A&P’s NY focus aims to boost financial regulatory arm

Arnold & Porter (A&P) is ramping up the investment to its New York office, with an additional focus on its financial institutions regulatory practice in particular.

The head of the practice Patrick Doyle this month relocated to New York from the firm’s Washington DC headquarters. Doyle’s move is an attempt to capitalise on the increase in regulation that is widely anticipated to follow the subprime-related market turmoil and the collapse of major financial institutions such as Bear Stearns.

Doyle revealed that the firm’s focus on subprime issues predated last year’s market collapse by several months.

“We’ve been working with clients with regulatory issues relating to that market for around 15 months,” says Doyle. “We’ve watched it grow from page five of the business section when we first got involved to front page – above the fold. That helped crystallise our thinking.”

Doyle adds that his move will allow him to be closer to the increasing number of New York-headquartered financial institution clients, as well as assist with providing these clients with direct feedback on developments in DC.

The increasing prominence of A&P’s financial institutions regulatory practice is part of a wider push by the firm to make growth across the board in New York one of its top priorities.

A year ago the firm renewed the lease on its Park Avenue office for another 15 years. At the same time it took another floor in the building, giving it space for up to 125 lawyers in total.

The firm aims to fill it within two years, but has already made significant headway. In January 2007 A&P’s New York office numbered 77 lawyers. A year later that had grown to 94.

The 17 additional lawyers included three lateral partner hires (Lou Ederer, a former Torys IP partner who counts Louis Vuitton and other luxury goods suppliers among his clients, and corporate lawyers

Juan Manuel Trujillo from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton and Fred Fucci from Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner) plus one internal promotion.

As well as emphasising New York’s increasing prominence in A&P’s strategy, the recent growth reflects a push at the firm to improve leverage, and profitability, in practices where it makes sense.

In 2007 the firm took on a record number of lawyers (95), a move seen as both improving the service to clients while nudging up the firm’s average profit.

During 2007 senior management discussed the introduction of a two-tier partnership, a move also aimed at improving profitability. But this move was rejected following concerns over the impact on A&P’s partnership culture.