Freshfields pushes US growth with four-partner team from Wilson Sonsini

Senior risk and crisis management lawyers join in Silicon Valley, Washington DC

Beth George Image courtesy of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has added a team of four risk and crisis management partners from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as it continues to push growth in the US. 

Beth George has joined the UK firm in Silicon Valley alongside Megan Kayo to lead Freshfields’ newly formalised strategic risk and crisis management practice, while Janet Kim and Andrew Dockham have joined in Washington DC. The quartet bring extensive government experience and practice across areas including crisis and regulatory risk management, cybersecurity, investigations and enforcement. 

“Freshfields’ clients continue to face a changing legal and regulatory environment, creating novel challenges in managing legal and regulatory risk, and these four new partners, when combined with our teams in New York, Washington DC and overseas, will be unmatched in their ability to address these challenges for the benefit of our clients,” observed Sarah Solum, Freshfields’ US managing partner. “They offer second-to-none experience and will serve as key resources for our clients navigating legal and reputational risks, from cybersecurity breaches to congressional investigations.”

George’s practice focuses on representing companies in crises, including complex cybersecurity matters and when preparing for and responding to cybersecurity breaches. She also advises clients on internal and government investigations and responses to law enforcement requests for data. George first joined Wilson Sonsini in 2017 to build its cybersecurity practice from the US Department of Defense (DoD), where she was deputy general counsel, and rejoined the firm in 2021 after a stint as the DoD’s acting general counsel. Earlier in her career she also held roles in the White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice, advising officials on oversight, investigations and litigation.

Meantime Kayo spent almost five years at Wilson Sonsini, where she made partner in February, and before that practised at Clyde & Co. She represents clients in regulatory investigations of their data security programs and advises on breach mitigation, governance around data security, risk management and business continuity.

Kim advises companies regarding strategic management of risk, including in regulatory enforcement defence and congressional investigations. She has spent the past 16 months at Wilson Sonsini and has served as both a high-ranking congressional investigator and a lawyer for the Executive Branch, most recently in the White House Counsel’s Office as an associate counsel to President Biden. Earlier in her career she was a litigation associate at O’Melveny & Myers. 

Rounding out the hires is Dockham, who focuses on internal corporate investigations and advising clients on resulting legal and reputational risk. He joined Wilson Sonsini in March last year after 12 years on Capitol Hill conducting complex bipartisan investigations, including as the staff director and chief counsel for the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and represents clients in all aspects of congressional investigations. 

The team’s hire comes hot on the heels of Freshfields adding financial regulatory partner David Sewell and finance partner Damian Ridealgh in New York last week from Perkins Coie and Weil Gotshal & Manges respectively. 

The firm has been picking off talent from US competitors over the past few years as it seeks to build up its presence stateside. Its US push began in earnest in 2019 when it hired rainmaker Ethan Klingsberg from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York along with two other M&A partners and a litigation partner. 

Then, in July 2020, Freshfields shifted its attention to the West Coast’s burgeoning technology sector with the launch of the Silicon Valley office. It added partners from a number of US rivals for the launch including Wilson Sonsini and has subsequently hired more partners from the firm to build out the office, including corporate partner Andrew Hill and executive compensation partner Andrew Gantus last year. And last September it also added antitrust partner Jamillia Ferris from Wilson Sonsini in Washington DC. 

A Wilson Sonsini spokesperson said of the latest departures:“We thank Beth, Janet, Andrew and Megan for their contributions to the firm and our clients, and wish them well.”

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