Buchanans targets insurance with Denton Wilde partner hire

Pittsburgh firm Buchanan Ingersoll is taking on a partner from Denton Wilde Sapte to spearhead a move into insurance work.

Steven Blair, who joined Denton Hall (now Denton Wilde Sapte) in 1998 as a partner, will be the first insurance partner in the US firm’s London office.

Blair has acted for a raft of international insurance and reinsurance clients, including Axa, Transatlantic and Gerling.

He will split his time between London and New York in an effort to ramp up the firm’s presence in reinsurance work on both sides of the Atlantic.

Blair is dual-qualified in both US and UK law and was based in the New York office of Denton Hall before coming back to London last year. Before joining Denton Hall he was a partner at Dibb Lupton Alsop (now DLA), where he set up the firm’s New York office. Denton Wilde Sapte and DLA have now closed their New York offices.

Blair says: “At Dentons, my North American portfolio business developed more and more so that I was spending at least 50 per cent of my time in the US, even though I was based in London. I just needed support over there, and Dentons didn’t have the capability of providing that support. It became a choice between living out of aeroplanes, giving up the business or leaving, so with agreement from Dentons I left.”

At Buchanan Ingersoll he plans to build a significant transatlantic insurance and reinsurance capability, and he hopes to add a team to London in the next 18-24 months.

“I think what we’re looking to build is probably one, but possibly two more partners and a team of four or six assistants. I think I’ll probably start looking to recruit people straight away, and we’re looking at full completion within the next two years.”

Barry Francis, the managing partner of the London office, says: “There are major opportunities for strategic growth [in insurance work] based on our presence in London and in New York, and Steven will make a major contribution towards our initiative.”

A spokesperson for Dentons says: “Steven Blair’s work has predominantly led him to work in the US, and post merger we’ve a larger and expanded insurance team headed by Adrian Mecz, who’s also dual-qualified.”