Denton Hall is closing its New York office after only one year, leaving it without a US presence.
Virginia Glastonbury, dep-uty managing partner of Denton Hall, says: "The reason for the closure is we are doing so much of the work in our London office that there is no point in having someone there, particularly with the use of e-mail and video conferencing."
But a source claims that the office is closing because, of all Denton Hall's international operations, it has showed the least potential.
Denton Hall originally acquired the office from Dibb Lupton Alsop in 1998, with partners Steven Blair and Christopher Keegan joining to specialise in the insurance and reinsurance market. Blair travelled back to work in the London office last year.
The New York office has one partner, Christopher Keegan, one assistant and one litigation support staff member. Keegan would not comment on the specific reasons for closure.
At the time, Keegan said the move to Denton Hall was attractive because of the increasing internationalisation of the reinsurance market.
Another source at a leading international firm in the City says: "The closure underlines how competitive the New York market is, and how important it is for a law firm to be committed to making a long-term investment."
Nigel Carrington, partner at Baker & McKenzie, says: "The New York market is a difficult one to penetrate as it is an institutionalised market, rather like London. If English firms cannot recruit US lawyers to their offices, they will find it hard to survive."
Russell Lewin, Baker's managing partner, says: "We wouldn't pretend New York is our strongest office, but it is business as usual."
Titmuss Sainer Dechert, together with one of the largest US firms Dechert Price & Rhoads, has formed a fully-integrated US practice.
Titmuss senior partner Steven Fogel says unless a firm has critical mass, it will be difficult to succeed.