Alston raids Pillsbury for London, German growth

US firm Alston & Bird is targeting a launch in both London and Germany following the hire last week of technology partners Trevor Nagel and Lee Van Blerkom from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Nagel, who has joined as chair of Alston’s global sourcing practice, is best known as the lawyer who founded the London office of Shaw Pitman. He said Alston had “embarked on a globalisation plan” and wanted a lawyer with experience of launching and running a global practice.

“Alston already has a substantial international practice, but we’ll be looking at key jurisdictions to see if it makes sense to have an office there,” Nagel told The Lawyer. “It’s a very, very interesting challenge.”

Nagel said the projected timescale for a London launch was 18-36 months. “But a plan’s only a plan,” he added. “If an opportunity is there you go with the opportunity.”

Nagel described his and Van Blerkom’s practice as transactional and “historically on the user side”. Recent clients included Ahold, PepsiCo and Nokia, which Van Blerkom advised on a 64-jurisdiction project. The pair joined Alston on 1 July and their exit suggests that the proportion of revenues from international sourcing projects at Pillsbury will decrease in favour of domestic fees.

However, Bob Zahler, a partner in the technology group at Pillsbury, said the firm continued to have one of the largest global sourcing practices in the world, with more than 50 lawyers.

Although a lot of Alston’s practice and client base is international, the 700-lawyer firm currently has no overseas offices. In the US it has offices in Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina, New York and Washington DC.