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Field Fisher Waterhouse is conducting the final stages of beauty parades to select an Italian and Spanish firm to join its exclusive network European Legal Alliance
The Lawyer understands that Field Fisher will shortly begin negotiations with a preferred Spanish firm and will then proceed to finalise an agreement in Italy. The firm's main criteria for alliance firms is that they have strong corporate, intellectual property and IT practices. In Spain, the only firms being considered have offices in Madrid and Barcelona. Brands, technology, media and telecommunications head Mark Abell and partner Christopher Bond are leading the drive to fill the places, which they feel is essential for the alliance to thrive. Field Fisher launched the alliance in February this year, with German firm Buse Heberer Fromm, French firm Dubarry Le Douarin Veil, Beauchamps of Ireland and Scotland's Harper Macleod. European Legal Alliance is the first step to a full merger. Field Fisher says that the alliance operates as a merged firm with a common management board and common brand. The firms bill as one and have an internal profit-sharing agreement. The firm believes that a strong, integrated European capability is essential. Field Fisher has no desires to pursue a US merger as it already has profitable referral relationships with a number of US firms. Abell, after receiving a bombardment of offers, even took the unusual step of announcing in The Lawyer that he did not want any more calls from US firms seeking a UK merger partner.