Stephenson Harwood’s Madrid woes continue as Paris ally denies merger

The Lawyer can also reveal that the troubled firm may not, as previously announced, be in merger talks with Paris firm Barbe Thibault Carpentier Groener.

In April, Stephenson Harwood announced it was entering merger talks with the Paris firm. However, one source at Barbe told The Lawyer that the firm is not and had never been in merger talks, although the source conceded that the two firms work closely together.

A disaffected source at Stephenson Harwood claims that the firm’s Madrid office was one of its most profitable and that top Madrid partners defected to DLA long before the deal for the whole office was concluded, forcing the firm to sign over the whole office. The source said that the Madrid partners were unhappy with the firm’s poor financial performance and that cutbacks in London came too late to change their minds.

Stephenson Harwood managing partner Andrew Sutch refused to comment on the timing of the deal, as did DLA managing partner Nigel Knowles. The firm says it has now downgraded Continental expansion. Sutch said: “We’re looking to find likeminded European firms with whom we can have a relationship.”