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Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and New York firm Kramer Levin have ditched their formal alliance after nearly five years of cooperation, The Lawyer can reveal.
The association was set up in October 2002 and was seen by both firms as a prelude to a full merger, but it came to an end earlier this year amid dissatisfaction on the part of BLP.
Kramer Levin, led by managing partner Paul Pearlman, has now been downgraded to the status of 'preferred firm', of which BLP has 100 in 50 jurisdictions around the world.
It is understood that BLP began monitoring the level and quality of referrals more than a year ago before deciding to withdraw from the alliance. BLP managing partner Neville Eisenberg said: "It was a discussion over quite a long period of time. We still work with them."
A source close to the firm added: "The aspirations in terms of clients was a total mismatch. The institutions BLP aspires to get close to in London would laugh at [its] relationship with Kramer Levin."
Kramer Levin Paris managing partner Alexander Marquardt said: "We still refer work to one another, but we're no longer in an alliance - the relationship has changed. I don't have anything against BLP. I didn't have anything against my ex-wife, but we still got divorced."
The move comes after BLP reshaped its international strategy into a wide 'best friends' network. Eisenberg confirmed that the dissolution will mark a renewed push by the UK firm on the US market over the next six months.
The firm is aiming to identify up to three preferred firms in up to six US regions. The initiative will be led by a taskforce of partners, which will include senior partner Harold Paisner, corporate head John Bennett, Brussels partner David Anderson, IP partner Simon Clark and insurance partner Jonathan Sacher, among others.