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In this year’s offshore survey The Lawyer excluded firms’ fiduciary lawyers and partners to get a better reflection of what’s happening with the legal side of their businesses (see story).
Some firms are choosing to move away from fiduciary services - think Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes - while others are seeking to bolster their accountancy and wealth management businesses.
Horses for courses I suppose. One senior partner at Maples and Calder told me that Maples’ fiduciary side complements the law firm well. Indeed, chairman of Maples Finance David Brooks is overseeing an expansion into Montreal.
But for Mourant, founders of the fiduciary/offshore law firm model, ditching Mourant International Finance Administration (Mifa) and private client trust business MourantPrivate Wealth was key to its merger with Ozannes (see story).
Partners at the soon-to-be-merged entity believed that focusing on legal without the complications and influence of a fiduciary business was the most productive way of achieving success.
With Mourant Ozannes flying towards the top of next year’s offshore survey, which ranks firms by partner numbers, who’s going to argue? Fiduciary businesses are often profitable, but they can complicate a partnership and cause problems if the legal side wants to expand.
Carefully managed divestment of the fiduciary business can also free up the law firm, while at the same time allowing the old relationship to be fruitful for both parties.