Mixed results as US firms embark on Euro drive

On This side of the Atlantic US firms have made progress with their particular forays into Europe. For Reed Smith that has meant laying the groundwork ahead of the completion of its tie-up with Richards Butler in January.

The first hire for the merged firm was Susan Mann from Verizon Communications. She will move to London in an of counsel role from Verizon’s Texas HQ. This follows Michael Pollack’s, Reed Smith’s director of strategic planning, move to London in June to oversee transatlantic integration.

Reed Smith also announced that it would merge its two New Jersey offices before January, with operations closing in Newark (www.thelawyer. com, 25 September).

Migrating (temporarily) the other way across the ocean are seven Richards Butler partners who will head practice groups in the UK come January. They are attending a Reed Smith leadership course at University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton Business School this week.

A transatlantic merger that did not get quite so far was Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham’s potential marriage with Salans. As first reported by The Lawyer (11 September), merger talks between the two firms collapsed after four months of negotiations. Kirkpatrick has since entered talks with Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis. Bracewell & Giuliani, however, is content to keep its European aspirations to opening its own London shop. As first reported by The Lawyer (18 September), the Texan firm, in which New York’s 9/11 mayor and presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani is a name partner, is currently hiring a handful of partners in London, mainly to lend banking and finance support for its energy practice in Kazakhstan. The office will be headed by Martin Hunt, formerly of Slaughter and May.

The firm’s managing partner Pat Oxford tells The Lawyer that opening in London was in no way linked to Giuliani’s presidential ambitions. He says: “Rudy’s certainly a popular guy and I’d be lying if I said his arrival at the firm hadn’t brought us valuable introductions in New York, but clients aren’t impressed by this. Unless you can deliver, they don’t want to know.”

He also pointed to London’s popularity among capital markets in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley.