Quinn Emanuel bags Kirkland partner for City litigation launch

US litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges is set to launch in the UK under Kirkland & Ellis restructuring and litigation partner Richard East.

East, who had been in advanced talks with Weil Gotshal & Manges, leaves Kirkland at the end of this week, beginning his new job with immediate effect.

Quinn Emanuel, which specialises in bringing litigation against major financial institutions, has been seeking an entry into the City for the past three years.

Los Angeles-based partner Bill Urquhart said: “We had concluded that we were going to go forward with the project to open an office, the focus of which would be to take large complex cases against major financial institutions.

“We want to be able to provide magic circle equivalent legal talent to companies that can’t retain the magic circle because those firms won’t sue the big financial institutions.”

Urquhart added: “There will be lots of work of this type coming from the financial mess we are all in.”

Urquhart said that East was a perfect fit for the firm because his practice concentrates on litigation as well as restructruing, a niche focus area for the firm.

East said: “I’ve had a very wide ranging practice for the last 10 years, first at Cadwalader [Wickersham & Taft] doing bond holder related distressed work and pure commercial litigation. When I joined Kirkland I did a very wide ranging mix of litigation, arbitration and distressed work.

“Quinn Emanuel is a good fit for a number of reasons.”

While Quinn Emanuel has not yet secured an office in London, Urquhart said the intention is to have around 15 lawyers based in the City within the next six months. He added that, while it is possible to move one or two lawyers from the firm’s existing offices, the bulk of the recruits will be hired locally.