Allen & Overy stands as not only one of the U.K.'s most
prestigious law firms-a pillar of the vaunted Magic Circle-but one
of the largest firms in the world in terms of revenue. From two
U.S. locations in New York and Washington, DC-and 180 U.S.-based
attorneys-the firm continues to make its imprint on the American
map, handling such matters as Nasdaq's audacious bid for the London
A Convenient Abdication
Founders George Allen and Thomas Overy left a firm called Roney
& Co. to open shop in London in 1930 and build a commercial
practice. They brought along their Roney client lists and managed
to drum up enough business to stay afloat, even though Europe was
still recovering from World War I and the United States was
plunging into the Great Depression. It was Allen's representation
of King Edward VIII during his1936 abdication to marry American
Wallis Simpson that really made the firm's name (at the time, no
scandal was bigger). The firm grew in the post-WWII years, but its
leaders soon made their exits: Allen retired in 1953, and Overy
developed health problems that forced him to stop working in 1960.
By then, the firm they'd built had become one of London's most
prominent legal shops.
The dawn of the 1970s brought change and turbulence: A&O
began making inroads in the then-new field of intellectual property
and developing a robust banking practice. It continued to expand
under the guidance of new partners-most notably Jim Thomson, who
had a sterling reputation as a commercial lawyer. In 1971, Thomson
was killed in a car accident; the shock devastated the firm, and
some wondered how it would survive without Thomson's
From London to the World
But survive it did-A&O took advantage of the increasingly
global nature of finance, working on early syndicated loan and
Eurobond transactions and doing business far from its home base in
London. Legend has it that one globetrotting A&O partner
offered an ailing seatmate some stomach medicine on a flight from
the Middle East to London-the man turned out to be a UBS senior
executive who was interested in Eurobond deals, and thus UBS became
an A&O client. By the mid-1990s the firm earned more revenue
from its non-U.K. clients than its domestic clients.
Today A&O has offices and partners in 30 countries, and it
has a network of associate firms that enable it to do business in
100 more nations. Among the sectors it serves are energy and
natural resources, financial services, real estate, life sciences,
insurance, hotels and leisure and communications, media and
technology. And while the firm has a strong U.S.-based practice,
the group border hops: A&O staffs U.S.-qualified attorneys in
the U.S., the U.K., continental Europe and Asia-the better to serve
IN THE NEWS
They're Kind of a Big Deal
Allen & Overy was awarded several "deals of the year"
recognitions in the Americas including, IFLR's Americas M&A
Deal of the Year, Trade Finance's Americas Deal of the
Year and The American Lawyer's Finance Deal of the Year.
Allen & Overy was also named Global Infrastructure Firm of the
year by Infrastructure Investor.
Allen & Overy rebranded its online affiliate company, now call
aosphere, which offers high quality online compliance and legal
risk management products to asset managers all over the world.
On International Women's Day, A&O reported on the status of its
"20:20 vision" to lift the proportion of women partners in the firm
to at least 20 percent by 2020. Many areas of the business already
have more than 20 percent female partners but an increase is needed
in all offices to reach the global target.
You Deserve a Promotion
Allen & Overy announced promotions of 22 lawyers to partner
across 12 offices in 11 countries. 68 percent of the new partners
are located outside of London and 40 percent of the new partners
are women two of which are from the U.S.
Topping the League Tables
Allen & Overy has topped Dealogic's Global Project Finance
League tables for 2014 by both value and volume and recorded a
global market share of 9.2 percent having advised on 75 deals worth
Allen & Overy was ranked first by volume of deals and second
by value of deals by Bloomberg for cross-border M&A in