Dibb Lupton Alsop no longer wants to be known as a national firm and is rebranding itself as a “City firm with regional offices”.
In a business plan voted on by all partners, it has also agreed to aim to have French, German, Spanish and Italian practices within the next 12 months; to expand its new Brussels office; and to strengthen its City base.
The Lawyer revealed in February that the firm was in talks with a group of lawyers in Paris and that it aimed to have an office in the city by the summer and a presence in Germany by the end of the year.
Managing partner Nigel Knowles said last week that the firm had nine partners who were in discussions about the foreign offices. He acknowledged last week at a press briefing held to announce the firm's objectives that: “If we are to convince the world that we are serious players in the City we have got to develop banking and corporate finance.”
He said the relaxing of the law firm panels by some banks, particularly Barclays and NatWest, had enabled the firm to gain some work from them. Dibbs is doing litigation work for Barclays and was appointed preferred adviser for PFI financing by NatWest last year.
Knowles said: “It's so easy for the competition to say that we are not a true City firm, we are a national firm. That's getting tiresome. We have to demonstrate to the market that in relation to London we should be classified as a City firm.”
He added that Dibbs' plans for European expansion were being driven by its success in the UK in advising on acquisition finance, private equity, PFI, regulatory investigations and outsourcing work.
London managing partner and property partner Philip Perry said a plan he had conceived to bring Dibbs' four London offices under one roof by taking a pre-let on a speculative development had failed because the German fund financing the development had insisted on individual guarantees of the £6m annual rent from every partner.