Swooping into the UK Market: Alston & Bird open its first UK office

October 14, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

US law firm, Alston & Bird, launches its first London office.

What does this mean?

In a bid to become a transatlantic finance and payments powerhouse, Alston & Bird has launched an office in London. Following a boom in the UK payments sector, the US firm has hired seven lawyers, including three partners, to launch the new office. The aim of the venture is to create a link between the financial capitals of New York and London.

The Atlanta-headquartered firm boasts revenues of around £650 million, and high-profile clients, such as Amazon, the Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft and Starbucks.

What's the big picture effect?

While the firm has over 800 lawyers in 12 offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and now the UK, it still has limited international presence. In reality, a majority of its 12 offices are situated in the US. Alston & Bird currently has no plans to build a full-service office in London. Rather, the new office is set to focus on servicing payments and finance clients in Europe.

In 2011, the Brussels office was launched to further the firm’s payment systems practice. With the launch of the London office, Alston & Bird’s payment systems practice will be stronger than ever before in Europe. The firm’s chairman and managing partner, Richard Hays, comments “Our London office reflects the strength of our global finance and payment systems practices”.

Despite the prevalence of US law firms in London, most have struggled to crack the stronghold that domestic firms have on UK corporate relationships. US firms, like Alston & Bird, have invested heavily in London over the last decade. However, only two US law firms advise more than one FTSE 100 client. While Baker McKenzie leads the way for US firms with 3 clients, Slaughter and May advises 33 FTSE 100 companies. With that being said, firms like Baker McKenzie are now aligning their strategies with that of the Magic Circle, hoping to eventually strengthen their brand to become viable competition. Will Alston & Bird someday be able to build their payments services sector enough to rival that of the UK Magic Circle? It remains to be seen whether Alston & Bird will find their wings.

Report written by Sarina Johal

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