King & Spalding nabs Kirkland arbitration team

Javier Rubinstein and two other partners have joined the arbitration powerhouse.

Posted Wednesday, February 26th 2020
King & Spalding nabs Kirkland arbitration team

From left: Javier Rubinstein, Lucila Hemmingsen and Lauren Friedman

Three years after arriving at Kirkland & Ellis as its head of international arbitration, Javier Rubinstein has joined King & Spalding along with two junior partners, Lucila Hemmingsen and Lauren Friedman.

 

Speaking to Leaders League recently, Rubinstein emphasised that the bilingualism of all three partners was a key asset in high-stakes disputes; this will no doubt come in handy for the trio’s intended focus on commercial and investor-state disputes in Latin America and Europe. Indeed, in recent months Rubinstein and his team were especially busy for Kirkland on three major Latin American matters, and were acting in parallel ICSID and UNCITRAL proceedings against Spain for a group of Mexican investors, relating to the winding-down of Banco Popular.

 

Nonetheless, 2019 was not a boom year for Kirkland’s US arbitration team, with a couple of arbitration settlements but no headline-grabbing wins. The team may see a stronger lead-counsel case flow at King & Spalding, a premier platform for attracting high-profile arbitration work. Renowned for its investor-state dispute capabilities, the firm also has a superb track record in commercial arbitration. The trio will also have many shoulders to rub against: the depth of King & Spalding’s international arbitration is one of its distinguishing strengths.

 

The firm’s generally entrepreneurial environment was no doubt an attraction for the dynamic Rubinstein; the ability to generate business would have been a key factor enticing him to Kirkland & Ellis in the first place in 2016, from his role as general counsel at PwC.

 

Hemmingsen and Friedman will remain in New York, and Rubinstein in Chicago. The three partners effectively comprised the entirety of Kirkland & Ellis’s arbitration team; we will have to wait and see whether the firm will strategically refocus away from international arbitration, or make some new arbitration hires in the short to medium term.