooley has hired disputes heavyweight Charlie Lightfoot from Jenner & Block in London as the firm seeks to advance its arbitration agenda.

Lightfoot joins as global chair of the firm’s international arbitration practice, taking up the same role he previously held at Jenner. The move shifts the centre of Cooley’s international arbitration practice from New York to London, with the firm’s former head of international arbitration, Mark Beckett, stepping down in August 2020 to become a sole principal at his own firm.

Lightfoot brings nearly 25 years of London market experience advising on complex and high-value international disputes, representing clients in commercial and investor-state arbitrations, as well as in litigation in the English courts, across the defence, aerospace, energy and infrastructure sectors, including clients in the renewable energy sector.

“Charlie is a go-to adviser for clients with critical international disputes – he has a stellar track record of success as an advocate and a world class network,” said Mike Attanasio, chair of Cooley’s global litigation department.

He exits Jenner eight years after joining in September 2015 from White & Case, where he was that firm’s London litigation and arbitration head.

The move to Jenner ended a 16-year relationship with White & Case, having made partner five years earlier in 2010, and was part of a sequence of moves that saw it build an extensive City practice alongside fellow White & Case alumnus Jason Yardley, and former Dechert partner, Christian Tuddenham.

Cooley will hope that Lightfoot can repeat the same experience for them, with James Maton, head of Cooley’s London business litigation practice saying Lightfoot’s “experience and reputation are outstanding, and he is a fantastic addition to our growing litigation team in London”.

Lightfoot’s investor-led background – especially in ISDS claims – is a critical growth sector for Cooley, and supplements the New York offering with Lightfoot’s proven experience. Growth, said Lightfoot, was the reason for the move, saying: “Cooley’s growth story, including in London, has been phenomenal, and its highly collaborative cross-border culture is truly unique.”

He added: “I see huge opportunity ahead for the disputes practice as clients navigate the challenging global economic, regulatory and geopolitical environment.”

A spokesman for Jenner said: “We are grateful to Charlie for his contributions to the firm. He is a highly valued colleague and friend, and we wish him all the best for his next chapter.”

Jenner welcomed highly regarded arbitration partner James Rogers from Norton Rose Fulbright in February, alongside Ken Beale from King & Spalding, with Rogers saying he was “privileged to join a firm with such a pedigree for high quality contentious work”.

With Beale working out of Washington DC – having previously worked in London for Boies Schiller and Wilmer Hale – and Rogers working in London, Jenner is well placed to look forward; Rogers thanked Lightfoot for having smoothed his own transition.

Lightfoot’s hire comes as Stewarts appointed Sherina Petit – Rogers’ former London boss at NRF – as incoming head of arbitration. She replaces Philippa Charles, who left in January and now practices solely as an arbitrator at Twenty Essex.

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