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International legal alliance Commercial Law Affiliates (CLA) has launched a massive rebranding exercise as it clarifies its German membership and continues to search for a new UK member
CLA, which has a membership of around 200 firms worldwide, will now be known as Meritas because client testing of CLA found that the word 'affiliates' has a strong negative connotation and 'commercial' is outdated. The decision was also prompted by the fact that the CLA acronym cannot be trademark protected in Europe or the US because other entities have established prior use and registrations for it. The alliance is still trying to sign up a new UK member after Hammond Suddards Edge pulled out. It is in talks with two London firms.
"We're looking for other kinds of partnership. We're drifting away from the network idea" Frank Hammel, Knauthe
It has, however, clarified its German membership, which was thrown into question last year when the Frankfurt office of its German member Knauthe Paul Schmitt split from the firm to merge with the Frankfurt office of Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest. Knauthe's remaining Berlin and Munich offices have opted to pull out of CLA, while the Frankfurt arm is retaining membership and bringing in its new partners from Graf under the name Fritze Paul Schmitt. Knauthe partner Frank Hammel said his firm is considering the option of a merger. "We've changed our strategy. We're looking for other kinds of partnership. We're drifting away from the network idea," he said.