Caymans-based Maples and Calder and Channel Islands-based Carey Olsen have responded to the threat of a Walkers-Mourant du Feu & Jeune merger by agreeing a best friends deal.
The arrangement will see the firms cooperate in relation to offshore legal work, but falls short of the recent trend towards full-scale mergers between offshore law firms.
Henry Harford, managing partner of Maples’ London office, said that there were “significant parallels” between the two firms and the agreement was “similar to the ‘best friends’ business model adopted by a number of leading London firms”.
As part of the agreement, Maples will stop practising Jersey law and refer its Jersey clients to Carey. Maples’ Jersey office will, however, remain open and will continue to advise on Cayman law.
Negotiations are ongoing, but Maples expects its Jersey lawyers either to relocate within the international network or move across to Carey.
Managing partner of Carey’s Jersey office Alex Ohlsson said: “We prefer this approach to that of establishing small presences in other offshore jurisdictions where it is hard to compete effectively with existing firms.”
The announcement comes as the market waits to see whether Walkers and Mourant will merge. As revealed by The Lawyer (22 October), the firms have confirmed they are in merger talks.
The combination would create a 300-lawyer offshore powerhouse, surpassing current offshore leader Maples’ 210 lawyers.