Pallas Partners, the boutique litigation firm founded earlier in the year by Natasha Harrison, has lured Boies Schiller Flexner partner Duane Loft to head its newly launched New York office.
Harrison—a former co-chair and executive committee member of Boies Schiller—left the Am Law 200 firm in November. She launched Pallas Partners in London in February and has already grown the firm in the U.K. to around 32 business professionals and attorneys, including seven partners and 12 associates.
Loft is a trial lawyer who takes on complex business matters—particularly restructuring disputes, contested issues in bankruptcy, and international litigation.
Pallas launched in the U.K. with a number of existing, high-profile mandates that included the Proindicus Mozambique note holders in their litigation against Credit Suisse, and class actions representing Greensill investors. Since its launch, the firm has also picked up mandates including for BitMEX cryptocurrency billionaire Ben Delo against payment giant Wise, and CS Asia Opportunities Master Fund over a prime brokerage agreement. Pallas is also acting pro bono for ClientEarth in a legal action planned against petrochemical giant Shell’s board of directors, alleging climate risk mismanagement.
Speaking about her plans for Pallas’ U.S. operations in an earlier interview, Harrison said she anticipates the New York office eventually being home to around 30 lawyers.
“I’ve never imagined us being more than 60 lawyers across both jurisdictions—30 in each city,” she said. “The moment you get over that bench size, the firm becomes a very different proposition, which is not one I’m particularly interested in.”
Over the summer, Harrison oversaw the renovation of 7,510 sq. ft. in 75 Rockefeller Plaza, in Midtown Manhattan, where Loft and the growing firm will reside.
In a statement announcing Loft’s arrival, Harrison said her London opening had “exceeded even my best expectations,” and she was “thrilled” that just six months later Pallas was in a position to launch a U.S. presence.
Harrison said she had “worked closely” with Loft for many years at Boies Schiller and was “delighted” he had agreed to join Pallas.
“We share a similar work ethos and a burning commitment to create a different kind of law firm capable of leveraging bold, winning strategies that drive value for our clients,” she said.
As the U.S. is the world’s most sophisticated litigation market and the main driver of cross-border litigation in Europe, Harrison said it was an important part of her firm’s strategy to have strength in depth in both London and New York.
“We will continue to grow our New York office with further lateral hires,” added Harrison.
Loft has spent the past 11 years at Boies after five years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. At least since Harrison’s departure from the firm, he had been splitting his time between New York and Boies’ London office.
He said that in Pallas Partners, Harrison had “figured out the blueprint” for a modern litigation firm.
That blueprint involves keeping conflicts to an absolute minimum, putting the client’s interests at the front of the firm strategy, and being “incredibly” selective in the matters Pallas will take on.
“It’s about being very selective about the matters we take on. It’s not easy to turn away work when your plan is to grow the firm, but it’s essential so that you can really focus on the things that matter the most; serving our clients, developing talent and cementing the right culture,” Loft said in an interview.
It also involves selecting the “top” litigators to join the firm in New York, said Loft, declining to be drawn on whether any lawyers or clients were following him from Boies to Pallas.
“There’s going to be a first-rate team in New York, you can count on that,” he said. “If you know Natasha, you know that she has a talent in putting together the best teams.”
Loft and Harrison were close colleagues for years, he said, working together to build “very successful practices” and delivering “tremendous results” for clients in cross-border cases.
The two met in 2013 when Loft was in London working on a cross-border matter.
“Although I was a relatively young lawyer at the time, I was in a good position to interview candidates for Boies’ London office opening,” said Loft, adding that after seeing a few candidates, when he got to Harrison, he immediately stopped. “This is a chance to reunite and grow in New York what has already been a huge success in London. I wouldn’t be moving otherwise.”
Before Loft, Harrison’s most recent recruit was Nelson Goh in May from Debevoise & Plimpton in London.
A spokesperson for Boies Schiller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.