LEADING US firm Kirkland & Ellis has opened its first office outside America in London.
The Bishopsgate office, which opened on 1 November, is staffed by resident partners Sam Haubold and Stuart Mills, who have transferred from Chicago.
Haubold says no plans have been made to transfer additional US staff to London or to recruit within the UK, although lawyers will fly in to handle specific cases.
“At the present time we don't have any other permanent people in London,” he says.
“We are trying to determine what the appropriate configuration for the office is going to be, but we will be relying on fee earners from our US offices.”
Approximately 80 per cent of the firm's lawyers have PCs and Haubold says direct access through information technology will make it possible for lawyers in the two countries to work together.
He says that the 200-partner practice opted to use London as the base for its European operations because it views the City as the centre of European Union activities.
“This is our initial office outside the US. We see this as a European office – not simply for the UK but also for our business activities in the rest of Europe,” says Haubold.
He says the firm will practice exclusively in US law, and it has no intentions of expanding into English work.
“Our orientation is practising American law and working collaboratively with UK firms,” says Haubold.
“Other American firms have actively recruited UK solicitors and tried to incorporate European and UK practices within the firm. We do not intend to do that.
“We have got very good relationships with the major English firms and we've got referral relationships with them. We are not seeking to compete with them.”