26 Oct 2021

Freshfields boosts US life sciences offering with Arnold & Porter partner duo

Kristen Riemenschneider and Vinita Kailasanath join in Washington DC and Silicon Valley

Kristen Riemenschneider (l) and Vinita Kailasanath Image courtesy of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

UK firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has strengthened its life sciences and technology offering in the US with the addition of two partners from Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer.

Kristen Riemenschneider has joined the firm in Washington DC, while Vinita Kailasanath has moved over to in its Silicon Valley office, which the firm opened last summer after hiring five partners from US rivals Davis Polk, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin and Wilson Sonsini to target the West Coast’s lucrative tech client base.   

The new recruits will work closely with partners Adam Golden, head of US life sciences transactions, and Jennifer Bethlehem, global head of Freshfields’ consumer and healthcare practice, to advise clients on a range of transactional matters from strategic license and collaboration transactions to complex supply chain arrangements.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Kristen and Vinita to our growing life sciences practice,” said New York-based Golden, who joined the firm in May from Hogan Lovells, adding that the firm was committed to strengthening its capabilities at the intersections of life sciences and technology and that the duo “will be tremendous assets to our clients across pharmaceuticals, biotech and, importantly, the growing areas of medtech and digital health”.

Riemenschneider joins the firm after 14 years at Arnold & Porter, prior to which she had a stint as a law clerk as the US Court of Federal Claims and also spent two years as an electrical engineer at Privaris, a Virginia-based startup that primarily produced fingerprint readers and had most of its patents bought by Apple.

As a lawyer, she represents clients on their transactions for life sciences products at all stages of the biopharmaceutical product lifecycle, focusing on strategic license and collaboration transactions. She also advises life sciences companies on the IP principles associated with US government-funded research and development and has represented several vaccine manufacturers in their agreements to develop and deliver Covid-19 vaccines in the US.

Kailasanath, meanwhile, joined Arnold & Porter in 2011 as an associate after a working as a law clerk at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Court and made partner at the start of last year. She advises clients on IP and data-driven transactions involving the development, protection and commercialisation of products and brings particular experience in life sciences, medical device and digital health transactions, including those with an AI/machine learning component.

“Kristen and Vinita are a powerhouse team who strengthen our bench of life sciences attorneys globally,” said Bethlehem. “Their expertise will be of the real value to our clients as they continue to navigate an evolving landscape of technology-backed life sciences innovation and changing government regulation.”

Life sciences is a hot area for lateral hires in the US. Notably, in May Cooley opened in Chicago to tap into the Midwest’s burgeoning venture capital scene and growing tech and life sciences industry, hiring nine new partners to support the launch.

In July, Freshfields posted what it described as ‘strong’ financial results, having seen revenue and profit per equity partner both increase by 5% over the financial year ending 30 April to £1.59bn and to £1.91m, respectively.

The firm’s undoubted strategic highlight during the last financial year was the opening of its Silicon Valley office in the teeth of the Covid-19 pandemic, its third location in the US after New York and Washington DC. Among the five partners recruited for the office was John Fisher, who left Sidley Austin to be Freshfields’ head of US technology and life sciences M&A.

Freshfields chair Edward Braham said at the time that “the impact and strategic importance of technology and life sciences businesses will only continue to grow and advisers who can provide strategic counsel on key domestic issues within a global context will be highly prized.”

The firm has also made strides on the diversity and inclusion front, last September becoming the first Magic Circle firm to appoint a woman – Georgia Dawson – as senior partner. And In April, it easily surpassed its newly set gender diversity target in its partner promotion round with women making up half of the 22-strong tally. That was a marked improvement on 2020 when just four women made the grade, 19% of the cohort of 21.