Brown Rudnick London grows against the grain

Scott Burns

’Under the radar’ is ­probably a fair description of Brown Rudnick’s ­London office. The US firm has never ­really been one to shout about what it does.

And as that is exactly the way the 230-lawyer firm likes it, do not expect to see things changing radically any time soon.

Saying that, things have been stirring recently over in the firm’s 24-lawyer ­Mayfair office.

Over the past couple of years Brown Rudnick has been on a hiring spree (well, relatively). The 2008 arrival of Louise Verrill, Addleshaw Goddard’s ­former head of corporate restructuring, strengthened the firm’s insolvency group significantly.

Since then the firm’s hires have included former Bear Stearns managing director (and Allen & Overy lawyer) Sonya Van de Graaff, who joined as a ­partner in ­Verrill’s group and who took on the head of finance role; former Credit Suisse M&A director (and Ashurst lawyer) Adam Penny; and Lena Hodge, a corporate partner who joined last ­September from Orrick ­Herrington & ­Sutcliffe.

The firm also snared an entire team in the shape of the commercial litigation arm of immigration and human rights boutique Gherson, a group headed by former Bingham and DLA Piper partner Neil ­Micklethwaite.

At least Micklethwaite’s arrival had the advantage of handing Brown Rudnick a few associates. At 19 ­partners to six associates as of 1 January this year, the current leverage in London looks a little out of whack, although office head Scott Burns claimed that this is “just the way our clients like it”.

Certainly in the firm’s core areas of bankruptcy and restructuring and ­litigation and tax, as well as in ­corporate, partner ­contact (or “reverse ­leverage”, as Burns quips) can be critical.

And it does not appear to have done the firm too much harm. Brown ­Rudnick’s financial year ended on 31 January, and while figures were not ­available at press time, the indications are that it had a record year (indeed, sources suggest it beat budget by 17.5 per cent).

Brown Rudnick may be based in the former offices of dotcom casualty Boo.com, but the indications are that it is in no danger of crashing and burning just yet.