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Law Firms from Philadelphia Increasing Presence Internationally
Jonathan Angell decided to move to the London office of Dechert LLP four years ago from a British law firm. Dechert is headquartered in Philadelphia and Angell can now perform work on cross-border transactions, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"National identities have become less important," said Angell, a Dechert partner. "There is discussion from time to time. What are we? We have people here from different jurisdictions. It feels quite like an English firm, but at the same time it is a very international firm."

Nine international offices have been added by Dechert since 2007. There are 925 lawyers working for the firm, with one-third of them working in offices overseas. Back in 2008, only 20 percent of the lawyer ranks were working internationally.

Henry Nassau is a partner at Dechert who is the manager of the corporate practice in University City in Philadelphia. "You always have some part of the globe that is surprisingly busy."
 
Nassau said that the firm has begun handling transactions between clients outside of the United States who do not want to talk to anyone working at the firm in its U.S. office.



"Increasingly, someone in Beijing wants to talk to someone in Almaty," without U.S involvement, Nassau said.

The first international office for Dechert opened in 1968 in Brussels. Then, in 1970, the London office was opened by former chairman Bart Winokur.

In 2012, Morgan Lewis & Bockius almost doubled its lawyer count overseas when it acquired 60 lawyers from Dewey & LeBoeuf, which was moving towards bankruptcy. Morgan has 1,400 lawyers in the United States and abroad right now. Morgan was able to add lawyers from Dewey in Moscow, Almaty and London.

A partner at Morgan, Steven Wall, is in charge of the practice groups at the firm.

"There will be a global brand and the identity will be driven by the perception of the client who you are working for, which part of the Morgan elephant you touch," Wall said.

"Our aspiration is to be a brand but to be accessible to companies of all sizes. You can be a middle-market company in Reading and your view of Morgan Lewis will be more shaped by the fact that Morgan has 300 lawyers in Philadelphia."

Sean Geraghty is a partner at the Dechert office in London.

"The whole landscape has a little more solidity now," Geraghty said. "Banks appear to be slowly agreeing to lend money again and sellers who have gotten through the last five years without being a distressed seller or gone bankrupt now have gotten to the position of saying we can now think about that deal we were thinking about a few years ago."


02-21-2014

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