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A&O opens in Boston as Simmons launches in Silicon Valley

UK firms have made significant moves stateside, with Allen & Overy and Simmons & Simmons announcing the opening of new US offices.

Allen & Overy’s US expansion project appears set to continue. With a new office in Boston set to open following the arrival of a five-partner group from Goodwin. The firm, which has been recruiting across numerous US practice areas since the collapse of the planned merger with O’Melveny & Myers, welcomed the new partners into its intellectual property litigation practice, significantly bolstering its offering in the life sciences industry. Elizabeth Holland will join the New York office and is set to become the head of the US life sciences practice, with Bill James joining the firm in Washington.

The new Boston office is set to be established by the additions of John Bennett, Nick Mitrokostas and Daniel Margolis, all of whom bring experience of litigation in life sciences.

Speaking to Legal Business, US senior partner Tim House explained the firm’s vision for the new office: ‘If you want to be playing in the life sciences sector, whether it’s litigation or anything else, there is tremendous advantage in being in Boston, which is a centre of excellence. It’s a replication actually of what we did on the tech side in relation to Silicon Valley. We brought in a tech team, specifically to infuse the firm with more tech capability. Where do we go from here in Boston? Elizabeth has been very influential already in saying the best way to approach your life sciences clients, as with any client sector, is holistically. It would make very good sense for us to be looking in the Boston market for that PE, M&A and life sciences transaction capability as well.’

The strengthening of the life science practice is redolent of moves made in other areas, and further signifies A&O ambitions in the US. House said: ‘It’s all got this underlying theme, which is:  we’ve got the ready-built network in the rest of the world. In areas of expertise and in sectors where the demand is global and efficiencies can be achieved for clients by global co-ordination in a single firm, let’s put the US piece in place and have it in scale and world-class quality. The next moves we expect are: M&A and private equity on the East Coast; M&A in northern California; and building out the depth in our wider litigation practice.’


Elsewhere, Simmons & Simmons announced the opening of its first US office, with the new Silicon Valley practice poised to open in May.

The new office, which will not practise US law, follows the introduction of a Shenzhen practice in 2019 and signifies the overarching strategy of the firm to establish itself as a significant presence on the international tech market.

Speaking to Legal Business, head of TMT Alex Brown said: ‘We put a lot of focus in in building up the Asia practice, especially China. China is close to rivalling the US now in terms of its global importance to the TMT market. We opened an office in Shenzhen in 2019 and were the first western law firm to do so, but we still had a gap in relation to the US.’

Situated in San Francisco, the office is to be headed by new recruit Emily Jones. Having spent the previous five years leading Osborne Clarke’s practice in the area, Jones specialises in technology and data privacy and will oversee a practice focused on serving US TMT clients.

Jones said: ‘Having spent the last five years building my client base and reputation in Silicon Valley, working closely with companies as they expand outside the US and gaining valuable experience and understanding of the issues and challenges that are most important to them, I am ideally placed to represent Simmons on the US West Coast. It’s a time of tremendous growth and innovation in the technology market and Silicon Valley remains the focal point of this activity.’

Though the office will be a ‘relatively small unit’ according to Brown, the firm’s ambition is clear. ‘We’ll be going after the full gamut of TMT clients, from the fast-growing, early-stage companies to the big technology companies, and Emily will certainly help with that. Actually, where I see really exciting stuff happening is with the smaller, faster growing US-based businesses that are exploding and looking to get into Europe, Asia and the Middle East.’