New York’s impenetrable legal community is well used to seeing – and rebuffing – the advances of UK law firms but Osborne Clarke (OC) is attempting a more tactical sashay into downtown Manhattan to cultivate its core TMT client base.
The 500-lawyer UK law firm is today (28 October) officially launching a branch in New York in the city’s creative and digital district of Soho. The unusual venture is the top 30 UK law firm’s second branch in the US following the launch of an outpost in Palo Alto in 2001, which was set up to build links with technology and venture capital clients.
The office will primarily provide UK legal advice to European clients who have moved into New York or US clients looking to position themselves in Europe as well as developing relationships with investors. The branch will run on a flexible basis with 12 partners and associate directors, with two or more partners on the ground at any given time, rotating every seven to ten days.
The office is expected to focus on US advertising and digital business sectors. The initial team will include London managing partner and US relationships head Andrew Saul, TMT partner and London office founder Tim Birt and digital business sector head Adrian Bott. The line-up is among OC’s most prominent corporate and TMT practitioners.
Birt, who has overseen the project, said: ‘We see the New York office as a platform for growth, providing a vital link with our West Coast and European offices. This office gives our clients access to a major global market. OC has a strong track record in corporate legal advice especially on transatlantic VC and M&A transactions. With a team on the ground in New York we will be able to capitalise on our expertise and be on-hand for our clients as and when they need our advice. We work with companies who are based in North America, but whose business activities involve expansion or investment into Northern Europe.’
Even avoiding a hugely expensive move into US law, the cost of maintaining an office in one of the most desirable areas of Manhattan will be a substantial investment for the 160-partner practice. The Bristol-bred OC has been engaged in a period of sustained international growth, having this year launched branches in Brussels and Paris. The firm is expected to keep investing across its practices in France, Italy and Germany over the next 12 months.
Managing partner Simon Beswick said the firm’s international expansion plans stem from a more optimistic economic outlook. The firm saw revenues rise 14% to £112m at the end of last financial year, after the firm in 2012 formally merged with its Spanish and Italian alliance firms under a Swiss verein umbrella. Discounting the revenue generated by the firm’s new offices, OC saw like-for-like turnover dip by 1% from £98m in 2011/12 to £97m in 2012/13.
Let’s hope the New York creatives are feeling generous.