Bird & Bird, a large British law firm that cheekily uses the marketing moniker “Two Birds,” is poised to set up shop in the Bay Area next year after relocating two partners from London and Milan.
Stefano Silvestri, co-head of Bird & Bird’s international corporate group, will head to the firm’s new representative office in San Francisco from Milan, while intellectual property partner Nick Aries will make the move from London. The outpost, the first by Bird & Bird in the U.S., will focus on work for technology clients.
Silvestri has been a partner at Bird & Bird since 2008, while Aries was promoted to partner last year. The duo will work with technology and communications partner Roger Bickerstaff and international employment head Ian Hunter, who will remain based in London but support the development of Bird & Bird’s new San Francisco base.
While the new office will not offer U.S. legal advice, Bird & Bird CEO David Kerr said it will help the firm to build up its “best friend” relationships with U.S. firms. In a press release, Bird & Bird said its San Francisco locale will be “a platform for partnering with U.S. law firms to provide global coverage for clients.”
Kerr, a longtime leader at Bird & Bird, said his firm has historically worked with just two or three firms stateside.
“U.S. companies are being hit with major international changes such as the General Data Protection Regulation, the Trade Secrets Directive and the Digital Single Market reforms from Europe, and we are also seeing technology drive their transactional activity more and more,” he said. “This on-the-ground presence enables us to offer a heightened level of support to clients as they tackle these challenges head on.”
While Bird & Bird is not planning to grow its San Francisco office into a full-service offering, the firm does expect to increase its local head count.
“From talking to people in the market, we think there is a big demand for this,” Kerr said. “We are ambitious and do see it building out.”
Bird & Bird currently has 28 offices throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with its most recent launch coming in Luxembourg in January 2016. Earlier this year, Kerr told London-based Legal Week that the firm was “very keen” on continuing to build up its presence in new countries, specifically citing North Africa and South America as potential targets for expansion.
In mid-July, leading Irish firm Matheson announced plans to open an office in San Francisco after hiring privacy and technology partner Chris Bollard from Dublin-based rival Arthur Cox.