K&L Gates announced last month that it is going to open a twenty-fourth office in the United States–and its fortieth office worldwide–by launching a location in Charleston, South Carolina, with the addition of a seven-partner team from the Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein company.
“South Carolina has one of the most business-friendly public policy climates in the United States…and we expect it to be, increasingly, a destination for national and international business,” according to Peter Kalis, K&L Gates’s chairman and global managing partner.
Joining K&L Gates to open the new office are the former Parker Poe partners Matthew Norton, J. Walker Coleman IV, Joshua Dixon, Theodore Manuel, Bryan Walpole III, Jason Walton, and James Bruce. Norton is going to join the new firm’s global resort and hospitality practice, while Coleman and Dixon will work over in the employment and commercial litigation areas. Manuel, Walpole, and Walton will all join K&L Gate’s banking and tax group; Bruce is a big corporate transactional attorney. All of the seven departures leave Parker Poe, which will maintain the six offices that are scattered throughout the Carolinas, with half as many partners in the Charleston office as before.
Kalis says that he expects an unspecified number of staffers and lower-level attorneys to try and make the move to K&L Gates from Parker Poe, but that there is no specific certain number target for the Charleston offices as of now. Instead, he says that the firm is going to grow ”opportunistically and strategically” over a certain amount of time.
In welcoming in the new additions, Kalis touts their regional and international experience, especially in the resort and hospitality companies. This group is K&L Gates in a perfect position to pick up any additional assignments if, as many of the observers have suggested,the city see some growth of corporations in the manufacturing, aviation and automobile industries.
The widening of the Panama Canal–which is scheduled for completion in 2014–is being viewed as a boon to the various East Coast port cities, also including those over in South Carolina. The Port of Charleston is already the fourth-business port in this entire country, and the city is looking for more ways to secure financing to make itself more accessible to large ships. Back in April, it was noted that the predicted a surge in shipping activity has already attracted one law firm to Charleston: Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, which acquired 44-lawyer firm Buist Moore Smythe McGee over in Charleston. Kalis says that in addition to trying to help the Charleston office attract a new business, and expansion of port activity ”harmonizes nicely with an existing practice of the firm”: it’s maritime practice. While is firm’s maritime group that already exists is based in Washington, D.C., Kalis says that he expects maritime specialists there to work in concert with the ones that are based inside of Charleston.