King & spalding forges ahead with global strategy

King & Spalding will launch its second office in California when it opens the doors on its San Francisco outpost on 25 March.

The move is part of the all-out assault to expand nationally and internationally that has seen the firm open six offices in the past two years.

Head of King & Spalding’s IP practice group Courtland Reichman, who is relocating to California from Atlanta to become West Coast managing partner, says the firm is aggressively developing its national profile. It is “not credible”, Reichman says, for King & Spalding not to have a presence on the West Coast.

“We’re a national law firm, close to the top 25 in the US in terms of revenue, and we need to be in California,” he says.

The firm’s ramping up on the US West Coast coincides with the fifth anniversary of the launch of the London office. King & Spalding’s London office grew from 18 to 22 lawyers in the past financial year. Sixteen of its London lawyers are UK-qualified, while three are full equity partners.

The City office was launched prior to a strategic review spearheaded by King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays in 2006.

Reichman says Hays’s nine-month review “re-energised” the firm and put national and international expansion at the top of the agenda.

“Robert identified a handful of practices for the firm to focus on and brand itself around,” says Reichman. “To achieve the kind of targets and growth we want meant we had to grow via lateral hires. There’s a huge pool of talent in California we’ve not been tapping into and our competitors are. For us not to be on the West Coast is not credible.” Last month King & Spalding launched its first office in the region with the hire of a two-partner, seven-associate team from the Menlo Park office of Perkins Coie.

The two new Silicon Valley partners are Paul Andre and Lisa Kobialka, who both specialise in IP and high-tech litigation.

King & Spalding’s expansion into California follows new offices opened since December 2006 in Frankfurt, Charlotte, Riyadh and Dubai.

“Asia is the next frontier,” says Reichman. “Are we credible as a truly international law firm if we’re not there? We recognise the need to be there and are currently evaluating options in Asia. It’s self-evident – you need to be there.”