Crowell & Moring has tapped financial litigator Robert Weekes, the former leader of Squire Patton Boggs’ London office, to deliver substantial growth for the firm’s own London operations.
Weekes spent a decade as Squire’s London managing partner before stepping down in April 2018, having hit the ceiling for the role as mandated by the firm’s partnership deed. But he said he decided he was not through with the challenges of growing a practice, and leaders at Crowell inquired at the right time about putting him in charge.
“I could could have carried on at Squire and been a full-time litigation partner,” he said. “But I enjoyed the building role, and I saw the opportunity to do that here.”
At Squire, he was replaced in London by global managing partner Stephen Mahon, who moved from Cincinnati and added responsibilities in that city to his existing portfolio.
The core of Weekes’ law practice focuses on advising banks, other financial institutions and insurance companies on fraud investigations and recovery.
“I’m almost always on the good side of the law,” he said. “I’ve occasionally acted for defendants, but it’s kind of rare.”
Weekes has also increasingly been working on data and cybersecurity work, as well as cross-border investigations. Over the last decade, all this activity unfolded alongside his efforts in growing Squire’s London office and coordinating two major mergers: the 2010 combination between Squire Sanders & Dempsey and U.K’s Hammonds and the 2014 creation of Squire Patton Boggs.
“I’ve never focused on management to the exclusion of client work,” he said.
Weekes sees similar opportunities to grow Crowell’s London office, which currently is home to eight partners and 13 lawyers in total. After looking at the firm’s operations in New York and Washington, as well as Brussels, he concluded it needs to be larger to properly serve the firm’s international clients.
“It’s a smaller office that needs to be built,” he said.
Phil Inglima, chair of Crowell’s managing board, agreed, explaining that the firm targeted Weekes both for the cache of his own practice and clients and also for his track record in bolstering Squire’s London presence.
Previous moves intended to grow the London office have been less successful than hoped, Inglima acknowledged. Now the firm is focused on growing corporate work and identifying practices that are connected, citing examples like fraud investigations and international dispute resolution.
“We’re excited about how he will catalyze our efforts and take us into a greater orbit than we’ve had before in London,” he said of Weekes, who has been empowered to increase the size of the office by multiples.
Inglima also spoke about building practices that are adjacent to the firm’s U.S. expertise in regulatory practices, identifying M&A work in regulated industries like health care, defense and telecommunications.
“In London we want to make sure that the growth of the firm is of course U.K.-focused and on the that clients are intrinsic to the office but is complementary to the strength of the firm, especially in the U.S,” he said.
And he’s convinced that Weekes is the right person for the job.
“He’s got the right instincts for building: a great sense of the business of law and the business of the clients that he serves,” Inglima added. “That’s an important talent for any lawyer, but especially for someone who’s going to lead an office and an enterprise—it’s essential.”