The end of 2012′s third quarter and the start of its fourth have seen Am Law 200 and major international firms busy expanding operations in various corners of the world, while regional shops focused on more modest combinations.
The southeastern United States and the Asia Pacific have been particularly active growth areas over the past six weeks. The Am Law Daily reported earlier this week on Adams and Reese’s opening in Tallahassee through the addition of a group of attorneys from the dissolving Igler & Dougherty, and Winstead’s launch of a New Orleans office with four litigators from Houston-based Beirne, Maynard & Parsons.
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, meanwhile announced Thursday that it will open an office in Charlotte after luring three lawyers from local boutique Kirk Palmer & Thigpen, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer.
Two Birmingham-based firms expanding their regional reach in pursuit of more banking work, Balch & Bingham and Burr & Forman, announced the opening of Florida offices in Jacksonville and Tampa, respectively, via mergers with local shops, according to sibling publication the Daily Report.
At the same time, some Sunshine State firms are establishing outposts beyond Florida’s borders. Tampa-based Am Law 200 firm Carlton Fields opened an office in New York City this week by acquiring six-lawyer boutique Rosner & Napierala, according to our previous reports. And Fort Lauderdale’s Becker & Poliakoff snapped up six-lawyer Manassas, Virginia–based IP shop Litman Law, as well as four-lawyer Stuart, Florida–based Cornett, Googe & Associates, according to sibling publication the Daily Business Review. (Sibling publication The National Law Journal reports that the two mergers enable 160-lawyer Becker & Poliakoff to bolster its real estate group while expanding into IP.)
(Elsewhere in the southeast, Bingham McCutchen announced last month that it will move 250 back-office jobs to a new operations center in Lexington, Kentucky, according to our previous reports. Bingham’s move follows a similar one by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, which expects to finish shifting its own back-office operations to Nashville by year-end.
Other Am Law 200 firms are expanding westward.
Thompson & Knight announced in late September that it would open an office in Los Angeles by relocating a partner from Dallas and luring another from Crowell & Moring, according to our previous reports, while Fox Rothschild launched a Denver location with three IP partners from Bryan Cave.
Washington, D.C.–based BuckleySandler, a 130-lawyer firm that formed in 2009 and debuted on The Am Law 200 this year, announced the opening of its second California office, an Orange County outpost focused on mortgage regulatory matters and litigation, according to The NLJ.
Looking to Asia, Silicon Valley–based Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian is launching its first overseas office by opening in Beijing after poaching a pair of former DLA Piper corporate partners, according to British publication The Lawyer.
Kirkland & Ellis has also begun the process of opening an office in Beijing either later this year or sometime in early 2013, according to a report last month by sibling publication The Asian Lawyer, which notes that British firm Eversheds is also planning a December office opening in the city after securing a license from the Chinese government. Another firm announcing the opening of a Beijing office in September: London-based legal giant CMS Cameron McKenna, which the firm says will focus on the life sciences sector.
The Asian Lawyer reports that Covington & Burling, which already has an office in Beijing, is planning to open a second office in China, this one in Shanghai, later this year following the addition of life sciences and technology partner Weishi Li last month from British firm Bird & Bird for that endeavor.
Also in China, Loeb & Loeb announced Friday that it is opening a Hong Kong office after recruiting former Paul Hastings capital markets partner Benny Pang from his own shop, Pang & Co. The 16 lawyers and staffers at Pang’s firm were previously affiliated with French firm Salans, according to The Asian Lawyer.
In South Korea, which began opening up its legal market last year, a slew of Am Law 200 firms have now opened offices (or moved closer to doing so) in Seoul, including Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which announced this week that its office in the city will open by end of October. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, McDermott Will & Emery, New York’s Cohen & Gresser, Paul Hastings, and Squire Sanders have also received approvals to open in Seoul, according to Legal Week. The British publication notes that up to 16 other firms are keen on establishing a presence on the ground in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Clifford Chance, Ropes & Gray, and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton have already opened offices in the country, whose central bank unveiled a $1.3 billion stimulus plan for businesses last month.
The Asian Lawyer reports that Sheppard Mullin held a gala event last week at Seoul’s Shilla Hotel to celebrate its status as the first foreign firm to open in South Korea, and more festivities are expected as other Am Law 200 firms follow suit. One of those firms, DLA Piper, has been anticipating a liberalization of the South Korean legal sector for at least three years, and has finally been granted an application by the country’s Ministry of Justice to open locally, according to The Lawyer.
Another growth market in Asia—click here for The American Lawyer’s recent emerging markets report—is Singapore. Asian Legal Business noted last month that more than 23 foreign firms have formally applied for licenses to practice local law and hire local lawyers.
The Asian Lawyer reported in September that Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer would return to the city-state with an office opening in mid-October. Freshfields abandoned its previous Singapore outpost in 2006. While that office was allied with local shop Drew & Napier, Legal Week reports that this time around the London-based firm intends to restart its operation with lateral hires and partners relocated from Hong Kong.
Legal Week also reports that Cleary made its first office opening in the Middle East last month when it launched in Abu Dhabi after relocating corporate partner Gamal Abouali from Paris. CMS, which is relocating partners from London and Aberdeen, Scotland, is opening in nearby emirate Dubai, according to The Lawyer.
Finally, European cities are still a draw for Am Law 200 and international firms, especially Amsterdam and Brussels. As The Am Law Daily noted last month, Jones Day has followed the opening of an office in Düsseldorf earlier this year by preparing to launch in Amsterdam in early 2013. The Dutch office will be Jones Day’s 10th in Europe and 38th worldwide, according to a firm press release.
Legal Week reports that Osborne Clarke, which is currently in merger talks with rival British firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, is planning a new base in Brussels sometime early next year after scrapping an alliance with local firm De Wolf & Partners.