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Parisian firm Jeantet & Associes has lost its employment specialist to Bird & Bird's Paris office as frustrations mount within the firm over its long-running bid to pull off an international merger.
Benjamine Fiedler is the latest senior assistant to leave Jeantet, which has frozen promotions to partnership for the past two years to keep profits attractive for US and UK suitors.
Fiedler was responsible for all employment work at Jeantet and joins Bird & Bird as a partner. She will be head of the Paris employment practice. Fiedler follows managing partner Frederique Dupuis-Tubol who took 10 assistants with her.
Fiedler says: "Everybody knows Jeantet has been discussing the prospect of merger for two years now with the main English and US law firms. When you are in the middle of discussions it is difficult to have a new partner because it may make discussions even more difficult.
"The more partners you have in a law firm, the rate of profits per partner is lower, so all the partnership has been frozen for two years since starting to discuss with with other firms. That is the main problem for senior associates and is why a lot of people have left the firm over the past six months."
Freshfields is the latest firm to have talks with Jeantet, but Fiedler says the Paris firm is divided over the prospect of merger. "They start a discussion and then they start again with someone else. The atmosphere is very difficult."
Dupuis-Tubol says Fiedler is an important hiring because employment law is "integral to nearly all major transactions in France".
Fiedler brings an assistant, Murier Asser, with her. Their arrival gives Bird & Bird's French office more than 25 lawyers just three months after it opened in January.
Telecoms partner Dupuis-Tubol joined Bird & Bird from Jeantet in January with 10 assistants to set up the Paris office. She says: "The concept of Bird & Bird is new for Paris but it is very attractive.
"There are few firms with a sector focus that also offer a full service to clients."