Offshore firm Walkers has taken three partners from Irish firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice (MOP) as it gears up to launch a new office in Dublin.
MOP Dublin partners Garry Ferguson, Ken Rush and Paul Farrell are now on gardening leave and will join Walkers in October, November and January respectively.
Walkers’ new office is in The Anchorage building in Dublin’s Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, where the firm has taken 10,000sq ft over two floors.
Walkers London managing partner Vicki Hazelden will head the new office but will retain her head of London role, splitting her time between the two cities.
Hazelden was also head of the firm’s Hong Kong office between 2003 and 2006.
The new office is expected to officially open in the autumn and will initially focus on funds, structured finance and asset finance – the areas providing the most synergy with Walkers’ existing offices.
The Cayman Islands-headquartered firm is still recruiting partners and associates in Dublin, and is hoping to grow to between 15 and 20 fee-earners by the end of the year, possibly becoming as large as 40 lawyers.
Walkers is said to be aiming to make Dublin a full-service outfit and plans to add practice areas through new partner hires. Tax is expected to be a particularly strong area for the firm.
Walkers first announced its plans to open an office in Dublin in March this year (TheLawyer.com, 29 March).
It was viewed as a surprise move at the time, since many in the offshore world were critical of Maples and Calder when it became the first offshore firm to launch in Dublin in January 2006.
In addition to launching a law firm Walkers will be unveiling a corporate services team in the Irish capital after hiring Kevin Molony from Citigroup Global Markets as managing director and Anne Flood, who will lead the special purpose vehicle business. She has joined the firm from AIB Financial Services.
MOP declined to comment on the move.
In other offshore news, British Virgin Islands (BVI)-headquartered Harneys has announced that it will open an office in Uruguay, its first in Latin America, after hiring six new associates across three offices (The Lawyer.com, 25 August).
The Uruguay office, which is manned by Argentina-qualified consultant Horacio Woycik, is operational now, but its official opening is not until November.
Harneys development partner Peter Tarn said: “The rationale was to have a permanent bridgehead in Latin America and Uruguay was the obvious choice.
It’s often described as the Switzerland of South America as it has all the necessary infrastructure.
“The office is there so people can get to clients in the region quickly and easily.”
In London Fiona Chandler has joined Harneys from Maples, where she was an associate, while in Cayman associates Mark Bakacs and Angelene Galway join from Sidley Austin and Allen & Overy respectively.
Thomas Williams has also joined Harneys in Cayman. The corporate and commercial litigator practised as a litigation attorney in Cayman since November 2008, before which he worked at Herbert Smith.
4 New Square barrister Claire Robey and O’Melveny & Myers counsel Lewis Chong are also joining Harneys in the firm’s BVI office.