10 Jan 2022

Dentons practice heads depart to forge new Paris arbitration boutique

Global giant names successors to Barton Legum and Jean-Christophe Honlet, who have launched new firm with a team of associates

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Barton Legum and Jean-Christophe Honlet have left Dentons to set up their own independent boutique, Honlet Legum Arbitration, in Paris.

The duo held senior leadership positions at Dentons with Legum, a partner for thirteen years, serving as global co-chair of the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice. Honlet, meanwhile, was head of international arbitration having been a partner for nine years, prior to which he was a partner at legacy firm Salans for almost two decades.  

Legum has worked for the US State Department, acting as lead counsel for the US Government in defending the first arbitrations brought under the now-superseded NAFTA agreement, and is a former chair of the American Bar Association’s influential Section on International Law.

The duo have set up the firm with two associates, two interns and a paralegal and said it would concentrate exclusively on international arbitration, both commercially-focused and investor-state disputes, as well as practices as arbitrators.

The boutiques’ structure, they said, ‘will allow the firm to take on appointments that its partners would have had to turn down at their prior firm because of conflicts of interest.’

The announcement was well received by the international arbitration community, with LinkedIn congratulations from their peers at leading law firms including LCIA chairman Audley Sheppard QC and Michael Ostrove, co-head of international arbitration at DLA Piper.

The new boutique is one of a number to be established in Paris over the past few years, including Gailliard Banifatemi Shelbaya Disputes, which was launched last February by renowned arbitration lawyer Emmanuel Gaillard along with seven other partners drawn from Shearman & Sterling. Another was ADR disputes, which was set up by former Linklaters partner Pierre Duprey last January, while Medici Law Firm, an all-female, four-partner firm which was launched in September 2020.

Potential conflicts of interest played a part in the decision to launch all these firms, just as they did with arbitral powerhouse Three Crowns, which was formed by partners from Freshfields, Jones Day and White & Case in 2014. One of Three Crowns’ founding partners, Gaetan Verhoosel, was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in the 2022 appointments round.

In response, Dentons appointed Paris-based partner Anna Crevon-Tarassova and Singapore-based partner Lawrence Teh as global co-heads of the firm’s international arbitration practice. Both are experienced practitioners, with Crevon-Tarassova having worked closely with the departing duo.

Teh is known for his disputes work at Dentons Rodyk, as well as a having a strong arbitrator practice himself. He said: “Anna and I look forward to working with our colleagues around the world to build on our global reach and develop the practice [further].”

That move was welcomed by Legum, who said: “I have no doubt that Anna and Lawrence will lead the fabulous Dentons arbitration team to even greater successes”.

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