Clifford Chance is looking to strengthen its Nordic links in preparation for its merger with US firm Rogers & Wells by bringing a Hong Kong-based partner with strong Scandinavian contacts back to London.
Shipping partner Mark Morrison has been moved from Hong Kong back to London to do shipping, trade and offshore oil and gas work.
Since moving to Hong Kong in 1995, Morrison has been specialising in legal disputes on the Chinese mainland.
Tony Vlasto, who is head of the 30-lawyer London-based international maritime and trade group, says: “Mark has a lot of [Scandinavian] contacts from before he went out, and we are awakening those contacts.”
When Clifford Chance merges next year, The Lawyer understands that Olof Clausson, Rogers & Wells' London-based US and Swedish qualified partner, will play a key part in building up the practice group.
But one Scandinavian source views a local takeover by Clifford Chance or the possibility of it setting up an office – most probably in Sweden – as unlikely.
Johan Coyet, a partner at leading Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling, says: “I would have thought that [Clausson] would be doing his pitching for work, but I would be very surprised if they set up an office.”
Clausson previously worked at Mannheimers before heading to the US.
Clifford Chance's London-based Scandinavian practice manager Andrea Svedberg says the group focuses on finance and corporate finance, as well as shipping.
Svedberg adds: “We have no exclusive relationship with anybody and we are working with all the leading firms.”
She refuses to comment further about Clifford Chance's plans for future growth in the area.