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Herbert Smith alliance talks continue; four-partner German desk and ten-firm network are put in place
Spanish firm Cuatrecasas, which is in formal alliance talks with Herbert Smith, is making new German friends outside of the Herbert Smith network. Herbert Smith has a formal alliance with German firm Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch. But Cuatrecasas has just set up a four-partner German desk and a seven-firm German network for referrals. The network involves Hengeler Müller Weitzel Wirtz, Haarmann Hemmelrath & Partner, CMS Hasche Sigle Eschenlohr Peltzer Schäfer, Wessing, Mayer Brown & Platt Gaedertz, and Latham & Watkins SchöNolte as well as Gleiss.
"We're starting a programme of secondments with Haarmann - an associate from Cuatrecasas is already over there" Kai Christian Fischer, Cuatrecasas
A Cuatrecasas source denies that there are any plans to give Gleiss Lutz preferential treatment because of the Herbert Smith connection. Cuatrecasas is also enjoying a very strong relationship with Haarmann Hemmel-rath, although this relationship is not exclusive or formalised. According to German desk lawyer Kai Christian Fischer, the two firms have already started a secondment programme. He said: "We may consider strengthening our relationships with one of the German firms in the future. Haarmann Hemmelrath is a German law firm that does excellent work. We're starting a programme of secondments with Haarmann - an associate from Cuatrecasas is already over there." Fischer did not see any reason why Cuatrecasas would give preferential treatment to Gleiss Lutz. "We have a friendship, but no formal relationship with Gleiss," he said. "It'll be a major effort of the German desk to cooperate with Gleiss and the other major German law firms." Cuatrecasas's non-preferential treatment of Gleiss Lutz is in marked contrast to the very close relationship Gleiss Lutz has enjoyed with Stibbe, which has just entered into a formal alliance with Herbert Smith. In 1998, the German and the Dutch firm entered into merger negotiations, but the talks fell through after Gleiss Lutz failed to garner enough partnership votes. According to a source close to the Herbert Smith network, the firm's Dutch and German members are very happy to now be working together through their formal alliances with Herbert Smith. Cuatrecasas's German desk is made up of four partners and 10 lawyers. Its lawyers will be based in the firm's Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca offices. The firm plans to advise Spanish companies in German-speaking Europe on how to strengthen their relations with German, Austrian and Swiss companies. The firm also works for Deutsche Post, BASF and Deutsche Bank.