US firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is setting up a UK law practice in London after backing out of its capital markets joint venture with Simmons & Simmons.
The two firms set up a joint international securities practice in 1997 working out of Simmons' offices in London and using a combination of English and US lawyers, but now Fried Frank has decided to go it alone.
Fried Frank partner Timothy Peterson and two associates were seconded to Simmons, but have now been called back to build the practice.
Michael Rauch, Fried Frank's co-managing partner, says: “We brought our people back from Simmons & Simmons around the end of November, and our own personal goal now is to grow our London office.
“We have a lot of clients who are over here and would like to give us more work. We were getting increasing calls from our regular clients and we felt we needed to brand our business and expand what we were doing.
“It made more sense to us to have all our people, including our capital markets people, as part of an expanded team in our own office.”
The firm does not have any English lawyers in its London office at the moment, but Rauch says that he plans to recruit.
“We would like [the launch] to be as soon as it can be – we are actively working on it at the moment.”
Simmons lost one of its top capital markets partners to US firm Brown & Wood in November last year. John Russell had co-founded the firm's securities department, and at the time told The Lawyer that he wanted to go to a firm where he could develop his practice (The Lawyer, 8 November).
Rauch says the firm continues to refer some of its capital markets work to Simmons, but it also works with other UK firms.
Simmons' managing partner David Dickinson says: “We still do some work with Fried Frank, and we still do some joint pitches, but the joint venture ended because it wanted to boost its London office.”