Covingtons tightens its links with Paris practice

Partners from US firm Covington & Burling and French firm August & Debouzy are gathering in Paris this week to launch a new co-operation agreement.

The exclusive referral arrangement between the two firms, approved by the Paris Bar last year, gives the firms access to each others' offices.

Covingtons has offices in Brussels and London, and already has a lawyer stationed at August & Debouzy's offices in Paris.

August & Debouzy is a relative newcomer to the French legal scene, set up three years ago by Gilles August and Olivier Debouzy who split off from the well-known Paris firm, Sales Vincent George.

Like Covingtons, it has carved out a reputation in government-related and antitrust work, and the two firms have shared a number of clients.

Covingtons' London resident partner Richard Kingham explained: “When we wanted to set up an office in Paris, they were already close to us and it seemed natural to develop the relationship.”

August said that the firm was keen to create “an international network to compete with international firms like Linklaters & Paines”.

August admitted that the Covington link could lead to merger “if it made sense”. But Kingham was more cautious. He said that Covingtons had “always grown organically”, and had never acquired another firm, but added that it would “continue to have a deeper and stronger relationship” with its new French associate.

August also said the firm was keen to develop a Franco-German axis, and revealed that it was discussing a co-operation agreement with Bonn practice Redeker Schon Dahls & Sellner, which shares office space in London with Covingtons.

However, Redeker Schon partners contacted by The Lawyer denied that any talks had taken place, and stressed that the firm's relationship with Covingtons remained strictly informal.