New York firm White & Case has broken new ground for a US firm with a London office by hiring a full-time marketing specialist to establish its European marketing department.
The firm, which heralded its expansionist ambitions last autumn when it announced it would be paying higher US salary rates to its English fee earners, has poached Oliver Pykett from Hammond Suddards' marketing department.
Pykett, who has already left Hammond Suddards, will join White & Case in London in mid-June as the firm's public relations co-ordinator for Europe.
A spokeswoman for the firm in New York, where inquiries are still being referred, was reluctant to comment, saying "the structures and strategies of our marketing department are internal matters for discussion within the firm".
However, she added that the appointment gave White & Case's European offices marketing support "within the same time-zone". She said the firm would also create a similar post for its Hong Kong office.
Chris Hinze, public relations manager at Nabarro Nathanson, said it was a new development which none the less "made sense". He added that it was "imperative for law firms to have their marketing and PR as close to the firm as possible".
Hinze also said a "very small pool" of people specialised in PR for the professional services and that demand was increasing.
Corinna Christophorou, director of business development at Baker & McKenzie's London office, said firms were increasingly realising that pr and marketing were "an integral part of the practice".
She added that the top 20 or 30 firms had recognised this and "pay the going rate for the job".
A spokesman for Hammond Suddards said: "We have not recruited a replacement as yet but we are actively seeking a heavyweight PR manager."