Sunday 10 November 2019 3:31 pm

US law firm launches in London and plans UK expansion ‘because of Brexit’

A US law firm has launched in London to take advantage of the weakness of the pound triggered by Brexit.

Tully Rinckey received regulatory approval to operate in the UK during the summer and has opened its first office in Mayfair.

The firm – which opened its first international outpost in Ireland in 2018 – is also weighing offices in Scotland, Northern Ireland and regional English cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol.

Founding partner Matthew Tully told City A.M.: “The primary reason we are expanding into the UK is because of Brexit. The weakness of the pound has made the ability to open in the UK extremely affordable compared to five or six years ago.”

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European chief operating officer Barry Crushell said the UK would remain a vital market for US corporates regardless of what happened with Brexit.

“Are we concerned? Yes there are concerns, the uncertainty is concerning,” Crushell said. “[But] regardless of what form Brexit takes the UK will always be a strategic location for US companies.”

The firm is targeting practices such as corporate, employment, immigration and intellectual property with the aim of acting for US clients looking to expand internationally as well as UK and Irish businesses aiming to grow in the US.

It is aiming to work for mid-tier clients with revenue of $5m to $500m (£391m) and will look to open offices outside London to service those markets and take advantage of lower overheads.

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“What we are trying to do in the UK and Ireland is replicate what we did in the US: provide London-quality legal services in the outer areas and give clients in Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Belfast the ability to reach, not only London, but back to New York and Washington DC.” Tully said.

“We anticipate hourly rates as low as £150 to £350-£400 which is anywhere from a half-to-a third of what other US law firms are charging,” he added.

The firm is much smaller than most US law firms that have opened UK offices, with revenue of around $36m and about 170 employees.

Tully said the firm was expanding rapidly internationally to cater for an expected growth in demand for international legal services from mid-tier clients.

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“In the future the practice of law will be an international operation, with the amount of international travel there is naturally going to be a flow of global economic activity unlike anything we have seen in the last 50 years. I am trying to position our firm at the leading edge of the mid-tier market.

“Why should you have to pay £1000 an hour to get an attorney who can advise you on matters in Asia, Africa and North America? To me that’s just gluttony.”

The firm is also planning to expand into Asia and the Middle East over the next couple of years.

“We will have a Dubai office later on this year and we plan to have a Singapore office in early 2021 and a Hong Kong or Tokyo office after that,” Tully said.