OC sends heavyweight contingent to launch Manhattan base

Osborne Clarke has opened an office in Manhattan in a bid to enhance its relationships with tech companies and intermediaries in the US.

The firm, which has been mulling the establishment of a New York office since October 2012 (1 October 2012), will formally open for business in the city’s Soho district on Monday (28 October) when it will begin sending partners from its European offices on a rolling basis.

Management intends to have two or three partners on the ground in New York at any one time, rotating every seven to ten days. The initial team of 12 partners and associate directors includes Osborne Clarke’s senior partner Tim Birt, London office head Andrew Saul and head of digital business Adrian Bott.

“We’ll have a tag-team rotation presence, building up to a permanent presence,” said Bott.

The office will initially focus purely on Osborne Clarke’s digital business sector work, primarily providing UK legal advice to European clients who have moved into New York or US clients looking to gain a stronghold in Europe. It also hopes to establish relationships in the venture capital and investor communities.

“Digital business is such a broad and far reaching spectrum that it could broaden out in future to include heath tech and health diagnostics,” said Bott. “We could also reach into the Boston community where there are investors and early-stage growth companies working in areas like healthcare and life sciences. There’s clearly an overlap there.”

The firm aims to mirror the development of its Palo Alto office, which has had a successful 12 years since its establishment in 2001 (2 October 2000). The West Coast office is now home to one permanent partner, one associate, and two additional lawyers who rotate on a six-month basis.

Bott added: “In recent years there’s been a huge surge in tech communities on the East Coast, working in areas including digital business, digital publishing, data and fin tech. It’s complementary to our West Coast office which focuses more on software, tech and e-commerce. All the ways of working we’ve developed in Palo Alto are relevant to the New York market.”

In addition to Tim Birt, Andrew Saul and Adrian Bott, the office’s initial launch team also includes head of the firm’s financial services sector Tim Simmonds, head of advertising law Nick Johnson and co-head of financial disputes Adrian Lifely.

The remaining members are recruitment partner Kevin Barrow, commercial litigator Tom Ellis, financial services partner Paul Anning, Cologne-based venture capital partner Nicolas Gabrysch, and corporate associate directors Mathias Loertscher and Thomas Colmer.

“It’s not a timid toe in the water,” concluded Bott. “We won’t close shop if it doesn’t work out in the next few months or years. The office enhances the business as it stands at present, and we have two-way traffic in and out of New York already.”

Earlier this year, Osborne Clarke helped Bott’s longstanding client Carphone Warehouse on its £471m acquisition of the remaining 50 per cent of its Minnesota-based Best Buy joint venture (30 April 2013). It has also recent advised London-based marketing agency Iris on an investment by American media company Meredith Corporation, and US ad targeting business Rocket Fuel on its European launch and expansion.

Osborne Clarke is in growth mode, having opened an office in Brussels in June (3 June 2013) and Paris in July 2013 (22 July 2013). The firm bolstered the pair with a new partner hire for each in September (4 September 2013).