Osborne Clarke turns east

Osborne Clarke (OC) has always been one for outgrowing itself. In the 1980s it realised it needed to look outside the West Country.

In 1997 it figured it needed to be in Europe and launched the OC Alliance. And in 2000 it opened in Silicon Valley, launching in Germany a year later.

Now, after a decade of stasis it’s all change again, with the firm confirming plans to merge with its Italian and Spanish alliance members. At a stroke OC gets 12 offices and a projected combined turnover of £117m – putting it in strong contention to enter the top 20 UK firms by revenue in this year’s The Lawyer UK200. Handy, that.

So the current alliance is getting the axe, with the firm scrapping formal ties but retaining a quaint best friends network with its old pals in Belgium, France and the Netherlands – after offering a merger to all three. The French and Benelux crew turned up their noses at the merger and the office in Silicon Valley.

But with Cooley and Olswang ending their relationship, Herbert Smith breaking off with its European friends after failing to secure a merger, and Pinsent Masons separating from Salans, it’s more evidence that alliances are, like, so five minutes ago. Odds are that OC will be looking for a French base soon. Paris in the spring, perhaps?