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A&O defies coronavirus turbulence to lure back New York litigation partner

 Allen & Overy has not let market turmoil wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic get in the way of its US recruitment ambitions, having re-hired IP litigation partner Paul Keller from Norton Rose Fulbright in New York. 

The move, announced today (30 March), comes as part of its strategy to accelerate investment into its US business after its failure to merge with O’Melveny & Myers last year. It is the third US hire announced in a week after adding Billy Jacobson and Jonathan Lopez, both veterans of the fraud section of the US Department of Justice, from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in Washington DC. 

The hires come at a time of significant flux for A&O as it looks to transition leadership and also when firms are scaling back strategic recruitment as the global coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Gareth Price is preparing to take the managing partner baton from Andrew Ballheimer on 1 May to join incumbent senior partner WimDejonghe at the helm.  The hires are in line with Ballheimer’svow last September to approach US investments with ‘more focus and speed of execution’ than the firm had previously delivered.

Keller originally joined A&O in 2010 and left in 2015 for NRF, where he became head of the New York intellectual property disputes group and co-head of the autonomous vehicle international business group.  His practice is mainly focused on patent and trade secret matters in automotive and fintech. 

Tim House, A&O’s US senior partner, said: ‘As we further build out our US IP litigation practice, starting with Paul’s hire, A&O will be the only firm to offer scaled and high-quality capabilities in each of China, Europe, and the US, which represent the three most important IP markets in the world.’ 

Keller added: ‘Although the timing of this move is unusual given all that surrounds Covid-19, the changes and innovations that will likely take place because of the current crisis may match, if not surpass, those stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.  Healthcare, transport, energy, finance, consumer and retail sectors, as well as many other areas, will all be impacted.  Allen & Overy is not only uniquely positioned to assist clients through this turbulent time but also with the disruption and opportunities that are likely to follow.’