Am Law 200 Firms, Smaller Shops Set Sights on New Horizons
As summer draws to a close, vacations come to an end, and the kids go back to school, many lawyers are on the move as Am Law 200 firms and some smaller shops expand into new regions, either through mergers or lateral hires.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, a 650-lawyer Am Law 100 labor and employment firm based out of Greenville, South Carolina, announced last week the opening of an office in London following its hire of partner Richard Linskell and two associates from British firm Speechly Bircham, according to sibling publication the Daily Report.
Last November Ogletree first unveiled plans to expand its international platform, a move that resulted in the opening of the firm’s first European outpost in Berlin after hiring a three-lawyer partner team from Salans, which was in the process of undergoing a three-way merger to form what is now Dentons.
At the time, the man tapped to head Ogletree’s London office was Michael Dixon, a cofounder of Webster Dixon, the first firm in the U.K. capital to be founded by black lawyers. But Dixon never became the managing partner of a new London base for Ogletree, which now has 45 offices around the world.
Dixon, who remains a partner at Webster Dixon, did not respond to a request for comment about his decision not to join Ogletree. A spokesman for the Am Law 100 firm told The Am Law Daily that Webster “decided to pursue his career elsewhere and we wish him every success.”
London-based commercial litigation and arbitration boutique Hage Aaronson, which made legal headlines earlier this year by picking up the U.K. tax practice of Dorsey & Whitney, is another firm expanding its horizons.
Hage Aaronson announced this week that it would change its name to Joseph Hage Aaronson after inking a tie-up with New York City’s Gregory P. Joseph Law Offices, a firm whose namesake is a former longtime head of litigation at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.
Gregory Joseph left Fried Frank to form his own firm in 2001, but has continued handling big cases, including helping Citigroup preserve a $245 million win last year in a credit default swap suit against Morgan Stanley and its lawyers from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Joseph’s firm will now have an exclusive referral relationship with Hage Aaronson.
MJ Hudson, a London-based firm whose founding by former SJ Berwin, O’Melveny & Myers, and Proskauer Rose private equity partner Matthew Hudson was covered by The Am Law Daily in 2010, announced a merger this month with offshore shop VerrasLaw, which is based in the British Channel Island tax haven of Jersey. The deal marks a rare tie-up between an onshore and offshore firm, according to U.K. publication The Lawyer.
Elsewhere abroad, Dentons has launched its second office in Kazakhstan by opening in the country’s sparkling new capital of Astana, a city that recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of its founding with several new projects dedicated to longtime Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. Dentons will relocate newly promoted partner Birzhan Zharasbayev from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s capital until 1997, to head up its base in Astana.