A year ago this week

Brobeck Hale and Dorr sparks US assault on regional law firms

US firm Brobeck Hale and Dorr took three top partners from Morgan Cole to set up an Oxford office.

Corporate partners Joe Pillman, Jonathan Loake and Kate Eavis, the mainstay of Morgan Cole's Thames Valley corporate practice, left to join the first US firm in the UK to establish an office outside London.

Brobeck had previously had a close referral relationship with Morgan Cole and Pillman had covered maternity leave for Julia Bracewell in Brobeck's London office.

The office eventually opened in the prosperous Thames Valley area in June and has since taken on six assistants, bringing the number of lawyers in the Oxford office to nine.

Clients include Bookham Technology, mobile data company Screen and Oxford BioSignals. It also handled the acquisition of independent record label Cheeky for BMG.

In its efforts to develop relationships with major clients in the region such as Oracle and Cisco, Brobeck has already begun an aggressive expansion plan. The Oxford office has space for 22 lawyers, allowing the firm to more than double its current size in the coming months and years.

Linklaters to spin off Blue Flag web service

Linklaters & Alliance was set to spend £5m to spin off its internet service Blue Flag, which was launched in 1996 for documentation drafting, advice and transaction management.

It was reported at the time that Linklaters hoped to secure further external investment to expand its use outside the legal profession.

That decision was later reviewed and it was decided that it was best for all concerned to stay within the Linklaters brand.

The last 12 months has seen Blue Flag ambitiously spending its £5m investment on expanding its range of products and its team, which now numbers fifteen.

On 10 January this year Blue Flag was chosen by the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank). This new product, Blue Flag World Bank, will be used by the bank to help in its global debt issuance facility. Others include Blue Flag Regulatory, Funds, Derivatives and Employee Share Plan. Other advisory products are expected to be announced in the coming months.

The service has already led to the development of a new financial markets group in the firm under Paul Nelson, who originally developed the Blue Flag concept.

The group currently has 25 lawyers, including three partners.