Grapevine

Can Fleck reach the Gold standard at Herbies?

As Herbert Smith’s new senior partner David Gold prepares to take office on 1 April, the inevitable question is: what role will practice partner Richard Fleck have under Gold’s leadership?

Although Fleck stood against Gold unsuccessfully in last October’s senior partner elections, Herbert Smith claims that they have put their rivalry behind them and that Fleck will continue to play a pivotal role at the firm. In his new role, which has yet to be given a title, Fleck will devote his time to international strategy and in particular Herbert Smith’s relationships with US firms.

Nevertheless, some doubt the extent to which Fleck will have a real impact on Herbert Smith’s European strategy. They argue that Fleck, who was the architect of the firm’s alliance with Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe, has been sidelined by the key man in Gold’s election campaign, corporate partner Henry Raine, who now occupies the role of alliance partner.

Independent Olswang flirts with idea of US marriageOlswang’s appointment of an official international strategy partner at the tail end of 2004 has snowballed into a change of strategy that may not please all of its partners.

To date, the firm has always fiercely resisted US suitors, but recently there has been a change of heart. When Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe came knocking recently, Olswang’s management was happy to listen to what the US firm had to say.

While the only immediate policy is to build up a best friends network, the firm has definitely not ruled out a US merger. The Orrick talks came to nothing, but it was enough to stoke up debate at the firm. While all are proud of the firm’s culture, there are some partners who value Olswang’s identity as a UK independent and would be none too happy if that changed.

Orrick, for its part, has done the rounds in London. It will probably now pursue organic growth in the City, taking a team here and there, unless Olswang’s fierce rival SJ Berwin finally succumbs to Orrick’s persistent wooing. And surely that would make Jonathan Goldstein think again.

Fidal and Beiten go on the road in quest for dandy YankFrench giant Fidal and German firm Beiten Burkhardt are in the middle of a US road trip. But this is no Jack Kerouac-style jaunt – this is a serious venture to intensify the two firms’ international reach.

Both Beiten and Fidal were members of the KLegal network before its split and have retained close links with one another. The two firms say they enjoy their “best friends” relationship in Europe, but are actively looking for US firms with which to forge an informal partnership.

In the past, Beiten in particular has worked with a number of US firms, including Dorsey & Whitney, Kramer Levin, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz.

However, the two firms’ best friends network is by no means exclusive, and given the unpredictable nature of international relationships, each wants to have a look at other firms outside New York.

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