DLA Piper set for Paris expansion with local merger

DLA Piper is preparing to merge with a corporate boutique in Paris in a bid to grow its presence in the French capital.

The firm is understood to be in advanced discussions with Frieh Bouhenic, a 26-lawyer boutique established in January last year by ex-Linklaters rainmaker Michel Frieh and Pierre-Alain Bouhenic, formerly of Weil Gotshal & Manges.

The merger, set to complete in September, would signficantly boost DLA Piper’s corporate capabilities in Paris. The firm has a large office in France led by Jean-Philippe Sorba, but lacks star corporate names.

Frieh left Linklaters in 2007 (13 April 2007) after three years at the magic circle firm, and established Frieh & Associés. Last year he chose to merge the firm with Bouhenic’s outfit to bolster the capacity of both (17 January 2011). Before joining Linklaters in 2004 he was a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Paris.

Frieh Bouhenic currently has 11 partners and 15 associates, many of whom have previous experience at top-tier UK and US firms in France.

A spokesperson for DLA Piper said: “We’re exploring a specific opportunity with a Paris-based law firm to improve our capability in what is a key market for our clients.”

Frieh was unavailable for comment.