The City branch of a Chicago firm has signalled its intention to expand into London after becoming the first alternative business structure set up by a US-based practice.

The UK affiliate of Jenner & Block, which also operates from New York, Los Angeles and Washington, was granted ABS status by the Solicitors Regulation Authority earlier this month.

The firm has registered an office in London’s Square Mile and will start will a small group of dual-qualified and US-qualified lawyers.

Managing partner Terence Truax (pictured) told the Gazette the firm will then focus on recruiting UK lawyers at all levels to lead the practice.

‘London will provide us with a strategic foothold within Europe and serve as an entry point for clients with needs in the Middle East, Africa, India and the Nordics,’ said Truax.

‘We have long considered London to be part of our strategy, but only when the time was right. We consider the right time to be now.’

The firm specialises in litigation and dispute resolution as well as regulatory investigations, enforcement and white collar crime.

Its objective is to become one of the premier firms in London for US and UK-based government proceedings and associated internal investigations, as well as a market leader for international arbitration.

The firm has expanded twice in the last 10 years – moving to New York in 2005 and Los Angeles in 2009. Both offices opened with just a handful of lawyers and they now have almost 100 between them. In total the firm has around 450 lawyers, the majority of them in its litigation department.

The ABS licence, registered to JNBUK LLP, is likely to be used to bring non-lawyers into the management structure of the firm – something which is not permitted presently in the US.