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International moves: Kennedys in double office launch as Bird & Bird plans San Francisco base

Top-50 insurance specialist Kennedys has made an ambitious bid to further increase its global footprint, today (2 October) announcing the opening of new offices in Paris and Bangkok.

With the launches in France and Thailand, Kennedys has brought its tally of new international offices opened this year to nine.

The Paris outpost is led by a four-partner team hired from French litigation boutique BOPS Avocats and focuses on insurance disputes.

Co-founder and the former senior partner of BOPS Avocats, Christian Bouckaert, is heading the new Paris office, alongside partners Alexis Valençon, Aurélia Cadain and Nicolas Bouckaert.

Kennedys and BOPS Avocats have a shared history, jointly acting on a number of cross-border cases over the years and also possess a significant overlap in important clients.

Kennedys’ senior partner Nick Thomas (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘A Paris office has been important for us all along. It’s important for us to be where clients want us to be, it’s not simply a case of throwing a dart at a map!’

Outside of Europe, Kennedys has tapped into a major south-east Asian market through its Thailand launch, building on its pre-established presence in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The firm’s new two-partner office in Bangkok also has an insurance litigation element, with the outpost being led by Suraphon Rittipongchusit, a former partner of DLA Piper’s Bangkok insurance and litigation department.

Alongside Rittipongchusit is fellow partner Supreedee Nimitkul, who is a corporate and commercial specialist with over 20 years’ experience. Completing the team is senior associate Tassanu Chutikanon and Ian Johnston, a foreign qualified lawyer who relocates from Kennedy’s Singapore office.

On the Bangkok launch, Thomas added: ‘Clients had told us that there was only one other insurance firm there and that they didn’t have any choice. They wanted the product that we’ve got.’

Despite the Paris office being its first office opening in mainland Europe this year, Kennedys has made serious strides in expanding its global operations throughout 2017. The firm has opened in the US through its merger with insurance firm Carroll McNulty & Kull and also added offices in Australia, Mexico and formed a formal association in Italy.

Meanwhile, Bird & Bird has also revealed plans today to open a representative office in the US.

The new hub, based in San Francisco, will advise clients on international disputes, intellectual property and data privacy issues.

David Kerr, chief executive of Bird & Bird, told Legal Business: ‘We have seen a huge request from clients to have lawyers in that time zone and we think that demand is growing.’