CMS set to merge Central and Eastern European practices

CMS Cameron McKenna, the UK originator of the 1,400-lawyer global network, will merge its Central and Eastern European operations with Austrian firm CMS Strommer Reich-Rohrwig Karasek Hainz. German firm CMS Hasche Siegle, which does not have a presence in the region, will also participate in the financial integration.

The three firms are likely to share profits in Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.

“This could well be a template for international financial integration,” said one senior CMS partner.

Camerons has offices in Bucharest, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, while the Belgrade and Bratislava offices currently belong to Strommer. The Lawyer understands that Prague and Bratislava will be integrated first.

Sources close to Camerons say the firm wants to speed ahead with full financial integration to stay fears that CMS will become just one of many legal referral networks, such as Meritas or Interlex.

This is the first time profit sharing will be implemented within existing CMS practices, but various firms in the network have been buddying up in Europe over the last year.

Within the seven-firm network, CMS Cameron McKenna and CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre (BFL) have combined their offices in Romania, while BFL and CMS Hasche Sigle have joined up their practices in Berlin. Camerons and BFL also have a joint venture in Shanghai (The Lawyer, 3 December 2001). However, none of these link-ups involved financial integration.