In what marks the latest move to rebuild the U.S. arm of its litigation practice, Clifford Chance has added William Wallace III as head of the firm’s U.S. corporate and financial services litigation group. Wallace, who started work today in the firm’s Washington office, was previously a senior partner at Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy.
Wallace’s practice focuses on complex litigation with an emphasis on commercial disputes, insolvency and fraud litigation. Before joining Milbank in 2001, Wallace led the litigation practice at Morgan Lewis & Bockius and worked in the Justice Department’s Strike Force Against Organized Crime in Boston and for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.
Juan Morillo, who leads Clifford Chance's U.S. litigation practice, said that the firm has been looking to find a leader for its U.S. corporate and financial services litigation practice for a while but needed someone with a “substantial amount of trial experience” for the role.
“It was really a position we wanted to fill because we had been involved in high-stakes cases on behalf of international and domestic clients and needed someone with experience in the courtroom to try them,” Morillo said. “Bill was a good fit for us.”
The litigation practice saw a number of departures last year. In May 2009, Mark Kirsch ditched his post as Clifford Chance’s global head of litigation to join Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s New York office, following a string of partner defections. Kirsch brought with him Joel Cohen, who had been chair of Clifford Chance’s U.S. litigation and disputes resolution practice, and Christopher Joralemon. In 2008, the firm also laid off 17 litigation associates in New York and three in Washington.
Morillo said that that Clifford Chance has been making plays lately to build up its litigation practice, which he said comprises about 50 lawyers split between the New York and Washington offices. He said that the firm began “aggressively” pursuing Wallace a few months ago. Wallace could not be reached for comment.