US law firm Paul Hastings has poached white-collar crime partners Jonathan Pickworth and Joanna Dimmock from White & Case in the latest evidence of demand for lawyers with experience in regulatory and corruption probes.

Mr Pickworth joins the California-based firm after just over five years at White & Case, where he heads the firm’s London white-collar crime practice. Ms Dimmock also joined in 2015, from Dechert.

Their departures follow the exit of disputes partner Steven Baker, who Legal Week revealed was leaving for US rival Proskauer Rose on Tuesday.

White & Case said: “We can confirm that Jonathan Pickworth, Joanna Dimmock and Steven Baker are leaving White & Case in due course. We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

Demand for white-collar crime lawyers has risen in recent years as the result of tougher laws such as the Criminal Finances Act in 2017, which introduced a “failure to prevent” offence for tax evasion, and the Bribery Act in 2010.

Greater international collaboration on cross-border investigations such as the three-way probe between French, US and UK prosecutors into aerospace giant Airbus last year has also resulted in multimillion-pound penalties for companies seeking to settle wrongdoing.

Paul Hastings served as lead US counsel for that investigation, which concluded with a record €3.6bn settlement between the Serious Fraud Office, Department of Justice and France’s Parquet National Financier, led by partners Robert Luskin and Nathaniel Edmonds.

Mr Pickworth, who defends individuals against allegations such as corruption and money laundering, represented former JPMorgan foreign exchange trader Richard Usher, one of three traders acquitted on price-fixing charges in 2018.

Ms Dimmock and Mr Pickworth also represented Ziad Akle, a defendant in the SFO’s sprawling investigation into oil and gas consultancy Unaoil, who was sentenced to five years in prison for bribery in July last year.

The hiring of the two partners also underscores the desire from US firms in London to beef up on investigations partners in light of an expected wave of litigation stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Recruitment firm Macrae has predicted that the pandemic will result in a rise in demand for fraud experts.

In a report in July last year, the company said: “As we enter another financial crisis in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we predict the demand for white-collar lawyers will shift once again — severe economic crises tend to shine a bright light on bad actors.”