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Clifford Chance has scored a coup with the hire of the European Commission's top legal official.
Michel Petite, director general of the Commission's legal service for six years, has joined the firm's Paris office as an of counsel and will advise clients across the network on all issues relating to European policy.
Yves Wehrli, managing partner of Clifford Chance Paris, said a team of partners from the firm's Paris, London and Brussels offices were involved in recruiting Petite. It is understood that Paris-based competition partner Claude Lazarus, who joined the firm from Herbert Smith in 2002, has had a particularly strong relationship with Petite for some time.
Although Petite will be based in Paris, he will have a global role, which according to Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs will allow clients on an international scale to benefit from his considerable experience.
"In recent years we've seen a major increase in demand from global clients seeking guidance on how best to work within the EU framework to achieve their commercial objectives in Europe. Michel's experience will be invaluable in providing advice to these clients," he added.
Petite gained a law degree from Paris University and worked first as a lecturer and then as a barrister. He joined the Commission in 1979 and undertook a number of roles, including leading the team that negotiated the Treaty of Amsterdam and acting as a director in the competition services for state aids. He became head of legal services in 2001.
During his time at the Commission he worked alongside presidents Jacques Delors, Romano Prodi and Jose Manuel Barroso.