Wednesday 18 September 2019 6:05 pm

Major US law firm launches first office in 'exciting and remarkable' London

US law firm Alston & Bird launched an office in London today in a bid to build a transatlantic finance and payments powerhouse.

Finance partner Andrew Petersen said Alston & Bird’s management: “Firmly believe that London, with everything going on, is the place to be and I think that’s incredibly exciting for London.”  

The Atlanta-headquartered firm, which had revenue of $812m (£650m) last year, has hired seven lawyers – including three partners – to launch the new office.

Read more: City’s elite Magic Circle law firms under pressure from expansion of US entrants

Petersen, who joined from the London office of US firm K&L Gates, said the firm’s aim was to “develop a seamless link between New York and London.

“They have been growing New York as well and that was a big attraction for us, we want the finance group to have the same deep bench on both sides of the pond.”

Petersen said the firm took Brexit into account when planning to open its office, but said: “Notwithstanding Brexit this is still a really exciting and remarkable city to do business in.”

Petersen has been joined by fellow K&L Gates finance partner James Spencer and competition and payments partner James Ashe-Taylor who joins from US firm Constantine Cannon.

Read more: US law firms struggling to displace UK elite in FTSE boardrooms

The office will be led by Alston & Bird payments partner, Rich Willis, who also leads the firm’s Brussels base.

The firm’s hometown, Atlanta, is a US payments powerhouse, responsible for processing roughly 70 per cent of US card transactions.

Alston & Bird’s payments systems head Duncan Douglass said London’s strength in payments and fintech was a key attraction for the firm.

“With the UK consolidating its position as a world leader in digital banking and other payments channels, both Rich and James strengthen our London offering as a leading platform from which to advise clients on transactions, product development, and regulatory issues related to retail and wholesale payments systems and products.”