Clydes set to ramp up US presence with fire-sale deal for up to 25 Sedgwick West Coast partners

Clyde & Co has hired two Sedgwick partners in San Francisco and is in talks to bring in up to 23 more partners from the firm across the West Coast, Legal Week understands.

Insurance litigators Bruce Celebrezze and Alexander Potente will join Clydes in San Francisco in January.

The UK insurance leader is in talks to bring on around half of Sedgwick’s West Coast partners, including teams in Orange County and Los Angeles.

In addition to discussions with teams in these West Coast offices, Clydes is also understood to be in talks with individual partners in other parts of the US.

Sedgwick announced last month that it would be shuttering operations early in 2018 following a deluge of partner exits. The firm has lost more than 40% of its lawyers within the past year, according to ALM Legal Intelligence. It has about 50 partners left in the West Coast.

Other US partners to have left in recent months include a group of Sedgwick employment lawyers in San Francisco led by practice co-chairs James Brown and Robert Eassa who quit for Duane Morris in November.

Their exits, along with Celebrezze and Potente, leave 28 partners in Sedgwick San Francisco whose next moves still need to be confirmed, according to the firm’s website.

Sedgwick also has about four partners left in London, where insurance partner Naomi Vary and indemnity partner Karen Morrish are set to join RPC. Other firms in the running to take on Sedgwick partners in London include Clydes and DAC Beachcroft.

The London office operates as a separate limited liability partnership to the US arm of the firm. It is is led by insurance partner Edward Smerdon, who is also an at-large member of Sedgwick’s executive committee.

In July, Clydes opened its ninth office in the US, with a launch in Los Angeles. The new office launched with insurance partner Julie Hawkinson, who was one of the founding partners of the firm’s San Francisco office in 2008, and new hire Jim Koelzer, who joined from US litigation firm Robins Kaplan.

This followed Clydes opening offices in Chicago and Washington DC in February with the hire of 10 partners from US law firm Troutman Sanders. That team included Troutman’s Chicago managing partner, Eileen Bower, who now heads Clydes’ office in the city.

A Clyde & Co spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear the news of Sedgwick’s closure. We know many of its lawyers and hold them in high regard. In line with our own growth potential in the US, we are in advanced discussions with a number of its insurance partners, predominantly in California, about the possibility of them joining us. It would not be appropriate to comment further while discussions are ongoing.”