Signature signs up former Dechert arbitration partner in Paris

Philip Dunham was a member of the 13-strong arbitration team which quit Dechert last month

Prominent international arbitration partner Philip Dunham has joined Signature’s Paris office from Dechert.

Dunham was a senior member of the 13-strong arbitration team that quit Dechert in December in a move the top 40 US firm put down to a strategic shift. 

Former partners Eduardo Silva Romero and José Manuel García Represa are establishing their own boutique, Wordstone Dispute Resolution, which will maintain a referral relationship with Dechert.

While it is expected that the majority of the Dechert team will land at Wordstone, the decision by Dunham, a resident partner for 18 years, to join Signature reflects its ongoing investment in its international arbitration practice. This practice area has grown significantly within the firm, increasing its share of revenues from 13% in 2019 to more than 30% in 2023. 

Dunham’s appointment is a strategic step in the firm’s ambitions in the international arbitration market, bolstered by the 2023 arrival of Paris partner Tsegaye Laurendeau from GBS Disputes. The firm’s ambition is to broaden its international arbitration offerings while maintaining a conflict-free approach, a strategy which Dunham dubbed a “compelling market proposition”.

Signature Paris arbitration partner Flore Poloni said: “We are delighted that Philip is joining us in Paris. His internationally recognised practice and remarkable collaborative intelligence will further strengthen our team as we pursue Signature’s global arbitration growth strategy.”

Founding partner Graham Huntley commented: “The appointment of Philip to our Paris arbitration practice reinforces our commitment to building upon the successes the practice continues to achieve.”

Dunham brings more than three decades of experience in international arbitration, covering various sectors, including commercial and investment treaty arbitrations. His expertise spans multiple international jurisdictions, focusing on the Balkans, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

Dunham is highly regarded for his work in construction and engineering, joint ventures, oil and gas, energy, telecoms and military procurement disputes. He has a notable record of representing clients in high-value global disputes and regularly acts for private and state entities. Dual-qualified in London and Paris, his extensive experience includes handling disputes under all the major arbitral institutional rules.

The firm previously hired Paris litigation partner Jérémie Fierville in April 2023, while the London office welcomed the return of longstanding partner Natalia Chumak to the practice in 2023, alongside Philipp Kurek’s hire from Kirkland & Ellis, also as an international arbitration partner.

The destinations of two other senior former Dechert team members – Claudia Annacker and Enikő Horváth – remain unknown. Annacker joined from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton as a partner in 2020. She was followed, in 2021, by Horváth, who joined Dechert as a national partner.

Signature revenues grew by almost 20% to reach £30m in 2023, following a flat year in 2022.

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