Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is forging a strategic alliance with New York firm Kramer Levin, as it embarks on an ambitious international growth plan
The alliance, which is seen as the prelude to merger at a later date, is the first stage of an all-out joint attack on the European market, and represents the first transatlantic law firm deal since Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw. BLP managing partner Neville Eisenberg said: "There isn't a model for this. There are failed models, but we're trying out a new method. We're not just getting together to do a bit of joint marketing and so on - there is a clear business plan to build up the European network." Kramer Levin managing partner Paul Pearlman said: "This is a joint collaboration between London and New York to establish a European network. We have a number of clients with a international presence, and have been looking at international expansion for a relatively long time." BLP has been trying to internationalise its practice ever since its merger in 2001. It currently has a small office in Brussels and is known to have been scouting Germany for a tie-up, but has never succeeded in building a Continental practice. The Kramer Levin alliance will hand it immediate representation in Paris and Italy. Its six-partner Paris office was originally part of Rogers & Wells, but spun off at the time of the merger with Clifford Chance, while the 30-lawyer Milan office is an association with Studio Legale Santa Maria. Eisenberg said: "We'll be looking at how to progress plans to attract [firms in] Germany, Spain and the Netherlands." According to AmLaw 200, Kramer Levin turned over $133m (£85.3m) last year, with average profits per equity partner of $795,000 (£510,000). According to The Lawyer 100, BLP turned over £86.2m, with profits per equity partner at £260,000.