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Instant Insights / Big Law Bonanza as Firms Add Locations

The new year got off to a bang with a wave of law firms opening offices here and abroad. Asia is a popular destination for growth as is Boston and Ireland. Of course, 2018 isn’t without its closures so far—Troutman Sanders shut down three overseas offices and Norton Rose Fulbright closed two more—but many firms are in expansion mode right now. This Instant Insights spots the trends and pulls them all together.

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The Capitol of Puerto Rico

Kennedys, an insurance-focused firm based in the U.K., has signed an association agreement in Puerto Rico with San Juan-based boutique Colon & Colon.

The deal means that Kennedys, which earlier this year absorbed New Jersey-based Carroll, McNulty & Kull, has within the past 18 months extended its reach to seven new jurisdictions throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

Colon & Colon is an insurance-focused shop with four lawyers, including partners Francisco Colon Pagan and Francisco Mercado Olivero and senior associates Johanna Rivera Cruz and Margarita Rosado Toledo.

“We have many clients in common with Colon & Colon and they have highlighted both the value of a presence in Puerto Rico and the quality of work [Colon Pagan] and his team deliver,” said Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas. “This confirms the experience of our own lawyers’ dealings with Colon & Colon.”

Alex Guillamont, the Miami-based head of Kennedys’ Latin America and the Caribbean practice, added that the agreement with Colon & Colon comes at an opportune time for both firms.

“The aftermath of the hurricane has raised a lot of issues for insurers and reinsurers,” said Guillamont, noting the massive damage to infrastructure and property on the unincorporated U.S. island territory as a result of Hurricane Maria in September. “[Those clients] will benefit from the combination of Colon & Colon’s expertise and Kennedys’ international reach and experience.”

Colon & Colon, founded in 2002 by Colon Pagan, handles work for insurers with a focus on areas such as property and casualty, aviation and marine and cargo.

As for Kennedys, it has been busy in recent weeks scooping up defectors from Sedgwick as the San Francisco-based Am Law 200 firm prepares to dissolve in January. In late October, Kennedys absorbed Sedgwick’s outpost in Bermuda. Earlier this month, Kennedys announced plans to set up shop in Argentina after striking a deal with Buenos Aires-based Alberto Bunge & Associates. The Argentine and Bermuda deals are part of a regional expansion spree that has pushed Kennedys into Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Kennedys has also opened offices this year in Bangkok, Melbourne and Paris, while signing a formal association with Italian boutique Studio Legale Rinaldi Associati. In addition to its Carroll McNulty acquisition, Kennedys has bolted on Manchester, England-based commercial litigation specialist Berg and combined with London-based marine and shipping boutique Waltons & Morse, moves that came after Kennedys’ unsuccessful tie-up talks with U.K. insurance shop Plexus.

For its 2016-17 fiscal year, Kennedys saw its gross revenue rise roughly 8 percent, to £149.9 million ($200.8 million).

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