Anglo-German legal giant Taylor Wessing is preparing to invade the U.S.
The 900-lawyer firm, known primarily for its IP, media and telecommunications work, announced Monday that it would open two representative offices in New York and Palo Alto in September. Taylor Wessing plans to relocate four corporate technology partners to its new North American outposts, which will not practice U.S. law but serve to connect current U.S. clients on their initiatives abroad with the firm’s main base of operations in Europe.
Mike Turner, the head of Taylor Wessing’s technology, media and communications industry group in the U.K., will now split his time between New York and London. Heading to Palo Alto are Taylor Wessing corporate technology partners Mark Barron in London, Kai Westerwelle in Frankurt and associate Dennis Tan in Singapore.
“With the opening of our new representative offices in Palo Alto and New York, we fulfill the increasing need of U.S. companies for competent on-site advice with respect to their target markets in Europe, [Central and Eastern Europe] and Asia,” said a statement by Westerwelle, who will now cochair Taylor Wessing’s U.S. group with Barron. “Furthermore, we support international clients in realizing their U.S. strategies. Thus, after the successful expansions in Europe and Asia, this step into the [U.S.] is another milestone in the internationalization of Taylor Wessing.”
Last month Taylor Wessing added South Korean firm DR & AJU to its Asian association network, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer, which also reported last year on Taylor Wessing becoming the latest foreign firm to ink an association agreement in Indonesia. Taylor Wessing—formed through a 2002 merger between the U.K.’s Taylor Joynson Garrett and Germany’s Wessing & Berenberg Gossler—also picked up a presence in Singapore two years ago by forming an alliance with local shop RHT Law. (That same year Taylor Wessing absorbed Austria-based ENWC to expand its operations in Central and Eastern Europe.)
In heading to New York and Silicon Valley, Taylor Wessing becomes the latest large European firm to dip its toes into the U.S. legal market. The Am Law Daily reported late last year on London-based Olswang’s opening of an office in New York, a city where the U.K.’s Magic Circle has had some difficulties in recent years, as noted at the time in a feature story by The American Lawyer. (Osborne Clarke also opened an office in San Francisco earlier this year.)
But unlike its Magic Circle competitors, at the moment Taylor Wessing is looking to service its current clients rather than compete with larger U.S. firms for new work. U.K. publication Legal Week reports that Taylor Wessing lawyers will cycle through the firm’s new New York base to provide on-the-ground assistance to current clients, whereas the Palo Alto outpost will be more fully staffed.
Barron told Legal Week that his firm currently has no immediate plans to open additional U.S. offices or practice local law, nor is it seeking to formalize ties with any U.S. firms. Taylor Wessing’s opening in New York and Palo Alto will come nearly six years after it settled a dispute with Am Law 100 firm Nixon Peabody over the latter’s hire of 13 partners in Paris.
Taylor Wessing retained the infamous Marc Dreier in the summer of 2008 for a $5 million suit against Nixon Peabody in an upstate New York court over the lateral hires made by the Rochester-based firm following the collapse of merger talks with Taylor Wessing, according to our previous reports. At issue in the litigation were nonsolicitation agreements signed by Nixon Peabody, but that a judge took issue with on the grounds that they restricted where lawyers could service their clients.
Earlier this month, Taylor Wessing reported that gross revenue from its U.K. operations rose 7.4 percent, to roughly $190 million during the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to U.K. publication The Lawyer.