Paul Weiss plots to open in London

US firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is to open an office in London.

The 350-lawyer firm has been looking at options for launching in the City since early this year, joining the throng of transatlantic firms.

Paul Weiss's new managing partner Alfred Youngwood, who took up his post on 1 May, says: “We are actively looking at London and we hope within the near future to take some steps.”

The New York firm already has offices in Paris, where it opened in 1979, Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Washington DC and is looking to expand its European presence. “The London and

European markets are increasingly significant for us,” says Youngwood.

“We have a large number of clients who have asked us to do this and who are interested in us having a London office, and we always have a large number of partners in London on transactions and arbitrations.”

Youngwood says the clients include investment banks, media, telecoms and insurance companies.

He will not be drawn on the details or timing for the proposed London operation, but he says: “We would expect that we would have both US and locally qualified lawyers.”

The London operation will cover corporate, litigation, bankruptcy, tax, and real estate transactions. “We also have a substantial telecoms practice worldwide as well as project finance,” says Youngwood.

Some US firms have underestimated the cost and long-term commitment of opening in London, and the City is awash with rumours that partners in the US are becoming impatient with their UK operations.

But Youngwood says: “It is a significant undertaking and we want to make sure we do it in an appropriate way for us and our clients.

“We have explored most of the models [for a London office] and we are working to determine which is best for us.”