Debevoise consolidates London and Paris bases

US firm Debevoise & Plimpton is integrating its European operations by bringing its London and Paris offices under the sole leadership of new managing partner Jim Kiernan.

Kiernan, who has headed the Paris practice for 12 years, will be based in London when he takes over as head of the joint offices in December.

He will be coordinating both the offices from London, and they will share staff and resources.

He will take over from David Smalley, who returns to the US after three years as London managing partner.

Smalley says: “The offices have always tried to work together closely and we have worked at trying to integrate over the years.

“The fact that Jim will head both offices is going to make that even easier.”

The Paris office, which opened in 1964, has concentrated on cross-border European M&A work, while the London office has done mainly capital markets and private fund work since its launch in 1989.

But Smalley says UK-based M&A work has built up over the last year, leading to a greater interchange of staff between the offices.

“On some of the capital markets transactions we have had lawyers from Paris who have come over here to spend time and we have had Paris lawyers come over to help on M&A transactions,” Smalley says.

“Our increased M&A work is attributable to increased investment by our US private equity clients in Europe,” he adds.

These include Clayton Dubillier Rice and Providence, which have both opened London practices.

As a response to the changing focus of the London practice, Debevoise is recruiting two Linklaters assistants. Saloni Joshi and John Morgan are joining to work mainly on M&A deals.

The office will also be adding Slaughter and May assistant Trevor Barnes to its international arbitration practice.

Debevoise is expanding its office space to take part of a second floor at its home in NatWest Tower.