Freshfields secures Travers Smith’s head of environment in ESG drive

Arrival of Doug Bryden in London follows 2022 hire of academic as head of client sustainability and environment
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has added a partner from Travers Smith to its ESG and sustainability practice as part of what the firm dubs a drive to invest in core areas. 

Doug Bryden has joined the Magic Circle firm after just over 13 years at Travers, where he served as head of environment and operational regulatory, and as co-head of its ESG and impact group. His practice focuses on ESG and regulatory issues, with a focus on helping boards and investors with ESG and governance strategies, navigating ESG transparency, obligations and responding to ESG crisis events.

Freshfields’ London transactions head, Andrew Hutchings, said Bryden’s appointment was part of a wider strategic focus on investing in core areas, including private capital. 

“He will enhance our existing ESG and environmental practice, where clients increasingly require support on navigating ESG investment strategies and frameworks,” Hutchings added. 

Bryden’s sector expertise covers energy, petrochemical, manufacturing, consumer products and technology, advising asset managers and owners on EU and UK sustainable finance regimes and ESG risks. Freshfields said he would work closely with the firm’s global sustainability group to enhance its global ESG offering.

Freshfields global partner for client sustainability Tim Wilkins commented: “With legislation advancing around the world designed to support net zero targets, and investors assessing ESG risk and pushing for more transparency, Doug increases our strong bench of advisors with decades of experience on sustainability solutions that are innovative and commercial.”

Bryden’s move to Freshfields’ London office follows the firm hiring Cambridge academic Jake Reynolds last year as head of client sustainability and environment, with a mandate to support the firm as it provides legal advice for clients as it transitions towards more sustainable operating models.

A Travers spokesperson said of Bryden’s departure: “We wish Doug all the best in his new role.”

His move follows a series of partner departures from Travers’ London office earlier this year for UK and US rivals, including former M&A tax lead Jessica Kemp signing up with White & Case and funds duo Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond joining Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

The firm, which maintained its profit per equity partner at £1.1m against a 1% increase in turnover to £197.5m in the year to 30 June, also saw senior partner Kathleen Russ step down ahead of schedule in the summer for personal reasons. The firm is due to elect a new senior partner this autumn.

A successor to Russ, who has remained at the firm as a consultant focusing on areas including ESG and D&I, will be chosen later this autumn. 

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