Meanwhile, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) hired two energy partners from Watson Farley & Williams and RPC hired a chief operating officer (COO) from Clifford Chance (CC).
In the latest loss for NRF, insurance and marine disputes partners Patrick Foss and Chris Zavos have quit the firm for Kennedys after eight years, alongside counsel Jo Ward, who will make partner in the move.
Foss and Zavos both joined NRF from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert when their former firm merged with Clyde & Co in 2011. Their practice focuses on disputes work in marine, energy, terrorism, trade credit and political risk.
Kennedy’s marine head Christopher Dunn told Legal Business: ‘They are a fantastic team. We have been talking to them for some time, they are close friends of ours and they are market leaders in their sector of marine and energy. It represents a good way for us to increase our market share globally.’
He anticipated further growth in the firm’s 52-lawyer global marine team, with a particular focus on America. The firm recently established associations with firms in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama, expanding its regional footprint to 11 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A spokesperson for NRF said: ‘We have great strength in depth with over 30 partners in our London disputes team, a total of 60 partners across EMEA and 1200 lawyers in our global disputes group. We are committed to retaining a strong profile in London for our insurance and shipping clients across the global network.’
The move is the latest step in Kennedys’ expansion of its marine offering. In 2016 the firm merged with marine and shipping boutique Waltons & Morse and last year it hired a team from Mayer Brown including insurance and reinsurance head David Chadwick.
Last year it opened an innovation back office in India, called Kennedys Kognitive Computing. The firm now counts 37 offices worldwide.
For NRF, this is the latest in a series of losses in London and abroad. In July last year it lost one of its most senior London partners as veteran litigator Sam Eastwood quit after three decades to join Mayer Brown.
In January this year it pulled out of Venezuela, its 26-lawyer local practice joining Dentons, while last year it closed in Kazakhstan and Abu Dhabi and lost its Tokyo corporate team to Paul Hastings.
Meanwhile, BCLP announced the hire of energy partners John Conlin and Rod Chooramun from Watson Farley. Also a former NRF partner, oil and gas specialist Conlin joined Watson Farley in January 2016 from Andrews Kurth, while energy and infrastructure lawyer Chooramun was promoted to partner in 2017.
In a Monday full of announcements, RPC hired CC general manager Alistair Johnson as its new COO. A member of CC’s management team, Johnson was responsible for operational delivery in the UK for five years. Prior to that he was CC’s IT director for London and the Middle East. He is set to join RPC next September as a board member.