Osborne Clarke drops international merger plans

The alliance will not replace chief executive Adrian Taylor, who left last month, because it no longer feels the need to have such a centralised function.

The practicalities of regulatory compliance and tax issues are key reasons for the shift away from a merger.

Osborne Clarke managing partner Leslie Perrin told The Lawyer: “Our understanding of the difficulties has matured. We no longer see structural integration as the way forward. Our strategy’s the same. We want to be an integrated pan-European firm in eight or more jurisdictions by 2005, but it’s just a question of what you mean by integration.”

The alliance was rebranded as the Osborne Clarke Alliance in May 2001 after merger talks with former German ally Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest were abandoned. It now includes firms in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France and two in Denmark, as well as Osborne Clarke’s own fully merged German practice, which was created through lateral hiring.

Perrin said: “We don’t rule out financial integration. We were able to do it in Germany because of a particular opportunity. It’s much more difficult to do it with established law firms. If they don’t want it and we don’t need it, there is no point in pursuing it.”

Instead, the alliance is driving forward with its practice group structure and has appointed an international practice manager.