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‘We have seen the potential pitfalls’: Ropes & Gray relocates to double office size due to City growth

Ropes & Gray is set to relocate to 1 New Ludgate, almost double its current office space, on the back of a rising headcount and expanding practice areas.

The firm will move its City headquarters from 5 New Street Square, where the firm was a sub-tenant of Taylor Wessing, to the new pre-let 45,210 square foot space from Land Securities, on a twenty-year lease in September 2015. The new office can accommodate up to 180 lawyers and Ropes confirmed it plans to grow to between 120-150 lawyers by 2017.

The decision to upsize comes as the firm aims to balance the London office’s practice groups, become better aligned with its US practice offering.

‘We have seen the potential pitfalls of growing a US firm in London and learnt. The full service is a busted model – clients don’t want that. We outsource employment and pensions,’ said Maurice Allen, Ropes & Gray’s London senior partner.

The firm expects London revenues to be up 35% this year, an increase of five percentage points from last year. The firm now currently offers corporate and private equity; finance (including banking and high-yield); funds formation; tax and regulatory; asset management; and restructuring (including distressed assets).

‘When we first came into London, our aim was to establish three core business areas: private equity, finance, and funds and restructuring. We are now conscious to build a balanced practice that can serve a mix of clients including banking clients and private equity funds,’ added Allen.

The firm is also looking to boost its tax and real estate offering, as its funds and private equity groups continue to expand. Ropes made a significant hire in August this year when it hired heavyweight private equity partner Phil Sanderson from Travers Smith, and last year recruited former Allen & Overy finance partner Mark Wesseldine from Fried Frank in May. However, the firm lost high-yield expert Jonathan Bloom who quit to join rival US firm Jones Day’s London office in September 2014, although he was the only partner to leave the firm’s office this year.

Ropes’ London office is only four years old and ranks 16th in Legal Business’ Global London list. In that time the firm has grown from setting up with four lawyers to over 80 and around 40 other members of staff. In 2012, total London office headcount was 97, which has almost doubled to 145 in 2014. Partner headcount during the same period has grown 33% from 18 to 24, while associate total has risen 42% from 43 to 61.

Mike Goetz, London managing partner at Ropes & Gray, said: ‘The physical location of the new premises gives us a fantastic vantage point for our client base. It is perfectly located between both the financial centre of The City of London and the funds community predominately based in-and-around Mayfair.’