K&L Gates opens in Brussels with McDermott hires

K&L Gates has opened an office in Brussels with the hire of two partners from McDermott Will & Emery.

The launch brings the total number of offices in the firm’s network to 37.

Corporate partner Patrice Corbiau and competition specialist Philip Torbøl join K&L Gates today with the intention of building up the firm’s presence in Belgium.

In addition to a large number of US offices and a presence in Asia, K&L Gates already has European outposts in Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Moscow, Paris and Warsaw. Global managing partner Peter Kalis said the addition of Brussels would enable the firm to better serve its clients with regulatory issues coming out of the EU.

Corbiau and Torbøl both joined McDermott in 2005 when the firm picked up a team of lawyers from Brussels boutique Stanbrook & Hooper.

Torbøl is the latest in a string of competition partner departures from McDermott. In late January 2010 London-based Scott Megregian also joined K&L Gates, while Alasdair Bell and Davina Garrod quit the firm for football governing body UEFA and Bingham McCutchen respectively.

This January McDermott also lost a nine-partner transatlantic team to Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, including energy partner Doron Ezickson in London.

Torbøl’s practice focuses on EU competition law, including cartel investigations, merger control, and anti-competitive conduct. Meanwhile Corbiau advises Belgian and multinational corporations on a wide range of corporate and commercial transactions.

“The attraction is that K&L Gates is a pretty dynamic firm that’s grown tremendously and been very successful,” Torbøl told The Lawyer. “They have a true ambition to be a global firm that competes at the top level.”

He said the firm had plans to grow the Brussels office quickly from its starting strength of two partners and three associates, bringing in people on both the EU and Belgian law side. Regulatory work is likely to be a particular focus, Torbøl added, building on K&L Gates’s US regulatory practice.