No standing still for Chadbourne

Hires add to Latin America and Poland offerings.

No standing still for ChadbourneCHADBOURNE & PARKE

Hires add to Latin America and Poland offerings

Last month in this column the growth plans of Watson Farley & Williams came under the spotlight. Now we can report that the UK firm’s erstwhile merger partner Chadbourne & Parke is also looking to underline the point that its own expansion plans did not die along with the talks between the two firms last November.

Chadbourne has already grown significantly this year. Last week the firm announced that it had hired a team of four lawyers, including one partner from Wierzbowski Eversheds, to strengthen its practices in ­infrastructure, PPP, M&A and real estate in Poland.

The senior lawyer in the group, Micha Kurzyski, is best known for infrastructure and PPP and will lead Chadbourne’s practices in those areas in Warsaw.

A few months earlier, in March, Chadbourne had snared a team of lawyers from the Latin American practice of US firm Thacher Proffitt
& Wood. The group hire gave ­Chadbourne a Mexico City office, a significantly enhanced Latin ­America practice and, as first ­reported by The Lawyer (4 March), a leg-up towards its ambition of opening an office in São Paulo later this year.

The Latin America bolt-on also gifted Chadbourne litigation partner Oliver Armas – the man now overseeing a wide-ranging review of the firm’s international disputes practice. The review is targeted at bringing more cohesion to the group worldwide, as well as promoting ­significant cross-office growth in concert with Chadbourne’s ­international expansion plans.
One of the key planks of Armas’s strategic plan is growth in London, where in particular one of Chadbourne’s newest partners will be looking to strengthen the firm’s international arbitration capabilities.

As ;Chadbourne ;managing ­partner Charles O’Neill confirms, Armas’s push for additional disputes firepower comes at a time of ­significant growth for the US firm.

“This year, as well as bringing in Ollie [Armas] and a number of other lawyers from Thacher ­Proffitt, we also opened in Dubai and saw the return of Jack Greenwald,” he says. “Jack started as a summer ­associate at Chadbourne and ended up forming his own firm in the ­Middle East, but we stayed in touch throughout and regularly worked together until he came back to us.”

Armas’s initiatives in relation to Chadbourne’s international ­litigation group is partly a pulling together of what the firm already has across its international network and partly about gearing up to add capacity. With more international transactional work expected to be generated in the City, the reasonable expectation is that an uptick in arbitration instructions will follow.

As O’Neill points out: “We have significant opportunities emanating from Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa – we do a fair amount of development work there in power. And additional depth in both our transactional and dispute resolution practices in London will enable us to better ­capitalise on those opportunities.”

Although the pursuit of growth in both of Chadbourne’s London-based transactional and disputes practices are, according to O’Neill, “independent”, it seems likely that the City’s growing importance as a centre for international arbitration, coupled with the firm’s targeting of transactional opportunities across Europe and the Middle East, is ­likely to result in a marked upturn in UK-based arbitrations for the US firm. This partly explains the current ­litigation review.

What is less clear is whether Chadbourne will be successful in attracting the recruits it is looking for. International arbitration is increasingly the flavour of the month at many firms across the US and UK. Immediately snaring the required number of additional ­litigation and arbitration specialists to handle this hoped for increase in workload is not going to be easy.

Still, in the absence of another Watson Farley on its horizon, ­Chadbourne appears determined to make it happen.