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M&A team exits US firm after partnership disagreements; Leleu to take clients
Mayer Brown & Platt's Paris office is losing a top M&A partner following a disagreement within the partnership. Thierry Leleu and his team of three assistants will join the Paris office of Norton Rose. Leleu, who is expected to take clients with him, advises a number of US investment funds and is known to have a strong connection with the French railway company SNCF. The move follows Mayer Brown's merger with French firm Lambert & Lee in January this year, which saw the US firm open its first office in Paris. Leleu said that he left Mayer Brown because he felt he was unable to work with his two Paris partners Jean-Pierre Lee and Jean-Phillipe Lambert. Both partners were at Lambert & Lee, whereas Leleu joined from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. "I have a good relationship with Mayer Brown in the US, but I have [differences with] my partners in Paris," said Leleu. Lee, however, declined to comment. "We agreed not to discuss the reasons for his departure and we intend to stick to this agreement," he stated. Leleu's departure leaves Mayer Brown's Paris office with just these two partners. However, it is understood that it will now be sending over at least one US partner to work in the Paris office. Norton Rose's managing partner in Paris Tim Howard said that his office is growing all areas of its practice. The office mirrors London and has its focus on M&A, acquisition finance, structured finance, litigation and competition. The recruitment follows the appointment of competition partner Jean-Patrice de La Laurencie and M&A partner Eric Laplante, both of whom joined from Coudert Brothers in January. Norton Rose's Paris practice is building its partnership from below and now has a strong team of younger lawyers. Leleu joins three other partners in the M&A group, bringing the total number of partners in Paris to 14. Corporate finance partner Bertrand Pellet said: "As the French corporate and private equity markets continue to develop, there are clear opportunities for a firm like Norton Rose."