Barents to fight on with one lawyer left in its Brussels office; merger a possibility
Barents & Krans' Brussels managing partner Gerard van der Wal is taking his team to Dutch rival Houthoff Buruma, leaving Barents with just one lawyer in Brussels. Laura Parret, Barents' one remaining Brussels lawyer, defiantly stated that the future of the Brussels office is not in doubt after the firm's management had made the decision to soldier on. Barents shares an office in Brussels with Belgian 80-lawyer firm Janson Baugniet. Parret said that the firms work very closely together and that she is keen to pursue a merger. She says she declined a generous offer to join van der Wal at Houthoff, relishing the challenge of resurrecting the firm in Brussels. Van der Wal, who had been at Barents for 18 years, said: "Barents & Krans is a small firm and I felt the need to expand further." Van der Wal said that a large majority of his clients will work with him at Houthoff, including L'Oreal, which van der Wal advises on litigious matters, and a number of agricultural companies. Houthoff's Brussels managing partner Weijer VerLoren van Themaat said: "Gerard has an outstanding litigation practice before the European Court of Justice and excellent intellectual property and competition experience." Houthoff now has eight lawyers in the Brussels office, with more than 300 spread between its other offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Brussels and London. The Brussels office opened independently in July this year having previously been a joint venture with German firm Wessing (now Taylor Wessing) and Belgium's Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck & Kirkpatrick. VerLoren van Themaat said that this follows a trend of the big Dutch firms choosing to remain fiercely independent after Boekel De Nerée's split from Eversheds and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek's parting from Linklaters. VerLoren van Themat said: "During the boom times, Anglo-Saxon firms showed big growth, but we see now that there is no decrease in our work despite the recession. Our practice is more steady and less susceptible to fluctuations in the economy."