K&L’s empire state of mind

Empire building hasn’t really been a fashionable phrase ever since Kaiser Wilhelm decided that feathered Prussian military head-dress would go down a storm in sub-Saharan Africa.

But K&L Gates, never a firm to be coy about its hiring sprees, has signalled its continuing intent of becoming a serious global player by opening an office in the little-known Belgian backwater of Brussels (see story).

The new outpost is the firm’s 37th office. It joins other tourist hotspots such as Anchorage, Alaska, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the exotically monikered Research Triangle Park in North Carolina in the K&L atlas.

The Brussels base will sprout from a double swoop on McDermott Will & Emery, which saw corporate partner Patrice Corbiau and competition specialist Philip Torbøl move to its expansionist rival.

And as one US firm grows, another appears to wither on the vine, with Corbiau and Torbøl just the latest in a string of departures for McDermottt, the most stinging of which was the nine-partner group, including one in London, that left the firm for Cadwalader (see story).

Add in the latest pair and that’s a whole football team’s worth of partners gone in less than a month. Top brass at the firm is probably wishing there’s a transfer window for lawyers too.