Herbies goes Deutsche

You have to hand it to Herbert Smith Freehills for showing a bit of follow-through. Legacy firm Herbert Smith said it was going to do an Australia deal, and it did. It also said it was going to establish a base in New York, and it did.

And now, almost a year after saying that it wanted to launch in Germany, Herbies has secured a partner to help establish a presence in Frankfurt.

The firm was looking to plug a gap in its European coverage after its alliance with Germany’s Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe came to an end at the beginning of 2012. Herbert Smith (as it was then) wanted to merge with its European allies, but they were less keen and so they parted company. Herbies has now returned the favour by hiring a partner from Gleiss to help lead the Frankfurt launch, though London partner James Palmer says it was all done amicably.

Either way, Herbies’ newfound international resolve marks a dramatic change from the almost painfully conservative culture that permeated the firm in years past. That said, the number of high-profile departures from the firm in London, particularly in corporate and litigation, suggests that maybe not everyone is on board with the new Herbies.

It’s too early to say how detrimental these departures will be to the practice, but Herbies shows no signs of slowing down its expansion. Next stop: Africa.

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