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Gide Loyrette Nouel’s incoming management team is considering a strategic shift and is mulling best friend alliances with independent firms around the world.
Managing partner-elect Stéphane Puel said Gide would look at entering into more formal relationships with other independent firms, although he ruled out any kind of merger. “The idea is really to remain independent,” Puel stressed. “There are a number of independent law firms with which we could work on a best friends basis.”
He said Gide was most likely to explore the possibility in countries and regions where it is not present, or where it would like to expand its existing presence, such as Asia.
This month the delicate nature of an alliance strategy was demonstrated by the collapse of Herbert Smith’s relationships with Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe and that of Pinsent Masons and Salans.
Puel added that Gide had no plans to open more international offices itself. In contrast to its French peers Gide has pursued a strategy of globalisation, but has been forced to defend this recently.
In July Allen & Overy hired the bulk of Gide’s Casablanca office to open in Morocco, while in October the publication of Gide’s London LLP accounts showed two successive years of deficit, exacerbated by an onerous lease provision.
However, outgoing managing partner Christophe Eck and senior partner Pierre Raoul-Duval defended the firm’s international strategy, affirming their commitment to both London and Casablanca.
Puel was elected to the role of managing partner in Gide’s biennial elections last week, replacing Eck, who has held the job for two years. Raoul-Duval, who has been senior partner for four years, is also stepping down, to be replaced by litigator Baudouin de Moucheron.
Eck will remain on the firm’s executive committee, alongside Frédéric Nouel and Moscow managing partner David Lasfargue. Puel said Lasfargue, the only committee member based outside Paris, would focus on Gide’s international network.