Cooley closes in on 1 October London launch with 50-lawyer office pencilled in

California-based firm Cooley is understood to be nearing its long-awaited City base following months of speculation about the firm’s intentions in the UK. 

The firm, which is particularly renowned for its technology and life sciences work, is reportedly seeking to grow its headcount to around 50 lawyers within its first six months in London.

Cooley has previously been linked with Edwards Wildman’s office in London, which has seen a number of partner departures in recent months (20 June 2014).

Edwards Wildman saw the resignation of another London-based corporate partner last week in the form of Niall McAlister, who is set to join Olswang. Within the last few months, the office has also seen its four other corporate partners resign.

These consist of capital markets partner Shawn Atkinson, who is moving to Orrick, and corporate head David Ramm, who quit for Morgan Lewis last month (24 July 2014). It is also understood that transactional partner Stuart Blythe has left for CMS Cameron McKenna, while another transactional specialist Eero Rautalahti is also set to leave the firm.

It is thought that Cooley has been making formal offers to a number of Edwards Wildman’s remaining partners over the past week.

A number of sources suggest that the firm’s IP and commercial litigation lawyers are particularly in demand, while others suggest that Cooley is looking to take over Edwards Wildman’s entire London offering. Edwards Wildman did not comment.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Cooley continues to eye the UK market for a corporate team for its London launch, with US firms in the City particularly on its radar.

The firm is understood to have been eyeing a London office since 2012. However, in June, The Lawyer reported that the Silicon Valley firm had hired a specialist consultant to find it a potential suitor in the UK.

At the time, its CEO Joe Conroy noted that he would seek a team of “20-30 lawyers” if a launch went ahead. He added that Cooley’s plans to launch in London had “ratcheted up” the firm’s agenda over the past year (11 February 2014).

Cooley declined to comment.