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Latham & Watkins is moving two top partners over from the US as the start of an aggressive expansion of the London office.
The managing partner of the New York office and the chair of the corporate department in Los Angeles are transferring to the UK.
Philip Coviello and Bryant Edwards will significantly boost the firm's London corporate capability.
The moves signal the start of a European growth strategy adopted by the firm after its failed merger talks with Ashurst Morris Crisp (The Lawyer, 19 June).
Lathams executive committee member Bill Voge says that the pair represent a big step into the UK for the firm.
"They are senior corporate securities and M&A guys with general corporate backgrounds," he says. "We cannot continue to service seven investment banking clients that use us in London without putting further resources on the ground."
The firm services investment banks Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.
Coviello has been a partner in the firm's New York office since 1985, when he joined from Dewey Ballantine.
Edwards chairs the 75-strong Los Angeles corporate group.
Voge says: "As long as the clients are driving this then we are going to put resources in London."
The firm is also planning lateral hires to boost the office and then build out into Germany, France, Spain and Italy.