Osbornes forms seven-member Euro-alliance with German firm

Bristol-based Osborne Clarke has added a 35-partner German firm and a Milan firm to its European alliance and re-named it Osborne Westphalen International.

The German firm Graf von Westphalen Fritze and Modest, run by the Count of Westphalia Friedrich Graf von Westphalen, is a mid-sized corporate, IP, IT and media practice originally based in Cologne, but which expanded by merging with Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich firms last year and now has offices in five other German cities. It also has a partnership with Eurolegal, a now independent Brussels firm, which Westphalen set up.

Osbornes brings to the alliance its exclusive ties with Rotterdam-based Ploum Lodder Princen, Horten & Partner in Copenhagen and Barcelona-based Osborne Clarke Europe DS and new member, Milan firm Croze Radice ed Associati. Eurolegal, headed by EU law specialist Pierre Mattijsen, will give Osbornes a new EU Brussels presence.

Last summer it pulled out of the Legal Resources Group (LRG) which shared a Brussels office and thought it had done a deal to share the office of Brussels based Huysmans & Partners. But the Belgian firm withdrew from the deal in December, saying it could not afford to lose referrals from other UK law firms.

The LRG has now disbanded – dropping its joint-venture Brussels office in favour of less formal ties with a new office run by former LRG office head Michael Renouf.

Osbornes' two-lawyer litigation office in Frankfurt is expected to merge with the Westphalen's Frankfurt office by the end of the year.

Osbornes and Westphalen will maintain separate French referral partners since Osbornes' firm, Paris-based Cahn & Associes, has no German-speaking lawyers and Westphalen's favourite, Paris-based Funck-Brentano, has none that speak English.

Perrin said he was pleased with the fit with the German practice but hinted at the difficulties of negotiations when he said they involved a great deal of “patience” and “humour”.