Lovells US managing partner Marc Gottridge has vowed to continue building the firm’s New York presence following its May merger with Hogan & Hartson, despite the UK firm closing its Chicago base last week (TheLawyer.com, 30 March).
A spokesman for the firm said the seven-partner Chicago office, which has a total staff of 47 and focuses on reinsurance litigation and arbitration, has been under review for some time and the closure is not related to the merger.
Lovells is currently in discussions to see whether there is scope to transfer the Chicago partners to another office, although this is not guaranteed.
Gottridge said he was sad about the closure, adding that the New York team had worked closely with the Chicago partners over the past 15 years. “The team in Chicago has been a great asset,” he said. “The decision to close in Chicago doesn’t in any way impact on the insurance/reinsurance practice or the integration work we’re doing in New York.
“The markets are very different and the range of practice areas is much broader. We have no plans to reduce the size of our practice in New York - on the contrary, we’re looking at a number of potential investments in the corporate and finance practice group areas.”
Lovells firmwide managing partner David Harris said the firm had decided to close in Chicago after the office had performed poorly in the past couple of years.
“For many years since its opening in 1995 the Chicago office produced strong results, focusing on major disputes and arbitrations, primarily in the reinsurance market,” he said. “This is an area that has seen changes in work patterns and the office has been affected by a number of significant conflict situations. Despite the best efforts of partners in Chicago and elsewhere, this has had an impact on the office’s overall performance in recent years and the position is not expected to change.
“This is a Lovells decision, taken following consultation with the Chicago partners who support it. Hogan & Hartson are aware of and understand the reasons behind it.”