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US firm Sullivan & Cromwell has shocked the Paris legal market by taking on Clifford Chance partner Dominique Bompoint, rated by many as the most talented lawyer of his generation.
Corporate star Bompoint caused quite a stir when he quit Bredin Prat for Clifford Chance in 2001, and now he is leaving after just three years at the world’s largest law firm.
"Sullivan seems a more balanced firm, in between the two opposite models that I’ve known at Clifford Chance and at Bredin Prat," Bompoint told The Lawyer.
Bompoint’s closest client relationships are with the French treasury, which he advised recently on the Alstom restructuring, investment banks Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, and several private equity houses.
The Bompoint coup is part of a broader effort to expand the firm’s European practice and integrate Sullivan’s M&A practice with the private equity group across its offices in Frankfurt, London and Paris.
To this end, the firm has asked its European private equity head Richard Morrissey to also head the European M&A group.
"This is certainly not the final step in our expansion," said Bill Plapinger, the coordinator of Sullivan’s European practice.
Clifford Chance is losing one of a string of rainmakers recruited over the last five years by Paris head Yves Wehrli. In addition to Bompoint, Marcus Billam and Frederic Peltier joined from Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, and Claude Lazarus was recruited from Herbert Smith.
Wehrli commented: "It’s not a surprise to anyone here. We wish him well. We were 11 partners yesterday and we’re 10 partners today. Our ambition remains to be at the very top of the legal profession in France."