The European alliance between Herbert Smith, Germany’s Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe will officially come to an end on 31 December.
As part of a strategic review dubbed Project Blue Sky, Herbert Smith went to its alliance partners earlier this year asking them to agree to either merge or go their separate ways. After Gleiss partners voted overwhelmingly against a merger and Stibbe followed suit (22 November 2011) the firms agreed that the latter option was the only way forward (24 November 2011).
In a statement released today the firms said that they plan to “maintain the strong relationships formed over the 10 years that the alliance has been operating”.
The statement continued: “The termination will not affect those clients whose matters are jointly handled by the firms, who will continue to work together on a non-exclusive basis.”
It is understood that Stibbe partner Olivier Clevenbergh, who gave up his position as managing partner of the firm’s Brussels office in July to become secretary general of the alliance, is considering his next role. This could see him take a position with Herbert Smith.
It is also understood that Stibbe and Gleiss are in talks about maintaining some form of alliance, although a source close to the German firm suggested that an alliance of two may not be practical in the long term.
While Stibbe has an office within Herbert Smith’s London headquarters, there are no immediate plans for the firm to move out.
According to Herbert Smith senior partner Jonathan Scott, Gleiss and Herbert Smith, which both have space in Stibbe’s Brussels office, would remain there “for the foreseeable future”.
Sources at all three firms said there were no immediate plans to overhaul their websites or business cards, which share joint branding.