March 26, 2012 6:00 AM

Clyde Hires Five-Lawyer Insurance Team to Boost San Francisco Office

Posted by Chris Johnson

London-based insurance firm Clyde Co is set to bolster its West Coast presence with the addition of a two-partner team from Tucker Ellis West—including name partner and San Francisco office head Kim West—The Am Law Daily has learned.

West is due to join Clyde’s 40-lawyer San Francisco base Monday alongside fellow partner William Lutz, who is relocating from Los Angeles, senior counsel Alec Boyd, and two associates.

The new arrivals specialize in financial institutions and directors and officers liability insurance. Clyde management board member James Burns says the hires will add “considerable weight” to the 270-partner firm’s global practices in those areas.

As of Friday, West and Lutz’s bios had already been removed from the Tucker website, but cached versions of the pages show that both worked on insurance disputes stemming from the collapses of Enron and WorldCom. Both partners also have experience in coverage litigation.

Tucker did not immediately respond to The Am Law Daily’s request for comment.

West says the team was drawn to Clyde by the firm’s international network, as well as by the lack of conflicts that comes with working at a dedicated insurance firm.

“Many complex, high-exposure [financial institutions] and [directors and officers] claims have a multi-jurisdictional element,” he says. “The broad international reach and depth of Clyde Co provide an unsurpassed platform for representing the interests of my clients…without the conflicts present at other firms.”

The Tucker hires follow the arrival of Squire Sanders counsel and insurance litigator David Gabianelli, who joined Clyde’s San Francisco office as a partner earlier this month. Following the latest additions, Clyde now has nine partners based in the city, and more than 150 lawyers in the U.S. and Canada in total.

Having first lauched its U.S. operation in 2006, Clyde has established a strong foothold in the American insurance market. While much of the firm’s work is confidential, one case it is currently handling that is public involves its representation of various professional liability insurers in a $200 million New York state court action brought by J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. over mutual fund market-timing and late-trading. New York insurance litigation partner Edward Kirk is leading the firm’s effort on the matter.

Alongside San Francisco, Clyde has also opened offices in New York, New Jersey and—following its merger last summer with Canadian insurance boutique Nicholl Paskell-Mede—Toronto and Montreal. While its U.S. revenue rose 37 percent in the last fiscal year, the firm is budgeting for an even more impressive 50 percent growth in North American revenue this year, with Burns adding that the U.S. practice “continues to go from strength to strength.” (Click here for more details of Clyde’s U.S. expansion.)

Last November, Clyde merged with its major London rival Barlow Lyde Gilbert to become the world’s largest specialist insurance firm. (The merger, the largest ever completed between two U.K. law firms, was the subject of a feature story in the October 2011 issue of The American Lawyer.) It employs 1,300 attorneys across 27 offices throughout Europe, Asia, the United States, and South America.

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