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Holborn-based Collyer-Bristow is set to launch its first overseas office in November when the firm opens for business in Geneva.
The firm has a number of existing client relationships in Switzerland, including Philip Morris – one of a number of major corporates to have their international headquarters in the region.
Although a handful of US firms, including Winston & Strawn, already have a presence in Switzerland, it is believed that Collyer-Bristow will be the first UK firm to open there.
The move follows the introduction of new legislation allowing lawyers to practise the law of their own country in other European states, to which Switzerland is a signatory, and the relaxation in July of rules governing work permits in the country.
Partner Oliver Drennan, who joined the firm from Morgan Cole in July and who will lead the office, said: “We have existing client relationships in the region and there is a large number of international businesses with regional headquarters in the area. In addition, the opportunities for our sports law practice and our private wealth management practice are obvious and substantial.”
A host of international sporting regulatory bodies are headquartered on the banks of Lake Geneva, including those governing football, the Olympics, motor racing, basketball and sailing.
“Because it’s a modest-sized city, it’s of less interest to the very large international legal practices; for us, however, its size and style represents a real opportunity,” added Drennan.
In a separate development, the firm has also hired private client partner Andrew Dixon and a team from Pinsents in London. Dixon, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a private client lawyer, has been at Pinsents, where he was head of the London tax group, since 1996. He will be joined at Collyer-Bristow by associates Rosamond McDowell and Sarah Williams and trust manager Colleen Higham.