Dewey repositions to make London key

Dewey & LeBoeuf chairman Steve Davis has vowed to make London a strategic priority as he moves to position the firm as a transatlantic, rather than a US, player.

Davis, who took control of the firm following the October merger between US firms Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae, aims to increase the City lawyer headcount by 50 per cent in the next few years.

“One office where we have the expectation of substantial headcount growth is London,” he said. “The office is just shy of 200 fee-earners now and I think, if I had to pull a number out, I’d say that I could see that growing to 300 over the next several years.

“That’s because the UK is such a central country for so many parts of the world. Our chief financial officer presented us with data on projected economic trends, and the consensus view is that the fastest-growing economies will be outside the US. A lot of that will be serviced out of London.”

Conceding that competition in the lateral market was tough, Davis said the firm will also relocate talent to London.

“We’re huge believers in the value of that,” he said, adding that projects partner Tom Moore will move from Boston to London at the beginning of January, along with Moscow-based capital markets partner Dan Coppel.

London also fared well in the merged firm’s first round of partner promotions, gaining four new partners against five in New York and three in Washington DC (www. thelawyer.com, 13 December).