Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is continuing its expansion in the U.S. litigation market with the recent addition of Gayle Klein. Klein brings a wealth of experience in commercial litigation, most recently concentrating on financial transactions, business fraud and contract disputes, and defense of class actions.

Klein has long-standing relationships with numerous clients that are following her to Freshfields, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Financial Services, the global asset manager Portfolio Advisors and the brokerage platform Clear Street.

In addition to her success as a litigator, Klein has a proven track record in building successful commercial litigation practice groups, previously at Weil, McKool Smith and Schulte. She’s now bringing those skills to Freshfields to help grow the firm’s commercial litigation practice and increase its reach in the U.S. market.

Lawdragon: What brought you to Freshfields?

Gayle Klein: I wasn't looking to make a move and wasn’t engaged in a job search. Freshfields identified and contacted me specifically in a targeted search. They had a very impressive pitch as to why they were interested in me.

Ultimately, my decision to make the move was based largely on a combination of three things. Number one is Freshfields has a very broad and diverse platform with a robust corporate practice that I know will really enhance and augment my practice. Number two is market forces. Because business litigation is countercyclical, I believe we're entering a period of increased litigation on behalf of various corporations and the broader platform fits into where I think the market is headed.

The third is that Freshfields has an amazingly collaborative team culture that I felt was a welcoming and conducive environment that will lead to great success.

My skillset is complimentary to the partners in the group that I’m joining. We share the same vision for the group, which is to continue to grow it into a powerhouse, bet-the-company trial team that rivals the best in the country.

Importantly, we have the full backing of firm leadership and commitment of resources to execute our growth strategy. The firm's successes with other litigation sub-practice areas in the U.S. really demonstrates how intentional and effective Freshfields has been in the U.S. litigation market. If you look at the white-collar group, international arbitration, securities and shareholders litigation, and the antitrust group, this is a natural next move for the firm to invest more in commercial litigation.

LD: What sort of growth are you envisioning for the group?

GK: The commercial litigation group has focused until now largely on what I would call transnational litigation, meaning, litigation either for non-U.S. companies with issues arising in the U.S. or a U.S.-based company that has legal issues in multiple countries. That manifests itself in several ways: key among them, anti-terrorism act disputes, contract disputes, particularly in the supply chain area, and the exit of U.S. and UK businesses from the Russian Federation.

Because business litigation is countercyclical, I believe we're entering a period of increased litigation on behalf of various corporations.

Starting in 2019 with the hiring of Ethan Klingsberg and Paul Tiger and extending into 2020 with the establishment of the Silicon Valley office and the hiring of Sarah Solum, the firm made great strides in establishing a U.S.-based clientele with wholly U.S.-based issues. The firm also has made large commitments in recent years in the private capital space, including luring Allison Liff over from Weil.

My focus is going to be twofold at the firm. First and foremost, I'll continue to focus on private capital issues, in particular private credit and private equity. Then I'll be working to build on the firm's successes in the transnational litigation space to continue to develop the practice with U.S.-based clients who have litigation wholly within the U.S.

Of course, as you know, I'm a trial lawyer, as are my fellow commercial litigation partners. So naturally we're going to be touting our trial skills.

LD: You have a history of successfully building practices at different firms. Can you walk us through your path there?

GK: I moved to Silicon Valley as a young partner at Weil where I helped to build a commercial litigation practice to complement its market-leading patent practice. When I joined McKool Smith, I was the first commercial litigation partner to join the firm in New York and built a very successful financial litigation practice there.

My goal when I moved to Schulte was to continue to grow and expand the litigation practice, and we made great strides in the two and a half years I was there.

With the broad and collaborative platform that Freshfields offers via my commercial litigation partners and the backing of the firm, I’d say that success here is a given.

LD: Are you planning on getting involved in any firm committees or culture programs?

GK: My career has greatly benefited from mentors, and I take a lot of pride in the fact that I mentor a lot of people. I will be continuing Freshfields’ rich tradition of mentoring younger lawyers. I will also continue to mentor many of the young people with whom I have relationships from prior firms.

LD: Final question. What first made you want to become a lawyer?

GK: I was an advertising major, and I studied persuasion in college. I'm fascinated by the science behind persuasion and the art that goes along with it. I am equally left and right brained. Being a trial lawyer really satisfies both the left-brain logical nature and the right-brain creative nature of my personality. I am also an incredibly competitive person, so winning satisfies me greatly.