US firms are hardly famed for their UK real estate and litigation practices. London managing partner Bob Goldspink has a healthy litigation team at Morgan Lewis & Bockius and former Richards Butler partner Lista Cannon took her busy contentious litigation practice to Fulbright & Jaworski, but her presence alone will not concern market leader Herbert Smith. And as for real estate, Paul Hastings Janofsky &Walker has made some inroads and former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Graham Prentice is a respected figure at LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae, but neither has yet set the market alight.
So, why is Hunton & Williams now looking to build out its successful AIM and energy-focused team into real estate and litigation? Apparently the aim is to become a full-service outfit in the UK. Fair enough. But the plans to beef up its insolvency/ restructuring and finance capabilities could have a far better chance of success if the current US experience is anything to go by.