US firm Weil Gotshal & Manges is moving into three floors of the prestigious new Helicon building in the City to make room for the 120 UK lawyers it expects to have poached before 2000.
Former Clifford Chance partner Maurice Allen, who opened the firm's first City office in January last year has just recruited 15 associates from City firms - giving it 40 lawyers in total - and is expecting to scoop corporate partners from top City firms shortly. The firm also aims to start recruiting tax and insolvency lawyers from City firms next year.
Weil Gotshal's ambitions have grown since last year when Allen said he wanted to have around 100 lawyers before 2001, and be profitable after three years. Now Allen says: "We'll be profitable this year, and with profits on a par with other firms in the same market."
He said the international finance practice had grown as expected and the corporate side had been more successful than envisaged.
He welcomed US firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft's plans to open a City derivatives office, revealed by The Lawyer in June. "If you have a few more US firms with good English lawyers, the US clients start thinking there is an alternative."
Weil Gotshal's new office will be in 40,000 sq ft of space at the One South Place office. It has taken a 25-year lease and is believed to be paying around £40 per sq ft.
Allen said it would be five years before the office was considered too small.