UK’s gunnercooke debuts in US with New York office launch

Dispersed firm hires local boutique co-founder to head first base outside Europe having grown revenue 50% in 2021

New York managing partner Noreen Weiss Image courtesy of Gunnercooke

Leading UK dispersed law firm gunnercooke has moved outside Europe for the first time with the launch of an office in New York. 

The new base will be led by Noreen Weiss, who has joined gunnercooke as US chair and New York managing partner from local corporate boutique MacDonald Weiss, which she co-founded. 

Weiss brings more than 25 years of experience to her new firm and earlier served as senior counsel at HBO and an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Her practice spans corporate, M&A, securities and commercial law, with specialisms in cross border expansion and transactions, capital formation and the evolving law around new technologies.

Darryl Cooke, co-founder of gunnercooke, said he was “delighted” that Weiss would be spearheading the firm’s growth efforts across the US. 

“We have always had global growth ambitions, and we feel the time is right to bring our innovative model, progressive culture and flexible way of working to the largest legal market in the world,” he added. 

Gunnercooke is ranked by legal rankings guide The Legal 500 in areas including trade finance, pensions, banking and finance, employment, real estate and private client and counts BAE Systems, Santander UK and Jet2 among its more than 25,000 clients. 

Since it was founded in 2010 as a challenger firm by Cooke, former head of corporate at Hill Dickinson, and in-house veteran Sarah Goulbourne, gunnercooke has grown to become an established corporate and commercial firm and currently has 300 partners across 12 offices. The firm’s partners are required to have at least 10,000 hours of practising experience, while its lawyers work on a fixed-fee basis, meaning work is scoped from the outset and cost certainty is guaranteed. 

Weiss commented: “Gunnercooke is one of the fastest growing multi-jurisdictional law firms and I’m excited to launch the New York office which is the firm’s entry point to North America."

The firm increased revenue by 50% in 2021 to £48m and marked its first international expansion at the end of 2020 when it added DWF executive partner Wolfgang Richter to open an office in Berlin. 

Richter subsequently opened three more German offices in Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich, while earlier this year the firm also added Budapest-based Miklos Orban as CTO to lead a new legaltech arm in Europe.  

The New York launch makes gunnercooke the latest UK firm to build its presence in the US, with Magic Circle firms Allen & Overy (A&O), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Clifford Chance (CC) among those investing there. 

A&O’s US push has seen it set up shop in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Boston since March last year, bringing its stateside office count to six. And the investment appears to be paying off, with the firm saying an ‘exceptional’ US performance contributed more than half of the 10% revenue growth it saw in the year ending 30 April, when fee income hit £1.94bn. 

Meantime, Freshfields opened an office in Silicon Valley in summer 2020 after hiring five partners from a quartet of US rivals, marking the firm’s third US base after New York and Washington DC. 

And Linklaters and CC both made senior lateral hires from US firms in June, with Linklaters hiring regulatory partner Donald Waack in Washington DC from Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Clifford Chance securing Paul Hastings funds counsel Vadim Avdeychik in New York.

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