Dewey & LeBoeuf Paris trio go it alone as French legal market switches focus

Dewey & LeBoeuf Paris trio go it alone as French legal market switches focusThree former lawyers from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s French office have broken away to form a dispute resolution boutique during a period of intense activity in the French legal market.

Olivier Laude, who was co-managing partner of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Paris office, has set up the firm with former associates Richard Esquier and Victor Champey.

Laude Esquier Champey will focus on litigation, white collar crime and arbitration work for corporate clients in the media, telecommunications, banking and finance sectors. Three former associates at Dewey & LeBoeuf have also left to join the start-up project.

The move comes at a time when large firms, both domestic and foreign, are eschewing smaller practice areas to focus on large M&A and finance deals, prompting partners in the neglected practice areas to join ­smaller firms or create their own boutique operations.

A seven-strong employment team left leading French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel to join Flichy Avocats last week. Led by rated employment specialist Joël Grangé, the team will focus on the employment law aspects of M&A and restructuring deals.

Former ;Gide ;senior ­associates Marine Conche, Blandine Allix and Nabila El Aougri will become partners at Flichy, while Grangé will become a name partner. Flichy has rebranded as Flichy Grangé Avocats ­following the move, which boosts the firm’s partnership from nine to 13 and the number of lawyers from 33 to 40.

Employment is a hot area for French firms at the moment.

Bredin Prat, Slaughter and May’s best friend in France, hired Pascale Lagesse as a partner in its Paris office from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Lagesse had led the French employment practice at Freshfields since 2000; her hire is part of the launch of an employment group at Bredin Prat.

Jones Day managing partner for France Wesley Johnson has observed the moves. “Maybe it’s because the French labour law code is as complex as the US tax code,” he said. “In a sense it’s a very solid business and there’s always demand for that kind of advice in France.”

Gide is betting on finance, specifically big capital ­markets deals in London, New York and Paris. The firm strengthened its international capital markets practice with the hire of Melinda Stege Arsouze, a senior associate at Shearman & Sterling’s Paris and New York offices.

Xavier de Kergommeaux, managing partner of the Paris finance department, said: “Her arrival will strongly contribute to the development of our international capital markets practice, and demonstrates our commitment to strengthening this practice worldwide.”

Top five French moves this summer

• This month a new law firm hit the Paris market. Set up by three lawyers from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s France office, Laude Esquier Champey will focus on dispute resolution.
• A seven-strong employment team joined niche firm Flichy Avocats to work on the employment law aspects of M&A and restructuring deals.
• Bredin Prat made a rare lateral hire when it recruited employment lawyer Pascale Lagesse as a partner in its Paris office from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
• Gide Loyrette Nouel boosted its US capital markets practice with the appointment of Melinda Stege Arsouze from Shearman & Sterling.
• Bryan Cave raided Dechert’s Paris office, snaring two partners to form the basis of its first office in France in the form of M&A specialist Kathie Claret and funds expert Joseph Smallhoover.