Dechert hires leading financial crime lawyer in London from Ropes & Gray

Judith Seddon served as co-head of Ropes’ white collar and government enforcement practice
Headshot of Judith Seddon

Judith Seddon Image courtesy of Dechert

Dechert has added one of the UK’s top financial crime lawyers to its white collar practice in London from Ropes & Gray.

Judith Seddon has joined the US firm after four years at Ropes, where she served as global co-head of its white collar and government enforcement practice, having previously spent almost a decade at UK rival Clifford Chance.

The only partner ranked Band 1 by Chambers for both corporate and individual financial crime, she specialises in advising clients on UK and cross-border investigations into fraud, bribery and corruption. She also acts for global financial institutions on market manipulation and money laundering issues and is experienced in extradition issues and providing compliance advice.

Roger Burlingame, a London-based white collar partner at Dechert, described Seddon as “one of the most respected names in the European investigations market,” adding that her experience “deepens our transatlantic capability and her expertise advising financial institutions, corporations and individuals cements our spot in the UK’s white collar elite".

Dechert’s white collar, compliance and investigations practice has more than 100 lawyers globally. Recent work has included advising Airbus on the roughly €3.6bn settlement of a global corruption investigation with France’s PNF, the UK’s SFO and the DOJ and DOS in the US, as well as investigations work for Walmart’s audit committee, Takata and Huawei.

Gus Black, chair of Dechert’s London management committee, said: “Dechert’s London office continues to attract top-flight laterals, such as restructuring partners Adam Plainer and Kay Morley, and corporate partners Mark Thompson and Sam Whittaker. Judith is an outstanding lawyer who is known for her intellectual rigour and expertise and we welcome her to Dechert.”

Seddon added: “Dechert is a disputes powerhouse on both sides of the Atlantic and I am excited by the opportunity to build on this foundation and strengthen Dechert’s place in the market."

Seddon’s arrival brings the white collar team’s lawyer headcount in London to 25, including 13 partners. She is the fourth senior female partner to have joined Dechert’s white collar team globally in the past few years, following Maria Sit in Hong Kong in 2019 from Davis Polk & Wardwell, Hartley West in San Francisco last September from Kobre & Kim and Clare Putnam Pozos in Philadelphia at the start of this year from the United States Attorneys’ Offices.

Dechert's hire of Seddon comes a few weeks after Squire Patton Boggs added partners Hannah Laming and Wayne Barnes, from disputes firm Peters & Peters and Fulcrum Chambers respectively, to its white collar team in London along with a drector in London and a counsel in Paris as it moved to build its European investigations practice. Laming joined the US firm as head of its European government investigations and white collar team.

The list of other firms shopping for white collar talent lately includes Allen & Overy, which added RPC’s head of civil fraud Andy McGregor last month in a bid to exploit the steep rise in London fraud cases. McGregor moved over to A&O a couple of weeks after Norton Rose Fulbright’s EMEA disputes head Michael Godden joined the firm’s financial services litigation team in London to boost its European finance litigation bench. 

report by FTI Consulting published in September revealed that businesses have been scrambling to brace themselves ahead of an anticipated spike in investigations as regulatory conditions continue to shift in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 80% of the 2,800 surveyed companies said they needed to fundamentally alter their business models in order to restore competitiveness and mitigate risk in the face of a new era of public scrutiny. 


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