Brandford-Griffith & Associés
Turnover: Confidential (more than €10m (£6.74m))
Total number of lawyers: 25
Total number of partners: 11
Main practice areas: Corporate, finance, litigation, competition
Key clients: Crédit Agricole, BPR Groupe, Raleigh, Wendel Investissement
French independent Brandford-Griffith & Associés has just celebrated its fifth birthday with the hire of a new partner. Roland Poirier joins the firm from Orrick Rambaud Martel to replace Pierre Ullman as head of tax after the latter moved to Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Founding partner Henri Brandford-Griffith is in a buoyant mood about the future of his firm and its success since its launch in late 2001, saying that profitability is on par with the best of his rivals’.
“The firm was set up just at the same time as we experienced the fall of the twin towers,” he says. “Some would say it was courageous, others would say it was difficult.
“France is such a particular country, it will never be under the control of a magic circle of Anglo-Saxon firms, and there will always be some local firms. Now we really have something which is anchored in the sands of the French legal shore.”
Brandford-Griffith used the traditional French independent, such as Bredin Prat or Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, as his model for his new firm, but added into the mix his knowledge of larger, international operations from his time spent working with Jean Loyrette of Gide Loyrette Nouel.
But he wanted to target the younger generation of lawyers in order to address the generational gap and succession problem that affects many traditional French firms. Only four of the firm’s 11 partners are older than 40 – its two newest partners before Poirier’s hire, Guillaume Kessler and Eytan Hanouna, are just 34.
“It’s very important to promote people,” says Brandford-Griffith, extolling the talents of his youthful colleagues.
He is keen to make sure that younger associates coming up through the ranks will have an opportunity to become partners, and he also wants to encourage women to progress. Two of the firm’s partners, Diane Pasturel and Vanina Paolaggi, are female and regarded highly.
Brandford-Griffith reels off a list of high-profile, high-value deals to demonstrate the success of his model. The firm has had an involvement on transactions such as Crédit Agricole’s takeover of Crédit Lyonnais and the mammoth acquisition of Aventis by Sanofi-Synthélabo.
Now it is moving into leveraged buyouts and smaller private equity and capital markets work. Brandford-Griffith says the profile of his partners is an attraction to clients.
“The idea is that it’s a young people’s game,” he explains. “What we arranged to do is to have a pyramid of age so that we’ve been in a position to partner several people.”
The future strategy is primarily that of independence. Brandford-Griffith does not rule out international expansion, although currently the firm works with similar operations overseas such as Cuatrecasas in Spain and Chiomenti Studio Legale and Grande Stevens in Italy.
More partners and fee-earners are likely, but Brandford-Griffith says team-players are essential.
“We don’t want to have people planting their tents inside the firm and dividing the team,” he says with certainty.