A&O to open up in Washington DC with hire of O'Melveny team

Allen & Overy (A&O) is to open its second office in the US, with the firm set to launch in Washington DC next month through a team hire from O’Melveny & Myers.

The magic circle firm will open in Washington on 18 July with the hire of O’Melveny financial regulatory partners Barbara Stettner and Chris Salter and counsel Charles Borden, who will join A&O as a partner.

A&O’s US banking head David Slade will relocate from New York to become Washington managing partner, with the firm expecting to have 12 associates in place when the office opens, including a number expected to join from O’Melveny.

While the office will initially focus on regulatory advice, in the longer term A&O plans to add capacity in securities enforcement, banking, derivatives, project finance, anti-bribery and corruption, international arbitration, antitrust and intellectual property.

Senior partner David Morley said: “Washington DC has been a strategic priority for some time but it was important to find the right team. If it is important to our clients, then it is important to us. Washington is not just the regulatory capital of the US, it also has a deep talent pool of good lawyers. It is important to note that this is a long-term investment for us and we intend to significantly grow the office going forward.”

A&O US managing partner Kevin O’Shea added: “In the post-Dodd-Frank environment, providing senior-level regulatory advice to our clients is increasingly crucial. The regulatory playing field for both US and international financial institutions has been radically and permanently altered, resulting in new challenges to these entities. Barbara, Chris and Charles provide further support to address the needs of our clients.”

A&O opened in New York in 1985 and the office now has 175 lawyers in total. The Washington launch will mark the firm’s 38th office worldwide, including three openings last year in Sydney, Perth and Qatar.

Magic circle rivals Clifford Chance (CC) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer both already have offices in Washington DC, with CC counting 40 lawyers in total and Freshfields’ base housing around 30. Freshfields launched in Washington in 1998 while CC’s legacy firm Rogers & Wells opened in 1949.