Bryan Cave European quest sparks Germany launch

US firm Bryan Cave is set to open its first office in Germany, and is eyeing further launches in Brussels, Madrid and Paris as part of an ambitious European expansion plan.

The firm has hired corporate partner Michael Leue and three associates from former Field Fisher Waterhouse German ally Buse Heberer Fromm. The office will open for business in Hamburg on 1 August.

The Germany launch follows the announcement of the firm’s opening in Milan with Wilkie Farr & Gallagher partners Paolo Barozzi and Fulvio Pastore-Alinante.

Partner Steve Sunshine, who is overseeing the international expansion, said: “Our strategy has always been to add capacity where our clients need it as they become more global.”

The firm has close relationships with Boeing, Bank of New York and book retailer Barnes & Noble, but Sunshine said the expansion was not led by any one specific client.

Bryan Cave, which is based in St Louis, is also seeking to add offices in France, Belgium and Spain, as well as a second German office in Frankfurt.

Sunshine said: “We don’t have any specific city in mind as opening next, but we continue to have conversations with people there.”

Sunshine said the firm set up offices in Italy and Germany first because US partners had worked with the European lawyers on deals in the past and so knew them well already.

For the moment, the firm’s priority is finding partners and associates to staff the new Milan and Hamburg offices so they can become self-sufficient.

“One of the reasons I’m here in Milan is that we don’t want to wait to begin the process of building up the practice” said Sunshine. “Momentum is important.”

The firm has set up an internal programme to integrate the new offices into the firm.

Bryan Cave’s London partners will be expected to travel to Milan and Hamburg to meet the new European partners and establish working relationships.

The US relationship partners of key clients will also get to meet their German and Italian colleagues over the coming weeks.