Paul Hastings revels in City disputes advancement

Michelle Duncan
Michelle Duncan

While firmwide turnover fell by almost 10 per cent last year, from $986m (£639.6m) to $889m, ­revenue in Paul Hastings’ London office mushroomed by 40 per cent to $38m.

The firm’s reasonably bullish predictions for the current year, if achieved, should see the City office grow by at least half that again during 2010. And if the firm gets its way, much of that growth will derive from its nascent City ­disputes practice.

Currently Paul Hastings’ City contentious capability resides in litigation partner Michelle Duncan and financial services litigator Tom O’Riordan, both of whom joined the firm last year from Cadwalader and whose practices to some extent feed off their new firm’s restructuring, structured finance and ­corporate groups.

“Given that litigation is such a big part of the firm worldwide, about a third of the revenue,” says Duncan, “it’s logical for us to grow it in London, although the nature of the market over here [the split profession] means it probably wouldn’t work for it to be a third of the office.”

Duncan adds that, while the integration of her team took longer than expected, overall the year turned out well. Indeed, Paul Hastings chairman Seth Zachary tells The Lawyer that one of the aspects he is most pleased about with the beefed-up London office is the way in which it is integrated into the network.

“What I really like is that it is very integrated with the other offices and with ­similar clients in Germany or New York and elsewhere,” he enthuses. “So I think we’ve seen two things in the past year – it’s getting bigger and it’s integrated.”

Expect the contentious side of the business to ­follow suit over the coming months.