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By Rachel Moloney 3 June 2019

King & Spalding has hired a trade partner to kickstart operations in Brussels, following hot on the heels of Cooley’s Brussels launch earlier this year.

Marie-Sophie Dibling has joined King & Spalding in Brussels as a partner from Fidal, where she worked for just over a year in Belgium and Casablanca. Before being promoted to partner, she was a senior associate at Gide Loyrette Nouel for over six years, training in Shearman & Sterling’s Paris office.

The firm’s Brussels base will be initially focused on trade, with Dibling advising clients on issues involving European Union investigations of unfairly traded imports. She also helps guides corporates on trade policy, free trade agreements and barriers.

Alongside London, King & Spalding has three offices in Continental Europe; in Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris. This is therefore the most concerted attempt to expand on the Continent since those openings in the early 2000s.

Steve Orava, chair of King & Spaldings’ international trade group, said: “The international trade market is becoming ever-more sophisticated, requiring in-depth expertise to navigate agreements, regulations and tariffs, so lawyers of Marie-Sophie’s standing enhance our ability to assist clients around the world.”

These thoughts were echoed by Geneva office managing partner Daniel Crosby, who said: “Given the significance of Brussels as the headquarters of the EU, her presence there provides our clients and colleagues proximity to key decision-makers and policy deliberations.” Dibling will work with King & Spalding’s wider trade practice in Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, London and Washington DC.

Background to the hire

This is a small launch for King & Spalding, mirroring that of the firm’s 20th office opening in Chicago in 2017. Opening two years ago with litigator Zachary Fardon at the helm, the office is now 11 partners strong with a further nine fee-earners. At the time of the Chicago announcement, King & Spalding did not have a permanent location in the US city, but went on to open an office base. The same can be said for the Brussels opening, with the firm in the midst of finalising permanent base.

King & Spalding is the latest US firm to open up in Brussels, after Cooley in February. Brexit was cited as one of the reasons around the decision to expand into Brussels, a hub of competition and trade work. In 2017, Sullivan & Cromwell made the rare decision to expand by also launching an office in Brussels. It was the first opening for the firm in Continental Europe for over two decades, hiring  Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati EU competition and antitrust head Michael Rosenthal to lead.