Baker & McKenzie launches US tax practice in London

Baker & McKenzie (B&M) is adding a US tax partner to its London office from accountants Deloitte & Touche.

The move is thought to make the firm only the second in the City to offer both UK and US tax advice – after Allen & Overy nabbed US partner Stephen Fiamma from the London office of Jones Day Reavis & Pogue (The Lawyer, 13 March).

Jeff VanderWolk is joining B&M after spending five years at Deloittes as a partner. He is the 17th London-based tax lawyer in London for the firm, and the sixth partner.

Head of tax at B&M London James macLachlan says: “We think there is a significant demand that is not being met for top-quality US tax advice in London. Jeff will be doing a range of things – his main focus will be on two areas.

“One will be advising multinationals, which are either European headquartered investing into the US and/or US multinationals that are investing into Europe. He will be advising on US tax planning issues, either inbound or outbound.

“The second will be advising investment banks on structured financing deals – all of the major US investment banks are very active in that here.”

VanderWolk spent 12 years in Hong Kong before relocating to London last year. Before joining Deloittes he was a senior associate in B&M Hong Kong.

He says: “When I joined Deloittes five years ago, a lot of tax partners were going from law firms to the big five accountants. Now I think I may be at the beginning of a backlash, where some partners who have done that realise they are not particularly happy to be in the big five. It’s sort of a cultural issue.”

B&M London managing partner Russell Lewin says: “Tax has always been the core strength of our business. This shows that we have the most well-developed international tax practice of any law firm.”

B&M now has 350 tax lawyers worldwide.