Grapevine

Good for Eversheds. Undeterred by the realpolitik of international expansion, the firm is in the thick of negotiations with a string of firms from collapsed network Denton International.

It’s not just Western Europe, by the way. Eversheds’ international head Alan Jenkins is on the brink of taking the firm into an association (as a prelude to merger) with Spanish firm Denton Lupicinio and Austria’s Baier Lambert, but there’s also the prospect of associations with Denton International’s Czech and Hungarian members.

But hasn’t Eversheds forgotten something here? Like, er, Germany? Well not entirely. Eversheds has had its fingers burnt there in the past, so this time it’s taking a different approach: a slow-burning strategy of ‘encirclement’ to persuade those tricky Germans into submission.

I’m not sure a quasi-military strategy is entirely appropriate for law firm linkups, but at least Eversheds has stopped obsessing about Germany for now in favour of getting the rest of the Continent sorted out.

Still, eyebrows have also been raised at Eversheds’ willingness to jump into bed with what was essentially a failed international network. After all, when Denton Wilde Sapte and Denton Lupicinio both pulled out of the network in the spring, the UK firm hardly rushed in to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the Spanish. Word is that Dentons was glad to be shot of the baggage.

Looking on the bright side, Eversheds’ past experience integrating a national network could work in its favour. Its bias towards non-transactional work, its foothold in the UK’s industrial landscape and its extensive ties with North America also bode well for the talks.

If they pay off, Jenkins could well find himself appointed as the firm’s next chairman – which brings us neatly to succession issues over at Lovells.

As first revealed on http://www.thelawyer.com, three partners have emerged onto the shortlist to become Lovells’ senior partner, but there’s no sign of an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type stepping in to overthrow the incumbent Andrew Walker.

With real estate head Bob Kidby and competition partner Philip Collins now out of the race, it’s a three-way fight between Walker, corporate head Hugh Nineham and insurance partner John Young.

The smart money, however, is on Walker – not least because he will probably only do the job for two years. And that would leave the way nicely open for Lesley MacDonagh to pick up the baton when her term as managing partner ends.