23 Jun 2022

Ashurst to open in Texas as it targets US projects work

Third US office sets out to tap market opportunities fuelled by investment in infrastructure

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Ashurst has announced plans to open an office in Austin, Texas, its third in the US.

The new office will be led by partner Wes Strickland, who joined the firm from Holland & Knight’s Austin office last October. It will be the Anglo-Australian firm's third in the US after New York and Los Angeles. 

Strickland is a projects lawyer who specialises in advising private water utility companies.

His hire was in line with the firm’s strategy of building a projects practice in the US – where its presence remains small – that complements its acknowledged strengths in other regions, notably Australia.

The firm launched in Los Angeles in 2020 when transport and social infrastructure specialist Anna Hermelin relocated from Japan to set it up.

The Austin office will allow Strickland will to split his practice between Los Angeles and Austin.

Paul Jenkins, Ashurst’s global CEO, said: “By expanding our geographic footprint and providing an agile working environment for our lawyers in each of our US offices, our team is well-equipped to continue to meet the significant client demand in this area.”

Strickland spent almost three years at Holland & Knight in Austin before moving to LA with Ashurst. He also previously spent just over five years with Jackson Walker in Austin and more than a decade at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, including five years with legacy firm Hatch & Parent before its merger with Brownstein in 2008.

Anna Hermelin said: “With plans for major investment in infrastructure development over the next five years, establishing a small branch office in Austin allows us to further capitalise on the significant market opportunities and provides a collaborative work space for our US lawyers to continue to meet client demand.”

To date, like most international law firms based outside the US, Ashurst has dipped its toe in the US market and lists just 33 lawyers on its website, including eight in LA.

Projects is also one of the practice areas Allen & Overy has been targeting during a sustained period of US expansion that has seen it open offices in LA, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Boston.

The expansion began in March last year, when it launched in LA with the hire of a highly-rated six-partner US project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

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