Arnold & Porter eyes London and Asia growth

The senior management at Arnold & Porter is in the final stages of completing a new strategy that could see the firm dramatically build up its London office and expand its presence in Asia.

Last week the Washington DC firm’s new chairman Tom Milch flew to London to discuss the firm’s new strategy with senior City-based partners.

“London is a critically important market to us, as increasingly are India and China,” Milch told The Lawyer. “We’ve identified that we want to globalise and build out the practice in line with our clients.”

The move is a tacit admission that until now Arnold & Porter’s UK presence has been underweight.

The firm’s renewed focus on Asia, and in particular China and India, also reflects the fact that some 90 per cent of Arnold & Porter’s lawyers are based in the US.

Milch took over from Michael Sohn as chairman in November last year.

Most of the firm’s partners are equity, all of whom have an equal say in the running of the business. The firm is understood to be currently looking at whether or not it can sustain this model.

Milch agreed that one of the key issues to be discussed over the next few months would be how to maintain Arnold & Porter’s culture, which includes having “a vibrant public interest component”, a major pro bono practice and allowing partners a voice in decision-making, while also making the firm “more nimble”.

He said there was a number of issues he was looking forward to dealing with over the coming months.

“I’m new to the job and recognise the challenges associated with growing our practice in London and Asia,” he added.

Milch may also face similarly challenging issues relating to Arnold & Porter’s partnership structure.