Herbert Smith in long-awaited New York launch after collapse of European alliance

Herbert Smith is set to kickstart its international strategy following the collapse of its European alliance by launching in New York, with openings in Korea and sub-Saharan Africa also in the pipeline.

Herbert Smith is set to kickstart its international strategy following the break-up of its European alliance with Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe by launching in New York, with openings in Korea and sub-Saharan Africa also in the pipeline.

The City firm has announced its intention to launch in the US city with a practice focusing on arbitration, investigations and cross-border disputes.

The firm said in a statement: “We will be opening an office in New York, focussed on disputes matters and on supporting our worldwide network.

“There is increasingly a US element to our disputes work so this is very much a natural development for us. Having a US capability will significantly enhance our existing strong international disputes practices.”

It follows calls from disputes partners at the firm for a Manhattan base, especially from arbitrators, over fears that the practice had lost its leading position, revealed by The Lawyer earlier this year (8 August 2011).

The firm is also seriously considering a presence in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa and Korea. It is understood that these plans will definitely get the go-ahead but that a decision is set to be taken in 2012 on where exactly the offices will be.

Herbert Smith is also eyeing a German launch, but these plans are held back by a clause in the alliance agreement with local independent Gleiss Lutz preventing an office opening within a year of the alliance’s termination (28 November 2011).

Meanwhile, the firm is understood to be putting pressure on partners to get their billings in before the end of the calendar year and is considering delaying partners’ drawings as a financial discipline measure. It is set to take a decision on this at the firm’s limited liability partnership council meeting this Friday (9 December), which sits regularly.

The UK firm pulled out of its longstanding alliance with Gleiss and Benelux firm Stibbe (24 November 2011) after the European pair voted against a merger with the London outfit (22 November 2011).