Denton Hall has hired two of Dibb Lupton Alsop's three New York-based partners in order to open an office in the city.

Christopher Keegan is to head the new office while the second Dibbs partner to defect, Steven Blair, has travelled back to London to head Dentons' insurance and reinsurance practice.

The New York office, which is staffed by three fee earners who moved to the firm from Dibbs with Keegan and Blair, will specialise almost entirely in insurance and reinsurance. The office is Dentons' first US venture since its Los Angeles office closed several years ago.

Keegan said the move was attractive to Denton Hall because of the increasing internationalisation of the reinsurance market.

He added: 'Reinsurance and related litigation will be the core services, but we will also hope to offer litigation in areas where Denton Hall's global reach will be a significant advantage, such as fraud and bankruptcy.'

John Griffith-Jones, Denton Hall's head of international strategy, denied that the move was opportunistic. 'Setting up the New York office was incidental to strengthening our insurance practice, which is central to our strategy. It is an area we have long been determined to develop, especially in Asia, where there is a lot of potential.'

Keith Berman, head of Dibbs' New York office, said the New York practice, currently consisting of Berman and two other lawyers, would now concentrate on multi-jurisdictional litigation and recovery.

'We're very busy and very bullish,' said Berman. 'I have a mandate to expand.'

Berman only joined Dibbs' New York office last September when he took up a consultancy position after closing his own practice, which was originally an offshoot of the Liverpool firm Bermans.