Walkers goes global with London office

Leading Cayman Islands firm Walkers is opening a London office to focus on structured finance and capital markets work.

The firm, which is one of the top law firms for offshore work, is sending in two former Clifford Chance lawyers to launch its City practice.

Partners Susan Harper and David Whittome will fly in to set up the office, which opens for business today (12 March). Both focus on structured finance, asset finance and mutual funds.

The firm’s clients include City law firms, investment funds and banks. Harper says that all three have been calling for a more international service.

She says: “The reason that we are here is basically because clients have asked us to be here and because there’s a large market here that we feel we can better serve by being on the ground.

“We think that we can serve the Far East from here as well, because the time difference is going to be much easier to deal with than in the Cayman Islands.”

The firm is understood to have been considering a move into the City for some time and has approached senior lawyers for the office. But instead of waiting for a lateral hire partner, it is launching with its own people.

Walkers has 40 lawyers with 11 partners and practices a huge range of corporate and capital markets work. The London partners will continue to work closely with the Cayman Islands for company registration and partnership formations. The firm has taken space for 10 lawyers in London, but will initially have just the two partners.

Senior partner and head of corporate and international finance Grant Stein says: “It will be mostly corporate commercial, structured finance, capital markets and mutual funds work that we’ll be doing there.”

He says that City law firms have been among those calling for the firm to open the office, as Walkers has relations with Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Stein says: “We pretty well work with all the major ones, particularly those that are strong in our areas. We have definitely got some feedback from the market that it would be good to have the ability to talk to people in the morning, which is of course difficult over here.”