OC’s ever-broader horizons

Europhile Osborne Clarke gets busy in the City of Love, but dreams of New York

Everyone had baby fever last week including Osborne Clarke, which celebrated the birth of its own newest family member – the Paris office is the firm’s 15th outpost.

At the moment Paris is small, with only one partner – technology-focused Béatrice Delmas-Linel who boasts a stint in-house at Microsoft on her CV – but the opening follows managing partner Simon Beswick’s pledge to move from “an Anglo-German firm with a marketing operation in California” to a fully fledged European firm.

Paris is Osborne Clarke’s third European opening in a year and follows the firm’s March 2012 ultimatum to its European alliance partners to merge or separate. Belgium-based De Wolf & Partners, Rotterdam’s Ploum Loden Princen and Stehlin & Associés of France declined Osborne Clarke’s offer.

However, Spanish and Italian allies, Osborne Clarke Spain and SLA Studio Legale Associato, joined up, adding six offices and 21 partners to the firm’s collection.

Since then, Beswick has had his foot gaffer-taped to the throttle. Belting down the autobahn, the firm popped up in Hamburg in October 2012 with a view to expanding its footprint in Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltics. This was followed by Brussels this June, established with two partners from De Wolf. Unusually, Osborne Clarke has opted for a full-service offering in Belgium instead of following the pack with an EU competition and regulatory practice there.

Paris is kicking off with a tech focus, but Delmas-Linel told The Lawyer last week that she is looking for more to join the team. Osborne Clarke has already added 150 lawyers since it disassembled the alliance and began the process of integrating European offices.

To keep its structure in order it has put a renewed focus on consistency. On 18 July it announced the rejig of its German management, with longstanding German managing partner Stefan Rizor taking the senior partner role and Cologne corporate partner Carsten Schneider taking over.

But Europe is unlikely to be Osborne Clarke’s stopping point. Beswick has said he has an eye on the States. Next stop, New York?

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