Shoosmiths hires EY Law's EU competition leader to launch Brussels office

National UK outfit is latest firm to set up shop in Brussels in Brexit's aftermath

Top 40 UK national firm Shoosmiths has hired EY Law's EU competition law leader to launch an office in Brussels, its first overseas base.

Kiran Desai will work alongside Shoosmiths’ head of competition law, Simon Barnes, in his new role. Shoosmiths said the initiative would help it meet clients’ combined UK and EU competition, regulatory and trade law needs.

‘A Brussels presence will enhance Shoosmiths’ ability to provide EU advice which has become an increasingly relevant factor for the firm’s corporate clients in the post Brexit environment’, the firm explained, adding that the move would also improve access to quality talent, particularly in the fields of international trade, competition, EU regulation and privacy and data.

Desai is dual qualified in Belgium and England and Wales law. Prior to his four-year stint at EY,where we was EU competition law leader, he spent almost three decades at Mayer Brown, latterly serving as managing partner of the firm’s Brussels office. He brings experience advising clients on competition law as well as EU regulatory laws and has worked for clients in sectors including air transport, automotive and chemicals with a particular focus on the media and technology sectors.

He will be the only lawyer permanently based at Shoosmiths' new Brussels arm, although the firm said it may grow in the future.

Simon Boss, Shoosmiths’ CEO, said: “The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner and the influence of EU law on international jurisprudence and legal policy is significant.”

Barnes added: “The ongoing government review of the UK’s competition regime, as well as the general increase in transactional activity requiring competition law input, means now is the perfect time to invest further in our competition law practice. Kiran brings with him a breadth and depth of experience that will enhance our offering, both in the UK and at an EU level.”

Shoosmiths joins a string of US firms with long-established London arms committing to a presence in Brussels in recognition of the fact that the UK sits outside the EU's competition law ambit. Last week Fried Frank announced it was opening in Brussels; last year Kirkland & Ellis, Simpson Thacher and Curtis all opened there with Reed Smith setting up shop in 2020.

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