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Dechert is extending its US presence with the launch of a San Francisco office and has made a string of hires in both California and New York
The new office will start as a real estate operation. It adds to Dechert's other Californian office in Newport Beach, which specialises in investment management and state tax. The San Francisco office will be opened in October by Joseph Heil, former chief operating officer and a founder of Precept Corporation, a commercial mortgage underwriting and auction business. Heil specialises in real estate financing, with an emphasis on commercial mortgage securitisation. He rejoins Dechert after leaving in 1998 to become chief legal officer of the Capital Company of America (Nomura Asset Capital Corporation), before launching Precept Corporation. Heil will open the office with former Dechert lawyer David Linder, who rejoins the firm as of counsel from Capital America. Steven Fogel, London managing partner and co-chair of Dechert's finance and real estate group, said: "Falling interest rates and share prices, the assembly of global portfolios - all this focuses attention on real estate as both a local and a cross-border investment. We want to be the lawyers with a US/European real estate brand based on our local reputations in the major cities. In pursuit of this strategy, we've taken an opportunity to extend our US national presence from East to West Coast." News of the launch coincides with the New York hire of Thacher Proffitt & Wood's head of real estate and well-known industry player Joe Forte. Forte joins as a partner together with Thacher Proffitt real estate partner Ellen Goodwin. They have been followed by William Lippman, who joins as of counsel, and six Thacher Proffitt associates. Ruth Cove has also joined from Barclays Capital as of counsel. Forte has represented institutional investors in a broad range of debt and equity investments in real estate and advised portfolio investors and service providers in business and licensing matters throughout the US. Dechert chairman Barton Winokur said: "Real estate is among our fastest growing practice areas both in the US and internationally. The addition of Joe, Ellen and Bill in New York and Joe and David in San Francisco further expands our capabilities to meet our clients' needs."