Skadden secures A&O partner as duo vie for next generation arbitration talent in London

Kate McGill Davies QC is joining Skadden four months after David Herlihy moved the other way

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has responded to the recent loss of a London arbitration partner to Allen & Overy by hiring one of the Magic Circle firm’s rising stars.
Kate McGill Davies QC is joining Skadden four months after investor-state disputes expert David Herlihy moved the other way as both firms seek to grow their highly rated international arbitration teams in a competitive market.
Davies joined A&O from Wilmer Hale as a counsel in 2013, was made a partner in 2016 and became a QC in this year’s silk round. Her skills in commercial arbitration and investor-state dispute settlement dovetail neatly with Skadden's global arbitration practice as well as maintaining its investment in solicitor advocacy, London partner Daniel Gal QC having made silk last year.
Her arrival will not only help compensate for the loss of Herlihy, but also that of former arbitration and disputes co-head Karyl Nairn QC, who retired from the partnership this year.
"Kate's advocacy skills are a perfect fit with our leading practice,” said global co-head of disputes David Kavanagh QC. “Our clients will benefit from her experience of working on complex cross-border disputes, across numerous sectors such as life sciences and TMT. Following the retirement of Karyl Nairn QC early this year, Kate will play a significant role in the continued success of our practice.”
Davies, who was regarded by A&O as among its next generation of arbitral leaders, is the second arbitration partner to leave A&O’s flagship London team this year following the departure last month of business and human rights specialist Suzanne Spears to set up her own boutique.
The firm also lost an experienced Belgian partner last month when Werner Eyskens was signed up by another US rival, Crowell & Moring.
The London team, which is co-led by Mark Levy QC and James Freeman, can, however, point to Herlihy’a high-profile hire as well as the promotion to the partnership this year of Guled Yusuf.
A spokesperson said: "We continue to have a first-class practice in London, with Mark Levy QC and James Freeman and which has been bolstered by the recent hire of David Herlihy from Skadden and the promotion of Guled Yusuf."
A&O has made no secret of wanting to grow its wider disputes practice. In January it made two eye-catching lateral hires, securing Norton Rose Fulbright’s EMEA head of disputes Michael Godden, a financial services expert, and RPC’s head of civil fraud, Andy McGregor.

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