San Fran firm recruits first UK-qualified partner

SAN FRANCISCO-based firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has hired its first UK-qualified partner, marking the start of a drive into English law practice.

Christopher Lewis has left Simmons & Simmons' Hong Kong office to join Orrick Herrington's one-year-old Tokyo office. He will support the firm's structured finance practice, the lynchpin of its international expansion plans.

Michael Meyers, chairman of Orrick's international practice, said: “Chris' addition enables us to provide our services on an even greater scale, and to advise on transactions governed under English law.”

The appointment is Orrick's first significant foray into English law, and Meyers said other moves were on the way. “We believe that to be able to provide a complete service to clients it is necessary to have a complete capability in both US and English law.”

A London office is scheduled to open later this year, once premises have been found and lawyers recruited.

Meyers said: “We are talking to a number of interesting candidates.” He would not say how many lawyers the firm would recruit, but that it “wanted to hit the ground running.”

He said the firm was looking to establish a “substantial presence over time” and foresaw the London office eventually being similar in size to its main offices in San Francisco and New York. Each employs more than 100 lawyers.

Meyers denied suggestions that the firm would aggressively bid for lawyers. “We are not intending to buy in people, but we are looking for people who share the vision we have.”

The firm has, nevertheless, been linked to recruitment adverts offering salaries of up to £1m. Meyers would “not confirm or deny” whether the firm was behind the ads.